P4. Simplify processes
Administrative and bureaucratic requirements linked to research are daunting for all research project participants. CSOs often do not have the relevant knowledge, fail to comprehend the terminology and do not have the resources to address these demands. Non-research organisations including CSOs are already disadvantaged with regards to these processes because they lack the organisational capacities to comply with processes (e.g. co-funding, reporting, financial accounting).
Research policymakers need to understand this situation if they are to shape research policies that are welcoming to CSO involvement.
When designing research policy and principles of research administration, policymakers should ask:
Are the bureaucratic and administrative burdens appropriate and justified?
If CSO involvement in research is sought, has thought been given to how processes fit with the specific needs of CSOs?
Is simplification of processes or requirements possible for specific stakeholders such as CSOs who struggle to comply with them?
Example: Ethics review as an administrative hurdle for CSO
One CSO experienced particular difficulties in managing a required ethics approval process. Tasked to undertake user testing of severely disabled users for whom a brain computer interface technology was being developed, the CSO found obtaining the required ethical approval very challenging. The problem stemmed from the fact that the technology being developed was seen as a medical device which required a full national ethics review. However, because the CSO had no experience of acquiring ethical approval and the fact that the process of acquiring such approval was a long drawn out and complicated process, it meant that they were at a disadvantage which could have resulted in delays or a lack of realisation of results on their part.
Fortunately for the CSO, they were able to partner with a University they had prior historical connections with. Although not part of the consortium, that University was able to help them with gaining the ethics approval in time for the CSO to conduct their part of the project work.
'Having the help and support and being able to more easily overcome all the ethical problems that work and testing with end users has. That’s clearly something that would help'. (CSO Representative)