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BiReCon: collaborative research and accountable engagement

BiReCon: collaborative research and accountable engagement

Meg Barker's research on the bisexual community, particularly in the UK has led to Meg setting up, with colleagues from inside and outside the OU, the biennial BiReCon event. BiReCon stands for both Bisexual Research Conference and also Bisexuality Reconnaissance. This double meaning reflects the fact that it is an opportunity both for researchers to disseminate and discuss their work with community members, and for public organisations and activist groups to gather information about bisexual communities. There is an emphasis, in this, on organisations developing policy and 'best practice'. For example, lesbian, gay and bisexual organisations learning what it means to be fully inclusive of the 'B' in 'LGB', and policy makers hearing about the specific needs of bi people, such as invisibility and double discrimination. BiReCon 2008 led to useful online discussions of the latter by both UNISON and the NUS, for example. The international nature of BiReCon 2010 presents the possibility of other countries adapting the conference to their own needs in future.

BiReCon is significant because it opens up possibilities for publics to be involved in research. This means that we have worked with bisexual communities to develop research questions of direct relevance to them, and collaborated with them on data collection and data analysis activities, as well as feeding back to them in community newsletters and developing research outcomes collaboratively. This research is truly accountable and puts engagement at the heart of the process.

Contact: 

Meg Barker