All About Collaboration: co-producing impact with a community partner

Principal Investigator: Dr Hannah Fairbrother
University of Sheffield co-investigator: Dr Abi Hackett
Collaborators: Rebecca Caswell, Eureka! The National Children’s Museum; Rachael Hand, Artist


Child in Nose EurekaEureka approached the university’s Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth (CSCY) following the opening of their new gallery 'All About Me' with the aim of working together to develop a deeper understanding of how children engage with health messages from this exhibition. Focussing in on children attending Eureka’s on-site nursery, our project explores how children go about constructing health-relevant understandings.

As the project has progressed, we have become increasingly interested in the nuts and bolts of the process of co-production with a community partner. We have worked collaboratively from the inception of the project (defining research questions, selecting participants and designing fieldwork activities) and created bespoke training sessions for front of house museum staff and nursery practitioners to carry out ethnographic fieldwork. We are working reciprocally on the ongoing data analysis and have set up a closed blog to house our reflections on the fieldwork and analysis process. We are also working with the artist, Rachael Hand, to create a visual exploration of our experience, in the form of a short book. The publication will enable community partners to make informed decisions about taking part in collaborative projects but also help to provide the impetus and understanding of this kind of research so that they have the confidence to approach to university to initiate projects. We wanted to engage with and also convey the messiness of collaborative work at all these different stages of the research process, as well as perhaps providing a roadmap for future collaborative partners. Working with an artist to create a booklet about the project has allowed us to do this using different modes, layout, image and fragments of our experiences, pieced together to give a non linear flavour of working together in this way.

Funder: Research Exchange for the Social Sciences (RESS), University of Sheffield