RESEARCH 101 
Frequently Asked Questions 
Drama Therapy Research

In meeting with students, recent graduates, and professionals interested in research, the NADTA research committee is often asked a number of questions. The committee has put together the following document to answer many of these questions. This document is for those who are curious about drama therapy research and research in general. 

If you have any resources to add to this collection of answers, or if you have a question you’d like answered, reach out to the NADTA Research Chair at research@nadta.org. No question is too big or too small!


WHAT? 

What is research?
Put simply, research is the gathering, investigation, and dissemination of information. When done formally, the investigation is systematic, likely with a specific method of inquiry and specific research question or area of focus. 

There are a variety of online tools and resources to learn more about the basics of research. Here are a few places to start:

What is drama therapy research?
Drama therapy research is the study of the profession, practices, and processes that comprise drama therapy. 
 
Drama therapy empirical research focuses on the derivation of knowledge about drama therapy and related processes/techniques from direct or indirect observation or experience. Drama therapy empirical research includes arts-based, qualitative, and quantitative methodologies.  

Learn more about existing research, visit:

What are the basic steps of the research process?
There are a variety of ways to describe the basic steps of the research process. It typically involves:

  • Finding a subject
  • Developing a hypothesis, thesis, or guiding question
  • Searching for sources dedicated to the subject of interest
  • Conducting a literature review
  • Gathering data (e.g. running tests or conducting interviews/surveys)
  • Analyzing the data 
  • Writing up the findings 
  • Revising and editing
  • Peer review
  • Publishing

For additional resources on the research process, visit the following pages:

What are the common research methods?
Drama therapy research uses all major research methodologies, including qualitative, quantitative, and arts-based approaches. 

For additional information on methodology, consider taking a look at the following videos:

What are some common research measures?
The NADTA research committee compiled a list of promising measures that could be or have been used in drama therapy research. This list is a starting point for those interested in quantitative investigations of drama therapy who are in search of measures to aid in their research.

What research topics are a priority for the NADTA and/or the field of drama therapy?
The NADTA research committee encourages a culture of inquiry. Beyond this, the research committee has prioritized empirical research on the effectiveness of drama therapy, and specifically called for an increase in quantitative research. For additional information please see the research committee’s 2019 Drama Therapy Review article: 

  • Armstrong, C. R., Frydman, J. S., & Wood, S. (2019). Prominent themes in drama therapy effectiveness research. Drama Therapy Review, 5(2), 173-216. doi: 10.1386/dtr_00002_1


WHY? 

Why is drama therapy research important?
Drama therapy research can help us better understand, develop, and promote our profession. More specifically, drama therapy research is important in that it allows us to:

  • Develop and expand theories and practices
  • Test hypotheses
  • Understand what interventions are working or not, and why interventions may or may not be effective
  • Gain additional credibility among more well-known allied professions
  • Share knowledge and experiences with peers and colleagues
  • Actively question the past and present of drama therapy and look towards its future

Why is it important to publish my graduate research?
There is a wealth of research being done by drama therapy graduate students that many people never get to read. Publishing your work is an opportunity to share your findings and perspectives with the community, to add to the conversation, and be heard. Some may be intimidated by the thought of submitting to a publishing outlet, but there is nothing to be afraid of. Many people find it an opportunity to polish their work, and grow as a writer and researcher. There’s a first time for everything and we actively encourage pursuing submission of your research for publication! 

Why are drama therapists NOT currently researching? 
Oh, but they are! The field of drama therapy research is growing, and new studies are being conducted and published each year. For an overview of the existing empirical drama therapy literature, take a look at the NADTA research committee’s compilation of empirical research.

In addition, many drama therapists have published their research in book form. For more additional references, please see the NADTA resources page.

Why are evidence-based practices important?

Evidence-based practices refer to interventions and approaches that are informed by research data as well as clinical experience. There is a healthy debate about the value and limitations of evidence-based practice. The position of the NADTA research committee is that research can help drama therapists understand what they do, and check whether or not what they believe they are doing is actually happening.

To learn more: 


WHO?

Who can conduct research?
Provided drama therapists conduct research in accordance with the NADTA Code of Ethical Principles and apply for Institutional Review Board/Research Ethics Board approval when needed, any drama therapist can conduct research!  

Who can I turn to if I have questions?
It can be hard to even know what to ask, but there are many people in the drama therapy community ready to have conversations with you about research. If you need ideas of who to talk to, here’s a start:

Who can apply for research grants?
Chances are, there is a research grant out there that you are eligible for. Typically in a call for research proposals, or on the website of organizations providing grants, there will be a description of who is eligible to apply for the particular grant (e.g. students, working professionals, professionals affiliated with a research institution). 

Grants are available at the federal, state/provincial, and/or local level, while others are from associations or private funders. Drama therapy specific grants are offered by the Drama Therapy Fund, and, in 2019, a quantitative research grant was offered by the NADTA.  


WHERE?

Where do I find existing drama therapy research?
Drama therapy research is shared through journals, books, performances, and other mediums throughout the world. If you are new to drama therapy research, the following resources provide starting places to learn more (peer-reviewed journals in italics):

Where are drama therapists conducting research?
Research is taking place in many settings and contexts, and with a variety of populations. This includes universities, hospitals, prisons, public schools, community organizations, private practices, and performance settings. Regardless of location, all drama therapy research involving human subjects must get approval from an Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Research Ethics Board (REB), and all research processes and practices must be in keeping with the NADTA Ethics Code
 
Where can drama therapy research be published? 
Many drama therapy researchers choose to submit their work to drama therapy or creative arts therapy journals (e.g. Drama Therapy Review, Dramatherapy, The Arts in Psychotherapy). However, there are no limits to which journal you can submit to; what matters is that the topic, or research approach, is in keeping with the scope of the journal. 

If you are unsure of what journals might be a good match for your paper, consider using a journal finder: 

These tools typically invite authors to enter a manuscript title and abstract, and the journal finders will match your writing up with relevant journals. 

Where do you go for IRB/REB support if you are not at a university? 
An Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Research Ethics Board (REB) is a committee affiliated with a university or organization that reviews, provides feedback, and approves research projects. The committee’s task is to ensure that research processes follow ethical principles and that participants are protected from harm. 

Not everyone has a direct connection with an institution or organization that has its own IRB or REB. If this is the case for you, we highly encourage you to consider:

  • Collaborating with a colleague or researcher who is more directly connected to an institution or organization with its own IRB/REB. 
  • Setting up your own IRB (e.g. Behavioral Health Research Collective is an example of this)

Where can I access contemporary drama therapy research literature?
Many current students, recent grads, and independent researchers in drama therapy find it difficult to access relevant research literature. In response to this challenge, the NADTA Research Committee has developed a list of open access resources, as well as ideas, to help point you in the direction of accessible information.

In addition, members of the NADTA have free access to Drama Therapy Review.


WHEN?  

When do journals accept submissions and when are the deadlines to submit work to be published in an upcoming issue of a journal?
For journals that publish issues each year, they typically accept submissions throughout the year, so you can submit at any time. However, some journals have set submission deadlines for a particular issue or issues with a theme for which there is a special call. As an example, for the Drama Therapy Review, the deadline for the fall publication is February 1st of each year, and the deadline for the special issue is August 1st of each year. 

  • A special issue of a journal is one that is dedicated to a specific topic. These topics can vary and range in scope from clinical populations to research methodologies. We advise that, prior to submitting your work to a special issue, you ensure it specifically meets the special issue call for papers.
  • Once you submit an article for publication, it can take several months or more before you hear back (this varies from journal to journal). If your article is accepted, there may be several rounds of reviews and edits prior to publication.  


HOW?

How do I figure out what my research question is?                          
There is no single path to developing a research question, and each researcher will have their own journey. For many though, the journey involves reading existing literature, thinking about one’s interests, looking for gaps in current knowledge, and talking to a peer, colleague, mentor, or research supervisor. 

How can I get more involved in research?             
The best way to learn more about research is to get involved! If particular methodologies, approaches, and subjects are of interest to you, consider collaborating or volunteering: 

  • Reach out to teams and labs at your local university/college (think outside of drama therapy!)  
  • Join the research committee, contact: research@nadta.org
  • Start your own project!                  

How can I find a research mentor?                                           
In the NADTA community, there are plenty of ways to get connected. As the research community is growing, there are many people interested in collaborating, sharing ideas, and learning from one another. It can be difficult to get started. Here are some ideas from our community on how to find a research mentor: 

  • If you attend the NADTA conference, go to a research presentation that interests you, or go to the presentation of an author/writer that interests you. Ask a question during the presentation and introduce yourself afterwards. Most researchers in drama therapy will be flattered and excited to know that people are interested in their work.
  • In most research articles, there is contact information listed for the author(s). If you have a question or comment about the research you are reading, or a related project you are working on, feel free to reach out and ask a question!                                         
  • Check out the NADTA mentorship program
  • Get in contact with a Board Certified Trainer

Suggestions:

  • Consider reaching out to someone who is one step ahead of you in the research process (e.g. if you’re a first year student, or just starting your AT journey, consider reaching out to a fellow student that is near the end of their program/track; if you’re considering publishing an article, consider reaching out to someone who just published their first article). 

How do I get my work published if I am not at a university?
You do not have to be affiliated with a university to publish your work. You can submit to a journal as an independent researcher, or as a researcher in affiliation with a place of work (e.g. community organization, clinic). Of course, if you are working with human participants you will have to get Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Research Ethics Board (REB) approval in order to conduct your research in the first place.