Arts-based research is the use of the artistic process and the actual making of artistic works, as a means of understanding and examining experience by both researchers and research participants. This form of inquiry explores the arts as performance, a mode of persuasion, pedagogy, self-reflection and representation of knowledge. Arts based researchers use art forms that include visual (e.g., photography, film, sketching) and performing arts (e.g., drama, dance, music), as well as forms borrowed from literature (e.g., poetry, storytelling).
Using arts based methods, researchers challenge the idea that research and understanding must conform to the norms of science, asserting instead that art is equal to—and in certain circumstances more appropriate than—text and language based, objectively driven forms of inquiry. Accordingly, they aspire to create and facilitate spaces for dialogues among researchers, participants, and audiences, encouraging role reversal and shifts in power relations that can otherwise stifle opportunities for participants to shape research agendas and audiences to question practitioners. It has been suggested that in arts-based research, meaning making in contextual realms of art and social science intersect and reconfigure to become something that is not strictly identifiable as either art or science.
***Contributed by Cassandra Phoenix for Hackfort, D., Schinke, R. J., & Strauss, B. (Eds.). (2019). Dictionary of sport psychology:sport, exercise, and performing arts. Academic Press. https://amzn.to/3ZxARzT