Co-produced research focuses on creating two-way dialogues between researchers and target non-academic groups. This recognises and values the expertise, skills and knowledge of non-academics enabling meaningful interaction with other partners, the co-creation of research questions, and shared delivery of research. Partners may include user communities; members of the public; practitioners; patients; private, voluntary sector or public organisations.
The National Institute of Health Research gives the following definition:
“Co-producing a research project is an approach in which researchers, practitioners and the public work together, sharing power and responsibility from the start to the end of the project, including the generation of knowledge.”
Co-produced, engaged, research should seek to:
- influence policy and practice
- build on a culture of reciprocity
- respect different expertise and diverse values
- arise from and respond to the needs of diverse partners
- have outcomes that are beneficial (although not necessarily the same) for all partners
- be of the highest ethical standards
- be sensitive to partners’ wishes for privacy and confidentiality
- learn from those with other types of experience, including lived experiences
The Dynamics of Engaged Research
There are three main phases in the engaged research cycle:
- Engaging Phase: Creating the conditions for community engagement
- Delivery Phase: Developing and delivering the project
- Follow On Phase: Working towards agreed process or outcome
There is no one way to co-produce research and the project participants, direction, and outcomes will emerge as the activities progress and you spend more time working with your stakeholders. However, these phases may help guide you when planning your project outline.
Your own Co-Produced Research
If you are planning your own co-produced research, here are some questions to consider:
- Motivations: What draws you towards considering an engaged research approach? What benefit will engaged research bring to your research?
- Stakeholders: Do you have existing contacts? Who would you ideally want to partner with? Talk to your colleagues, who have they worked with?
- Logistics: When are you in the research process? What is feasible? What processes, structure, governance do you need to include in your research? Advisory group, co-researchers, place-based working etc.
- Impacts: How will you know you’ve been successful?