Transdisciplinary approaches to research are increasingly touted for the messy social and environmental problems of our time. Such problems transcend disciplinary boundaries, are intertwined with sociopolitical context, and require participation of stakeholders to generate socially acceptable outcomes. A substantial barrier to transdisciplinary (TD) research is devising and applying evaluative criteria or schemas for an approach that is recognized as necessarily tailored, flexible and evolving. This paper addresses the challenge of shaping, supporting and evaluating transdisciplinary research. Firstly, we synthesise the literature on TD research characteristics, highlighting areas of emerging consensus and some implications of these for research design, execution and quality evaluation. Secondly, we present an adaptable heuristic called the TD Wheel (TDW). The TDW is a synthesis of the disparate insights available within the current literature, and is presented as an organizing graphic for TD research. We explain how the TDW has utility at three stages of the research process: shaping (planning and proposing research); supporting (guiding research in-train); and evaluating (planning for evaluation, periodically documenting/checking progress, and reporting on outcomes). The TDW is a provocative graphic geared to help researchers visualize and discuss the elements and process of TD research.