‘Knowledge once divided can be hard to put together again’: an epistemological critique of collaborative and team-based research practices

Natasha Susan Mauthner, Andrea Doucet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


This article critically examines team and collaborative research as an 'academic mode of production'. Our main argument is that while theoretically qualitative social science research is rooted within a postfoundational epistemological paradigm, normative team-based research practices embody foundational principles. Team research relies on a division of labour that creates divisions and hierarchies of knowledge, particularly between researchers who gather embodied and contextual knowledge 'in the field' and those who produce textual knowledge 'in the office'. We argue that a theoretical commitment to a postfoundational epistemology demands that we translate this into concrete research practices that rely on concerted team-based relations rather than divisions of labour, and a reflexive research practice that strives to involve all team members in all aspects of knowledge construction processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-985
Number of pages15
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • collaboration
  • contextual knowledge
  • divisions of knowledge
  • divisions of labour
  • embodied knowledge
  • epistemology
  • reflexivity
  • research teams
  • textual knowledge
  • qualitative data

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