Disrupting the Obligation of Objective Knowledge in Dance Science Research

Louisa Petts, Ashley McGill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Through pressure from funding and governing bodies, an audit culture invades the rhetoric of the dance medicine and science research community, leading to undue focus on justifying and legitimizing the holistic benefits of dancing. This paper critiques this hierarchical value system which disproportionately favors objective, generalizable, and quantitative research approaches still dominant in dance medicine and science, existing since the founding of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) in 1990. Purpose: Whilst this may mean studies are generalizable when applied to broader contexts, objective outcomes lack granularity and do not automatically lead to appropriate, meaningful, inclusive, or accessible dance experiences for everyone. Subjective, idiographic, ethnographic, embodied, phenomenological, and transdisciplinary approaches to dance medicine and science research have great potential to broaden, deepen, and enrich the field. Conclusions: This paper highlights the tensions between qualitative and quantitative methodologies, advocating that researchers can rigorously embrace their positionality to contribute toward ontological and epistemological clarity with any researcher bias, assumption, or expectation transparently disclosed. The writing draws on research examples from Dance for Health (DfH) as a part of dance science and medicine field of study, including but not limited to Dance for Parkinson’s. This paper provides resourceful recommendations, encouraging researchers to remain imaginative and curious through application of arts-based, person-centered, collaborative mixed methods within their own studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Dance Medicine & Science
Early online date27 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).


  • positionality
  • subjectivity
  • phenomenology
  • person-centred
  • meaningfulness
  • Dance For Health
  • community outreach
  • embodiment


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