Project started on 1 Feb 2022
Project started on 1 Feb 2022
ParticipatoryResearch@Bath will investigate what a positive culture of research with/by/for people looks like at the University of Bath and aims to create and enhance the conditions for participatory co-produced research at the University to flourish.
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 knowledge 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.
It is research with/by/for people.
ParticipatoryResearch@Bath will be led by the Public Engagement Unit and our approach will build on a decade's worth of experience undertaking culture change work - (Engaged360@Bath and ChallengeCPD@Bath) - and our experience delivering the Community Matters community-based participatory research project. We will draw on this expertise and embed in the delivery of ParticipatoryResearch@Bath the desire to create sustained and sustainable change in the systems we have influence over at the University.
During phase one of the project, we worked to investigate the culture of participatory research at the University and work with researchers and communities to better understand the barriers and enablers of involving people in research.
Over the course of the six months of the first phase of the project, we:
worked with researchers practising participatory approaches to their research and created a number of case studies to showcase their work
worked with the Young Foundation and delivered training sessions on working with communities on research projects
carried out desk and interview-based research with colleagues from across the higher education sector and beyond to understand the features of high-quality participatory research and public and patient involvement practice. Download the participatory research benchmarking report and the public and patient involvement and engagement benchmarking report
worked 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 research projects. Discover the findings from the Community Listening exercise.
carried out small-scale pilot initiatives to broker relationships between community groups and researchers
This first phase told us lots of rich details about participatory research activities at the University. There are four headline findings from this work:
A participatory research approach, as a mindset towards research, is not consistently defined and not used equally across disciplines.
There was a significant and wide acceptance from researchers, from a wide range of different disciplines at the University, that involving people in the research process can be an important feature of high-quality and meaningful work.
Researchers told us they need greater institutional support to enable them to work effectively with citizens in their research.
Communities and public groups told us that there were limited access points to the University and as an outsider, their view and perception of the University are often limited by that experience.
Whilst these findings were unsurprising there were three findings that felt more novel and emergent for both us at the University and the across the sector:
There is a high degree of emotional labour involved in those research projects that are authentically participatory yet the support structures for those involved felt underdeveloped.
How citizens can/should be embedded in the broader research ecosystem is not well understood.
If participating in research is viewed as something different to ‘work’ then other ways to reward and recognise citizen contributions should be developed.
As part of phase two of ParticipatoryResearch@Bath we will deliver several programmes responding to the insight from community groups and researchers and investigate some of the emergent ideas further.
The aim of phase two will be to create and enhance the conditions for involving people in research effectively and equitably. We will do this by:
Delivering a programme of activities for researchers to support them to develop their capacities and capabilities for carrying out participatory research. This will include offering training and professional development opportunities, running a seed fund grant scheme and creating case studies.
Developing and delivering initiatives and programmes with/by/for communities to build relationships, better understand their needs to develop our knowledge of how engaging with our research can support their own work.
Investigating the emotional labour of researchers and citizens contributing to participatory research projects and piloting approaches to support people's welfare and wellbeing.
Carrying out an action research project to explore the features of embedding participatory approaches across the wider research system.
There has been a recent shift in emphasis on how research and society should interact. But is this change sustainable and will it have the desired effects?
Discover some of the key learnings and findings from phase one of the ParticipatoryResearch@Bath project that took place between March and August 2022.
Using participatory arts, we went out and talked to our local communities about their experiences. Find out more about what our Community Listeners discovered.