How can universities better support co-produced and participatory research?

Professor Beth Perry has been awarded Participatory Research funding from Research England (RE), recognising how participatory or co-produced research can strengthen research outcomes by involving communities and users of research.

An aerial photo of The Wave and other university buildings against the backdrop of Sheffield

Professor Beth Perry from the Faculty of Social Sciences has been awarded Participatory Research funding from Research England (RE). The focus of the RE funding recognises how participatory or co-produced research can strengthen research outcomes by involving the communities and users of research, better recognising their experience, needs and preferences, and giving greater agency to communities to implement findings.

The project is called the Co-Pro Futures Inquiry and is a joint initiative with Professor Catherine Durose (University of Liverpool) and Professor Liz Richardson (University of Manchester).

The project is taking place over three years from June 2024 to July 2026 and combines funding from the three Universities in order to convene a high-level UK sector-wide Inquiry on how to address institutional constraints to the meaningful co-production of research. It will bring together key stakeholders, including those with practical experience and expertise in co-producing research, and those from professional associations, research training bodies and research funders.

“There are many academics doing incredible work with partners across a range of sectors, but we commonly hear this is despite not because of the university context they are working in. Often advice is aimed at individual academics for how to improve their own practice, but there is not much guidance for universities in how to align systems and structures to support co-produced and participatory work. That’s why we wanted to do this Inquiry, as it is time for us to get our own houses in order.”

The Inquiry will engage different perspectives on the barriers and enabling conditions for co- productive research and produce an action plan for supporting and embedding co-productive research in HE Institutions. The aim is to transform the context and conditions for co- producing research involving universities, and thus facilitate a step-change in how research with social relevance and impact potential can be conducted.

Effectively embedding co-productive research in HE institutions can ensure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute and to benefit, enriching lives locally, nationally and internationally by directly involving a wider pool of people, organisations and approaches in research, and by supporting researchers in universities to engage with the users of research throughout the research lifecycle, from conception to outcomes.

Alongside a review of the evidence, a first step is to bring together academics and professional services staff across the three universities with those in other UK HEIs in a workshop to discuss their experiences.

The workshop is on Thursday 27th June, 0930-1230 with optional networking lunch, at 38 Mappin Street, G11, Workroom 2.

Register here to come to the workshop.  

To find out more, contact

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