CONSIDER will address at least three central issues:
1) It will explore the knowledge and research potential of CSOs
2) it will investigate how CSOs are involved in research processes
3) it will use this knowledge to inform policy makers on how to integrate CSOs in further research activities.
WP1 will initially ask on which grounds CSOs can be involved in research activities. WP1 will begin by conceptualising CSO involvement in the overall theory of research governance. As a result, a theoretical answer will be given to the question of why CSOs are involved in research processes. With reference to current literature, the main models of participatory involvement will be identified. The findings will indicate what best practice of CSO participation in research can achieve.
A core question going beyond the mere description of CSOs in research governance is how CSO engagement in research can be evaluated. The way CONSIDER addresses this question will be based on the grid of analysis, developed throughout WP1, and will incorporate both theoretical analysis and the patterns which emerge from the empirical investigation of current research projects.
WP1 will initially explore how best to account, on normative grounds, for the role of civil society in new modes of research governance. This will involve a kind of tour of the theoretical landscape. The point is to focus specifically on the role of civil society and will take into account the tensions and complementarities between participatory approaches and deliberative approaches and consider the institutionalisation of CSO participation:
- It will give an historical review of the dynamics that have made very salient both the role of civil society and legitimacy concerns in research and research governance.
- It will deal with this issue of how to conceptualize politics today – the necessity to acknowledge the opening process and the necessity of analysing its theoretical grounding foundation – in short what is the actual theoretical grounding regarding civil society organisation participation and will have as aims the determination of criteria to analyse participatory experiences?
- It will determine the characteristics of our object of analysis justify the relationship between conceptual approaches and empirical field stud.
- Deduce from the theoretical landscape key parameters to underlie field analysis.
- Create the groundwork for a grid of analysis.
The grid of analysis plays a central role in the project. An analytical grid is a means to uncover the preconceptions underlying claims, judgements, views, or in this case the implementation of CSO participation in research. Essentially, in applying the analytical grid we are shining a light on the (perhaps unstated) assumptions that underwrite any given position. Using an analytical grid is like being a reverse engineer, or acquiring an object and deriving its design on the basis of its appearance rather than designing from scratch an object with a purpose.
WP1 is central to implementing these steps and delimiting the research in general in order to create coherent research as well as a strong foundation on which to base means of assessment for participatory practice, and for policy advice. This WP also contributes centrally to the grounding the overall vision, or trajectory of study, for the project as a whole.