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Journal Article

Alchemy Methodology ‑ Applying the Arts to Research  pp134-141

Jocene Vallack

© Oct 2017 Volume 15 Issue 2, Editor: Ann Brown, pp57 - 141

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The difference between art and research is that, whereas art can speak for itself, research must be explained. Unlike research, art invites open interpretation from the viewers, without any need to justify or explicate its existence or the artist’s intentions. Research however, by its very nature, is a cognitive and rational product – at least in its final stages. The appreciation of postmodern perspectives in academia has given rise to methodologies for first‑person inquiries and arts‑based methods. Arts methods may provide the researcher with great insights into a research question, however the inquiry needs to be situated in a rational and philosophically aligned research framework. In this paper I present Alchemy Methodology as a theoretical framework for such research. It has been developed as an application of the pure phenomenology of Edmund Husserl, and it uses arts practice and subjective insights to inform and transform this data into universal, phenomenological insights. Alchemy Methodology is based on three principles: • that the unconscious mind is far superior to logic and cognition when it comes to navigating the complex research question, but ... • that the unconscious can only speak through images and metaphor, which ultimately must be translated through rational thought and language • that the arts‑based methods embedded in Alchemy Inquiry, can take the researcher from the most subjective reflections to the most intersubjective, universal outcomes This paper shows how the researcher can use arts practice to inspire unconscious responses to a research question, and frame these methods in a research construction, which is rigorous and informed by pure, European Phenomenology. It takes issue with a common misconception of phenomenology in research, arguing that twentieth century modernism has skewed Husserl’s transcendental philosophy into something obscure and nonsensical.


Keywords: Phenomenology, Arts Research, Qualitative Methodology, Alchemy Methodology, arts-based research, Husserl


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Journal Issue

Volume 15 Issue 2 / Oct 2017  pp57‑141

Editor: Ann Brown

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ec6b0d90e60fa8dcfba4e184b3080a78Dr Ann Brown is a Senior Lecturer in Information Management in the Faculty of Management at Cass Business School and Associate Dean for the Undergraduate programme. She took an MSc (Operational Research) at LSE while working at the British Steel Corporation as an Operational Researcher. She obtained her doctorate from City University in 2005, based on her work into the problems and potential of Information Systems applications to create Business Value for organisations. She supports a number of IS academic conferences through her work as a member of conference committees. She was a member of the editorial panel for Information and Management until 2008. Her research spans the exploitation of IS in organisations, the application of qualitative research methods and the impact of non traditional Teaching and Learning methods on student achievement, such as activity based learning. 


Keywords: qualitative, methodology, saturation, sampling, interview, coding, gerund, data analysis, constructivist grounded theory, whole networks, inter-organizational networks, evolving markets, connected health, network ethnography, anthropological research methods, insider action research, researching entrepreneurship, digital entrepreneurship, Psychogeography, focus groups, career success, gender, qualitative research, corporate culture, CQR, qualitative methods, management research, document analysis, semi-structured interviews, Delphi, Delphi method characteristics, Delphi method variants, Information systems research, Taxonomy, Taxonomy development, Phenomenology, Arts Research, Qualitative Methodology, Alchemy Methodology, arts-based research, Husserl


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