Historical interaction between Marrickville City Council and Monash University resulted in a postgraduate research opportunity within the Cooks River Sustainability Initiative. The aim of the social research was to critically examine the project and capture important insights and lessons learned. Such research is perceived to deepen insights and learning beyond general project evaluation and is understood as having the potential to contribute critical insights that practice-based reflections, on their own, are unlikely to reveal. Therefore such research substantially improves the opportunity for enabling sector-wide transitions towards more sustainable practices. While this model of (industry-funded) scientific research alongside real-life projects is increasingly advocated, literature pays little attention to the ways by which such research is conducted. Research methodology may detail specifics of the qualitative or quantitative nature of the research, however the practical dynamics and challenges are not often reflected upon. This paper presents a first-hand personal reflection on the research project within the Cooks River Sustainability Initiative. It aspires to provide broader understanding of what a process of social research entails and how research allows for in-depth insights and learning. Findings from this study can help both industry actors and social researchers in defining expectations of future research opportunities. In addition, it may help industry actors to create an enabling environment for research to be undertaken and may support researchers to prepare for implementation of their research.
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