Participatory Research Fund: 2022-2023 projects

Find an overview of the projects the University has funded to support and encourage participatory research across the University.


Arts and Humanities

Creative practice and/as participatory research

Project contacts: Professor Jennifer Coates and Dr Wayne Wong, School of East Asian Studies

This four-month project builds on existing collaborations with local artists and exhibition spaces to explore how creative practices can be used as participatory research methods to decolonise research on displaced peoples and diaspora from our home base here in Sheffield.

Bringing together researchers who use filmmaking, photography, and performance not only to disseminate research findings but to deepen their research methods, and professional artists who emphasise the foundational role of collaboration and research in their work, we will focus on developing practical and conceptual skills to strengthen our use of creative practices as participatory research methods.

In using creative practices to elicit participation in research on and with local diasporic communities and displaced individuals, we seek to decolonise understandings of area studies research which tend to emphasise the geographical distance of the studied peoples or objects from the researcher and their university environment.

First steps in participatory research collaborations: Negotiating hierarchies and building relationships in the initial stages of arts and humanities research funding applications

Project contact: Professor Fay Hield, Music

Drawing on the Contemporary Folklore Research Centre member’s experience from the Departments of Music and Education in particular, this project will focus on those first steps to identify the process involved in early stage project development and how they can be more genuinely co-produced.

By using a case study approach and looking at an ongoing funding application process, the resources will be grounded in contemporary experience and reflect the current funding landscape.

Aimed at Early Career and Postgraduate Researchers, these resources will guide and advise those who are new to Participatory Research and co-production in how to co-write and develop funding proposals with community organisations and marginalised groups in particular.

We will build on the findings from our literature review and community partner consultation work on the Participatory Research in Music report to put focus on the first steps in developing a participatory research project - building the foundations of a research relationship with a new organisation and developing the funding proposal.

Social Sciences

Supporting adoptive parents through creative practice

Project contact: Dr Jessica Bradley, Education

The project is a small-scale participatory research project with an adoption and arts charity and Wakefield-based arts organisation which explores questions arising across sectors and practices related to adoptive families and their needs.

This participatory research project is designed in collaboration with the charity whose work focuses on creative opportunities for adopted children who often can struggle to engage with mainstream activities such as music and drama classes. The research will focus on co-development and co-leading of six creative workshops for adoptive parents (reaching eight parents in total, including the two co-researcher parents).

Two adoptive parents from last year's workshops will be co-researchers, working with the freelance artist co-researchers and the core research team, to design and research the programme. 

Space for community to grow: Exploring participatory research methodologies for action on greenspace deprivation

Project contact: Dr Bridget Snaith, Landscape Architecture

We will work with two Black-led community activist groups as co-investigators, a democracy/ politics-based organisation in West Yorkshire and an arts-based organisation in London. We aim to co-investigate the use of participative methodologies in establishing community perceptions of and preferences for action on greenspace deprivation, in areas that have been identified as greenspace deprived using specified statistical/spatial techniques.

We are seeking to explore participatory research methods and their documentation for communities to use as effective tools for change, and investigating the potential of participatory methods in addressing a research gap in understanding community perception of greenspace deprivation.

We will use the funding available to explore and record walking/walk-and-eat methodologies with community members, and foster engagement with housing providers, local authority officers, and councillors as decision makers/budget holders/ managers for greenspace in the localities being investigated.


Co-evaluation of partnership working to develop AI dementia detection health technology

Project contacts: Dr Daniel Blackburn, Neuroscience and Professor Heidi Christensen, Computer Science

The project aims to develop a qualitative co-evaluation of the impact, legacy and learning from working together on health technology development research in an underserved community.

While there exists a growing literature on toolkits and methodologies for an inclusive and democratic approach on working in partnership with communities, there is much less on co-evaluation of the impact of work done (both direct and indirect), the legacy of partnership working, both for university/NHS researchers and for their community research colleagues and for the under reserved communities.

This project will add important value by evaluating these aspects, based on project work over the past four years. We will co-develop meaningful markers of impact, reach and legacy and share this learning in a widely accessible, co-created short film and manuscript and guidance documents.

A participatory approach exploring the experiences of acute hospital care for older people with vision impairment

Project contacts: Dr Fiona Wilson and Dr Gemma Arblaster, Health Sciences

This project will explore participatory research approaches with older people with vision impairment to explore their experiences of acute hospital care. Due to their vision impairment (combined with their older age) we will develop innovative and accessible ways to explore their experiences and pilot these in our research.

Many participating research projects use visual methods in planning research, collecting data and demonstrating findings. Visual methods are likely to be unsuitable and inaccessible for many vision impaired participants, even when using any low vision aids or strategies they might have. This work will contribute to research engagement with vision impaired people and address issues of inclusivity, diversity and equality with seldom heard populations.

The University of Sheffield orthoptic and nursing staff and students will work together with a staff and clients of a local society for the blind during this project. The project will gain a deeper understanding of the challenges.

Enhancing public engagement with research: a case study using the Mesothelioma Patient and PPI panel

Project contact: Dr Bethany Taylor, Nursing and Midwifery

This project aims to co-produce and disseminate a video documenting the experiences of the Mesothelioma UK Research Centre Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) panel members in order to educate the wider public about the role patients/ public can play in research, and support wider engagement in PPI by highlighting examples of good practice in mesothelioma.


Exploring barriers and enablers to recruiting community-based participants to psychological studies

Project contacts: Dr Nicola Buckland and Dr Chantelle Wood, Psychology

A common issue in psychological research and other disciplines is the use of recruiting convenience samples that represent participants from non-diverse backgrounds. Most psychological studies recruit University samples that are mostly White, highly educated and from high socioeconomic backgrounds.

Recruitment of participants needs to change to ensure that people from non-white and low socioeconomic backgrounds are represented in research. However, recruiting participants from the community and especially those from underrepresented groups is challenging.

Staff from social and health, cognitive and neuroscience research clusters have identified the need to explore how we can reach out to underrepresented groups and address barriers and enablers to support participation in research studies.

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