Research on socio-technical system Texel

Texel is to be designed as a sustainable island. On Texel many sustainable initiatives were taken, but so far that did not conclusively lead to a sustainability transition. How could that be designed to happen? The Texel research is guided by 3 research activities that need to be done each week: 1) literature review; 2) Interviewing; and 3) reporting on the weekly meeting. Each research activity is done by one of the groups. That means that each week 3 different groups do research on the level of the system Texel, and that each group will do 2 different research activities over the course of the 6 meetings.

Literature review

The literature review is meant to enlarge your knowledge of the topic of the week and share critical appraisal.

A literature review discusses academic literature relevant to that weeks subject area. A literature review should go beyond just a simple summary of the scientific articles. Of course to discuss, it should recap the reasoning, important information and conclusions of the articles. But for synthesis and debate it is a re-structuring of insights from the articles. It might give a new interpretation to existing literature, combining insights from various perspectives, trace new or pertinent issues. The weekly literature review should conclude on topics that should be discussed in the team with regard with the Texel case.

A literature review should:

-  be organized around and related directly to the topic of the week and relevant/applicable to the Texel research question;

-  synthesize lessons from literature into a summary of what is and is not a relevant topic to debate further on with regard to the Texel case;

-  identify areas of controversy in the literature or between literature and practice;

-  formulate issues that need further debate with or attention from your co-researchers.


Tips for doing a literature review:

  1. The main readers of the review are your co-researchers in the Texel case. Take into account its interdisciplinary and international character.
  2. Find a few more articles than just required reading on the topic of the week. You may want to introduce your co-researchers to literature and insights that (one of) you (is) are already familiar with from your MSc program or else.
  3. Use proper referencing; prevent plagiarism. If you quote from a paper, put the quote between quotation marks and put a reference with the quote. Use quotes only when really necessary. Most often, you will have to translate texts in your own words, synthesizing texts of several authors.
  4. Start the review with a research question that you derived from the required reading. Conclude the review with answering that research question and apply conclusions to the Texel case.
  5. Use Scopus, Google Scholar and/or Science Direct for finding academic literature based on keywords. You can also check the reference lists of papers/reports/chapters for finding more relevant literature.

Recommended reading:

Report on weekly meeting

To build on a collective memory, the visits and lectures are reported on by the groups. The report should summarize the information and lessons about sustainable development gained from the visit or lecture. It discusses its relation to the weekly literature and topic. The report should contain conclusions on what the lessons learned would mean for the Texel case.


  1. Prepare the visit: know where you go, who will be the guest speaker and understand why we are going there and how it relates to the overall assignment (inspired by literature).
  2. Individuals of the group make notes during the meeting. Ask probing questions and clarification etc. If you get reports or other documentation, ask permission to attach that data to the report.
  3. Start drafting the report as soon as possible after the meeting as details will remain fresh only shortly.
  4. Begin the report with detailed information: date, visit/lecture, topic, learning objective. Find a good structure (sections, titles, subtitles, paragraphs, bullet points, and other organizing elements to help readers navigate) for your report. Write an introduction that sets the groundwork for the lessons and observations your group wants to contribute. Explain what you learned during the meeting. The report should contain conclusions that relate to the weekly topic and that are made relevant to the Texel case.
  5. Double check spelling and punctuation. Be aware that the reader should be able to check facts against your observations and discussion.
  6. A report is not a column. Report on facts, gained knowledge and discuss what that may mean for Texel case.


To make sure your research is grounded and well informed, every week students of one group will perform two interviews with experts in the topic of the week. In the end there will be 6x2 interviews with experts on issues relevant to the Texel case.

An interview is a qualitative method to gather data.  Responses are expressed in qualitative terms, and not in numerical terms, as is the case in for example questionnaires. The interview is used to gather data or information that you cannot find otherwise, e.g. that cannot be found in reports, newspapers, and other literature. Ideally, the interview helps you to gain insight-information on how model X was used in the debate you are studying. You have only limited time, so make sure you ask the most relevant questions.

You will do a semi-structuredinterview. This means that you have a list of questions (as a heuristic: 5 main questions max) that is worked through in a methodical manner[1]. For each question you can list some key topics that you want to have covered. If your interview does not cover these topics in his/her first answer, then you can ask follow-up questions to make sure all topics are covered. The interviewee can respond how he/she likes and does not have to 'tick a box' with their answer.

The interview report (1500-2000 words) should summarize both interviews in such a way that it makes clear what has been said by the interviewee and what are your interpretations/analysis of what has been said. Make sure to include the interview questions as well. The report should discuss the relation to the weekly literature and topic. The interview report concludes with the group’s ideas about what the lessons learned would mean for the Texel case.

The report of your interviews should be available before meeting 5.


  • Discuss your group’s interviews in the first week of the course. Think about respondents and contact them as soon as possible.
  • Schedule your interview on time. The report of your interviews should be available before meeting 5.
  • Start the interview with an ‘ice-breaker’. A simple and easy question that helps you and your interviewee to ‘warm up’. E.g. how is your organization involved in sustainability?
  • Make sure  that your questions are neutral and open, so do not steer your interviewee in a particular direction. 
  • In your choice of interviewees, you also have to keep your research questions in mind. You have to ask yourself whether the chosen person can give you information needed to answer your questions.Respondents could be professionals, entrepreneurs, civil servants, scientists, etc. Respondents may tell you about Texel, or be experienced in a similar development, sharing stories about success and failure etc. Scientists may have ideas about how to make transitions happen, analysis and diagnoses about current developments and recommendations for the Texel case.
  • Your interviewee may expect you to come there well prepared, so make sure you are.
  • In the analysis of the interviews, realise that an interviewees’ answers may be biased by the position of that person (as a political or scientific actor). Ask yourself what you have to do to have more complete or less biased information in order to fill in the blanks (an additional interview perhaps? or more literature research?).

Have a look here, and be prepared for the interview:


[1] The semi-structured interview is different from an unstructured interview, which is like a conversation without a list of questions or topics to be discussed, and different from a structured interview in which a list of specific questions is asked with a fixed format for answers (‘ticking a box’, such as a questionnaire).

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