How to Do Interpretive Research: Insights for PhD Students and Early Career Researchers in the Social Sciences - Colette Einfeld & Helen Sullivan

How to Do Interpretive Research: Insights for PhD Students and Early Career Researchers in the Social Sciences - Colette Einfeld & Helen Sullivan

Interpretive research unfolds differently to conventional dissertations and research projects that many ‘how to books’ are aimed at. This presentation draws on the contents of a forthcoming edited book about the experiences of those doing interpretive and critical research in different stages of their academic careers. Each chapter is written in a narrative style, sharing experiences, stories, and vignettes about the topic, serving as both a resource and a useful and supportive guide on how to do interpretive work. The book will provide valuable insights into interpretive processes, the expectations of supervisors and examiners, and look ahead to what a career as an interpretive researcher can be like.

Colette Einfeld is a Postdoctoral Fellow at College of Asia and the Pacific. Her research broadly explores knowledge, evidence and ethics in policy making. She focusses on how different types of knowledge are reflected on and used by policy actors in the design and implementation of policy. She is also interested in the role of evidence-based policy making and how ethics are negotiated in approaches such as nudge and co-design. She is increasingly focussed on how different epistemologies are considered in policy making in the Global South. She has also researched community engagement and the social licence to operate in energy and infrastructure projects.

Helen Sullivan is a public policy researcher, teacher, advisor, and senior university leader. Her research explores the nature of state-society relationships, and their interactions with public policy systems. This includes the theory and practice of governance and collaboration, the uses of public participation, the dynamics of local/urban governance, and the impact of reform on public policy systems. Her research approach is multi-disciplinary, interpretive, and informed by the critical policy analysis school. She was President of the Australian Political Studies Association for 2020/21. Her Presidential Address, ‘How Political Studies can save the world’, addressed the challenges facing academics in an increasingly unstable global environment. In 2017 she was made a National Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia in recognition of her outstanding contribution to public policy practice.

This is a hybrid seminar: if you are on campus please join us at Seminar Room 3.72 in the RSSS Building.

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Date & time

Fri 10 May 2024, 12–1pm


Seminar Room 3.72 or Zoom


Helen Sullivan (ANU)
Colette Einfeld (ANU)

Event series


Nick Cheesman


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