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Engaging Research in the Digital University – a civil society perspective

Engaging Research in the Digital University – a civil society perspective

 URL for project website/blog http://engagingresearch.net

What research questions the project addresses, aims & themes

Researchers and funders in the UK are increasingly recognizing the links between user engagement with research processes/outputs and the impact of research for policy and practice (HEFCE et al 2011, Facer et al 2012). An emerging movement around ‘open scholarship’ has connected the use of digital resources (e.g. open access publications, blogs, wikis, podcasts, interactive data visualisations etc.) to new levels of openness in the production and communication of research with implications for accessibility, relevance and participation (Goodfellow and Lea 2013; Pearce et al 2010; Weller 2011). Yet one of the paradoxes of the open research movement is that studies have focused primarily on the design and use of digital resources in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) with few attempts to understand engagement from the perspective of the public, commercial sector and especially civil society. This fellowship addresses this knowledge gap by examining the potential of open research resources to enhance engagement from the perspective of practitioners in Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the UK’s International Development sector.

How the research questions are addressed by the project (methodology and activity/environment)

 The project has three overarching aims, each with a series of related objectives:

  1. Synthesise what is already known about NGO practitioners’ engagement with research and use of open research resources: 

    1. Review/synthesise the literature to establish what is already known about:
  1. civil society engagement with research processes and outputs; and
  2. use of digital research resources by civil society practitioners
    1. Conduct a survey and follow-up interviews with NGO practitioners to further probe their experiences and perspectives of research engagement and use of open research resources in the context of the international development sector
    2. Through a collaborative workshop with a selection of NGO practitioners, develop typologies of
  1. research engagement; and
  2. open research resources
  1. Explore the role of open research resources in enabling/constraining engagement with research and identify the types of literacies and institutional enabling environments necessary for effective use of resources by NGO practitioners
    1. Participatory journaling with practitioners from a selection of NGOs over a three month period to capture interaction with research resources in the context of their daily professional practices
    2. Through a collaborative workshop with a selection of NGO practitioners, analyse:
  • the ways in which the open research resources identified through the journaling constrain and/or enable engagement
  • the types of ‘engagement literacies’ necessary for effective use of the resources
  • the types of ‘enabling environment’ necessary for effective use of the resources
  1. Enhance current guidelines for public engagement and open scholarship by better incorporating the perspectives of civil society
    1. Drawing on findings relating to the above aims, draft a list of potential recommendations around design of open research resources for engagement and the type of engagement literacies and enabling environments necessary for effective use of the resources
    2. Undertake a Delphi survey (2-3 rounds) with practitioners and academics to comparatively explore the responses of different researchers/research users to the guidelines
    3. Working with the ELRHA, INTRAC, DSA, NCCPE, Vitae and JISC, use the results to develop guidelines and resources for researcher development for both practitioners and academics. Disseminate findings at a final workshop bringing together CBO practitioners, academic researchers and research developers.

 Current activities

  • Development of project website
  • Conceptual mapping of open engagement literature
  • Survey to NGO practitioners in the UK

Findings and outputs

  • In the process of being analysed

People involved

Jude Fransman (PI)

Kate Newman (Christian Aid)

David Archer (ActionAid International)

Jill Russell (International HIV/AIDS Alliance)

Project partners and links

 Christian Aid

ActionAid International

International HIV/AIDS Alliance

Funder(s)

Leverhulme (Early Career Fellowship)

Start Date and duration

Start: 01.09.2014

 

Research & Innovation