INVITED LECTURE at Per/forming Futures
Artistic research/Practice as Research: when, and how, does an arts process become a PhD?
Robin Nelson | University of London, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
This talk revisits tensions between artist-researchers (some of whom want to claim that their arts practice just is
research), and the institutional scepticism in other disciplines and in PhDs/REF where it is still sometimes doubted
that arts practice can ever constitute research. Drawing upon my experience of both practice and consultancy in the
UK and abroad, the aim is to clarify the distinction (as institutionally understood in the UK at least) between arts
practices and “academic research”. The talk will also address why I advocate for arts PhDs (as distinct from
professional doctorates) and touch on the support needs specific to PaR PhDs.
Prof. Robin Nelson. Director of Research and Professor of Theatre and Intermedial Performance (2010 – 2015) at
University of London, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Robin remains (in semi-retirement) a Professorial
Fellow. He is also an Emeritus Professor of Manchester Metropolitan University where he worked for many years.
Twice an RAE/REF sub-panel member, he has himself published widely on the performing arts and media. Recent
books include Practice as Research in the Arts: Principles, Protocols, Pedagogies, Resistances(2013), Stephen
Poliakoff on Stage and Screen(2011), and Mapping Intermediality in Performance(co-edited with S.Bay-Cheng et