With funding from Research England, today we're kicking off ParticipatoryResearch@Bath, a project that will be investigating the culture of participatory co-produced research at the University of Bath, and we need your help!
Working together with people and communities
Participatory research is often used as an umbrella term and encompasses a number of different practices. For this project we are keeping our definition broad, for us, it is an approach to research where researchers and people outside academia co-produce research together.
A participatory research approach is not restricted to any one particular discipline, what it looks like in practice will be different for different disciplines. It could be engineers working with patients to involve them in the research and development of medical devices or it could be young people in the care system working with academics to carry out research of their experiences.
People are at the core of this approach to research; participatory research involves people who are concerned about or affected by an issue taking a leading role in producing knowledge.
It is research with/by/for people.
Participatory research is an approach that is distinct from inviting people being to be research participants, contributing to research prioritisation exercises, taking part in a dialogue about a research topic, or being on the receiving end of some research communication. In participatory research academics and people outside academia are co-researchers in a partnership of equals, all with equal power, credibility and authority working together for equal and mutual benefit.
This approach covers the whole research cycle and involves participatory principles and practices for originating, designing, conducting, analysing, and acting on a piece of research.
A participatory approach to research is common across several departments and research centres at the University of Bath, with some pockets of high-quality good practice. Over the next six months, the ParticipatoryResearch@Bath project will draw on this work and investigate the culture of participatory research across the University.
Building on the learning from our Community Matters community-based participatory research project and our work to embed and sustain a positive culture of public engagement with research through the Engaged360@Bath and ChallengeCPD@Bath projects, we've developed a programme of undertake work across the following areas:
- Mapping – look at the current participatory research and public, patient involvement practice at the University
- Listening – work with community groups and organisations across Bath and North East Somerset to better understand the needs of people outside the University, and the potential barriers and enablers of participating in co-produce research projects
- Benchmarking – carry out desk and interview-based research from across the higher education sector, and beyond, to understand the features of high-quality participatory research and public, patient involvement practice
- Testing – carrying out small scale pilot initiatives to broker relationships between community groups and researchers
- Supporting – developing interventions would support professional development for researchers and communities in participatory research
- Sharing –work with researchers practising participatory and public, patient involvement approaches to their research to raise the profile of them and their work
This work aims to create the conditions for participatory research to flourish at the University of Bath. ParticipatoryResearch@Bath will help us understand good practice, any gaps in practice, and better understand the needs of communities outside of the University to empower them to participate fully in research, all of which will inform changes to institutional activities and processes and ensure that we are ready to support further participatory research in the future.
Do you use a participatory approach to your research? Are you interested in developing your skills and expertise in participatory research? Do you want to know more about the ParticipatoryResearch@Bath project? We'd love to hear from you and find out about your work and your experiences. Get in touch by dropping us an email (email@example.com).
Dean Veall is Deputy Head of Public Engagement at the University of Bath