International Doctoral Summer School

Application-oriented and practice-related research: "Mind the Gap" – "Find the Gap" – "Bridge the Gap"


The complex complementary relationship between academia and its practical application is a challenge for application-oriented research, and therefore also for many PhD students following so-called “cooperative doctoral studies”. It raises a variety of questions about suitable theories and methods for reducing the theory-practice gap and about suitable ways of communicating science:

  • Which approaches, discourses and challenges characterize the relationship between academia and its practical application, and how do I position myself in my doctoral project?
  • Which methods are particularly suitable for practice-based research and how do I implement them skillfully?
  • How do I succeed in "translating" scientific findings into practice and society, and the reverse?

The first HWR International Doctoral Summer School 2024 invites PhD students to reflect on and discuss these and other questions from an interdisciplinary perspective. It offers space to put the insights gained into practice immediately, in supervised writing periods or through methodological and scientific communication exercises. Participants also have the opportunity to receive subject-specific feedback on individual questions regarding their doctoral projects. The on-site meeting at HWR Campus Schöneberg will offer the opportunity for intensive exchange and joint experimentation, for networking and for discussions in a relaxed atmosphere.

Target group

The course is aimed at doctoral students from all disciplines who want to explore conceptual, methodological and scientific communication challenges typical of application-oriented or practice-related research. It is particularly targeted at PhD students in the initial or middle phase of their doctoral project. In addition, participants at a later stage of their PhD, who are interested in and are looking to deepen their understanding of the topics mentioned above are also invited to join.

The HWR Berlin International Doctoral Summer School is run by professors from the Berlin School of Economics and Law in cooperation with international colleagues. The language of instruction is English.

After an introduction, including a keynote lecture, icebreaking session and a presentation of the PhD projects as well as an initial exchange on relevant questions in the current phase and around the PhD process, the Summer School is divided into four major thematic blocks:

  1. In the first thematic block "Mind the Gap - Concepts of Theory and Practice", a conceptual approach to the complex and multi-layered relationship between theory and practice is undertaken. The focus is on questions such as: what does it mean to do application-oriented or practice-oriented research? Which approaches are widely recognized to capture interactions and interdependencies between theory and practice? Which practical concepts are relevant in this context? Which goals, functional logics, methods and cultures characterize the fields of "science" and " practical relevance"? What does this mean for application-oriented research?                            
  2. In the second thematic block "Find the Gap - Reflecting Concepts of Theory and Practice", the participants reflect in small groups on selected aspects from the first thematic block, for example the extent to which their own doctoral project is practically relevant or application-oriented. The question is which practical or application references I would like to address or establish. What does this mean for the necessary theoretical or conceptual embedding? How do gaps between theory and practice appear in specific disciplines?
  3. In the third thematic block "Bridge the Gap" - Suitable Methods", participants interactively explore recognized methods for the empirical reconstruction of practice. After an introduction, the participants will discuss the characteristics of the methods presented and the extent to which they could be suitable for closing typical gaps between theory and practice. In small groups, the participants discuss selected methods in depth depending on their needs. The focus will be on two or three methods or methodological challenges that are relevant for many (e.g. surveys, common methods bias) or are particularly suitable for reducing the theory-practice gap (e.g. design research, action research, participation research).
  4. In the fourth thematic block, "Science to the Point - Public Communication", participants learn how experienced science communication can facilitate the transfer of knowledge and increase the visibility of their own research. After a theoretical approach to common formats (research platforms, social media, audiovisual media, etc.) and their advantages and disadvantages, they reflect on personal self-presentation and communication goals. They also practice translating their own research interests and findings adequately into a wider societal audience.

The participants can individually deepen their understanding of everything they have worked on together during the four thematic blocks - be it in partly guided writing phases or in designated time slots for feedback discussions. The broad offering of doctoral courses will be accompanied by fun evening sessions and plenty of time for networking with the professors and peers.

This ist he first draft of our International Doctoral Summer School program.

Application Process