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Creatively expanding research from work-based learningPurpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential of creativity in work-based research and practice to yield deeper understanding of practice situations. Unexpected insights can lead one (or a team) to identify new approaches, tackling workplace issues differently, leading to unexpected outcomes of long-term impact. Design/methodology/approach – This paper draws on work conducted for a doctoral thesis, investigating the impact of work-based learning for recent masters graduates of a work-based learning programme. Fiction was incorporated into analysis of the data, creating play scripts to represent key aspects of the researcher’s perceptions and interpretations for each participant. Findings – Research participants experienced personal, professional and organisational impact, although there was considerable variability between individuals. Additionally, societal impact was wished for and/or effected. The approach to representation of analysis, which involved fictionalising participants’ experiences, created a strong Thirdspace liminality. This appeared to deepen awareness and understanding. Research limitations/implications – Such approaches can transform the researcher’s perspective, prompting insights which lead to further adventure and development in work-based research and practice. Practical implications – Managers and employees taking creative approaches in the workplace can prompt wide-ranging development and, with professional judgement, be constructive. Social implications – Managers and employees taking creative approaches in the workplace can prompt wide-ranging development and, with professional judgement, be constructive. Originality/value – The creation of play scripts, representing an interpretation of participants’ stories about their work-based learning experience, is an innovative feature of this work.