Inquiry-Driven Approach to Research as Integrative and Complex

Throughout much of scientific history, exploration of a topic has been developed and completed within disciplinary silos. Researchers have followed paradigmatic and methodological investigations within their respective fields. While consensus regarding what exactly makes transdisciplinarity research. One component that is widely accepted is the transcendence of disciplinary boundaries through an inquiry-driven form of understanding the topic versus this siloed disciplinary approach (Martin, 2017).

While resilience has its roots in ecological and systems perspective, it saw some fundamental groundwork done in the medical community. While currently there is a great breadth of research related to the topic of resilience (Campbell, 2019), the focus on understanding trauma and its adverse effects were brought to the forefront with medical doctors researching in collaboration with Kaiser Permanente. Felitti et al.’s (1998) seminal work on adverse childhood experiences was completed by and for medical doctors. The quantitative methods used to examine the patient’s history and medical outcomes fit well under the domain of the medical community.

In examining inquiry-driven versus discipline-focused research, the topic of trauma and resilience provides a useful example to consider. There was a need for there to be extensive understanding of trauma and it’s effects within one discipline. It is a topic that has indeed expanded to be a more topic-based area of study verses squarely being positioned from a particular academic field.

All researchers do not hold the need to have a transdisciplinary approach to the inquiry related to resilience. Arora-Jonsson (2016) describes the need for researchers to be situating knowledge production verses the more transdisciplinary consideration of integrating knowledge production. She describes this as especially true in being able to understand the culture around resilience scholarship. Her argument appears to be in increasing the number of methods and recognizing it as a partial perspective. Martin (2017) describes transdisciplinarity requires a great deal of context. This context is the understanding of the research we are placing ourselves in, and being able to both understand that towards ourselves and towards the area we are studying that is similar to the situating ourselves that Arora-Jonsson (2016) describes. Due to the inclusion and evaluation of context, inquiry-driven research has many more layers of complexity that are built into it. These complexities are interconnected, and it would not be possible to provide a complete understanding of a topic.

In developing an integrated understanding of resilience, Acosta et al. (2017) review a roundtable conference related to resilience and looking towards future directions for resilience researchers. They provide ten different recommendations for researchers to consider moving forward in promoting transdisciplinary resilience research and practice. They examine three overlaying themes to consider for future directions in research. These include addressing the continuum of stress (e.g., from acute to chronic), developing and building resilience oriented systems, and integrating resilience principles into a broader workforce.

Integrating knowledge is a theme of transdisciplinary inquiry and a byproduct of the inquiry-driven approach described by Martin (2017). The intentionality of bringing know-how and expertise from various sources adds a greater depth to inquiry driven work. These integrations are necessarily complex, rely on context, and are interconnected components.


Acosta, J. D., Chandra, A., & Madrigano, J. (2017). An agenda to advance integrative resilience research and practice: Key themes from a resilience roundtable. Rand Health Quarterly, 7(1), 5. Retrieved from

Arora-Jonsson, S. (2016). Does resilience have a culture? Ecocultures and the politics of knowledge production. Ecological Economics, 121, 98-107.

Campbell, J. (2019). Resilience and applying a transdisciplinary lens.

Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., Nordenberg, D., Williamson, D. F., Spitz, A. M., Edwards, V., & Marks, J. S. (1998). Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 14(4), 245-258.

Martin, V. (2017). Transdisciplinarity revealed: What librarians need to know. Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC.


This essay was originally submitted as a part of the coursework for TSD 8130 - Transdisciplinarity at CIIS Transformative Studies Program.