C5. Raise your visibility
As a first step towards participation in research, a CSO can gradually build up strong relations with research & innovation bodies. By collaborating on occasional activities (e.g. events, volunteering, field visits) on a regular basis and not only on specific research projects, trusting relationships and mutual understanding are established. This helps to raise visibility and give the CSO access to academic settings. CSO leaders should use their networking skills to build relations in academia. In turn, as the CSO’s activities develop, their credibility and capability to shape and lead research & innovation projects grows, thus advancing their cause.
The following questions could guide CSO leaders in their decision-making:
What are our current connections with universities and research centres?
Which universities locally are conducting research relevant to our mission?
What are the experiences of other CSOs in building relations with researchers?
Example: Academic board member of a CSO
One project focused on the difficulties that female refugees and asylum-seekers face once in their destination country. This project was led by a CSO that also carries out research as part of its core activities, and involved another CSO working with the specific group. The two CSOs and the academic partner had collaborated in the past on similar projects. The academic and the main CSO were particularly close and the academic went on to become a Board member of the CSO. It is clear that collaboration in the project was based on good relations between individuals. This prior contact allowed mutual respect and understanding to grow between the academic and civil society sides.