Working with partners

Ideas Bazaar 2013This toolkit is for University staff and students looking for guidance on working with partners

The page covers:

  • Why work with partners
  • Identifying potential partners
  • Establishing and maintaining a partnership

Why work with partners?

Partners can:

  • Help you to generate ideas or develop content
  • Provide a different perspective
  • Help you to design your engagement activity by presenting your research in a different way
  • Ensure your activity is a success by sharing skills and knowledge
  • Provide expertise
  • Provide additional resources for your activity
  • Enable you to try out your research in-situ
  • Put you in touch with wider audiences
  • Enhance your profile or reputation

However, it is important that you identify the purpose of each partnership at the beginning – if it does not enrich your research or engagement in some way, don’t do it.

Identifying potential partners

Start by thinking about what is needed to successfully deliver your public engagement activity and identify any gaps in knowledge, expertise or resources. Look for organisations or individuals who could fill these gaps:

  • Ask the Public Engagement & Impact Team for advice – we can put you in touch with a person or organisation from our network of partners
  • Come along to events like the Ideas Bazaar to meet a range of potential collaborative partners and discuss your research ideas (this takes place every two years in September)
  • Look at case-studies from past events like Festival of the Mind (a biennial festival of collaborative projects showcasing academic research)
  • Consider local community or interest groups that may be able to contribute to your activity – the Sheffield Help Yourself database lists contact details for local organisations
  • Consider other departments or individuals at the University who could provide support – for example, CiCS provide a range of technical services to staff both on and off campus

Establishing and maintaining a partnership

Contact partners as early on in the process as possible and establish the parameters of the project – discuss expectations and agree aims, objectives, milestones, deliverables, roles, responsibilities and contingencies before starting.

Ongoing communication is an essential part of successful partnership working. Here are some tips for maintaining good communication:

  • Draw up written agreements where possible
  • Identify key contacts
  • Produce and circulate a project timeline
  • Plan regular meetings and opportunities to check in
  • Maintain contact and update partners regularly
  • Circulate information to everyone involved