1. Bonn (05/2012)
The CONSIDER project held its first workshop during the 5th Living Knowledge Conference (10-12 May 2012) in Bonn, Germany. CONSIDER was represented by Kutoma Wakunuma, Martine Legris Revel, Simon Pfersdorf and Martin Sand.
The aim of the 5th living knowledge conference was to see how “knowledge co-creation could be advanced in the coming years” between the different stakeholders. The conference also gave an opportunity for further discussions and sharing of results from projects involved with the Public Engagement with Research and Research Engagement with Society (PERARES).
From this, a cohort of projects were presented usually focusing on among other aspects:
Community based partnerships and/or the need for such partnership,
How partnerships could be established,
How knowledge could and was being shared and
A general reiteration of the importance of involving and seeing community based entities/CSOs as important partners in research and knowledge creation.
Based on this, the CONSIDER workshop aimed to capitalize on a number of elements which included introducing the project, understanding experiences of other research projects as well as establishing links with CSOs.
The idea was to divide the workshop into three components:
Introduction of the workshop (led by Dr. Martine Legris Revel)
Background of CONSIDER project (led by Simon Pfersdorf)
Moderation and discussion (led by Dr. Kutoma Wakunuma)
Under the theme “story telling: partnerships and impact”, the team presented CONSIDER to an audience of approximately 20 people. After the introduction and background information, the audience was invited to participate in an open discussion where they were asked to share their experiences. The following questions were asked of the audience:
What kind of research project ?
What have been your experiences with CSOs participating in research projects ?
What where your expectations ? What were your outcomes ?
How do you evaluate these processes?
The intention was to gain an understanding of the audiences experience of CSOs and research which could potentially be useful for the CONSIDER project. Several members of the audience gave their input. Here are mentioned some of these insights, presented here anonymously:
First participant - (Chairman of an EU Project)
His project uses Participatory action research researching Roma, Travellers and other marginalized groups in his country. As a University researcher, he stated that at times he is frustrated because his aim and expectations are to have a useful project that understands Roma’s world with Roma involvement.
Second participant – (SM, University in the UK)
SM has undertaken collaborative research projects with a number of NGOs. Some partnerships have been long term and lasted about 10-11 years. SM indicated that this was important particularly if there were to result in any meaningful impact. Expanding on this, she indicated that partnerships which could be grouped into integral partnerships and co-research were essential and that NGOs have impact in different ways. She went on the say that impact could result if:
research was relevant to all stakeholders,
both non-academic and academics were active in networking
partners continue to use research to influence policy in policy consultation as well as policy negotiations
there was credibility and trust
research was closer to user’s needs
there were long term partnerships because good partnerships are not quick.
Lastly she added that the dimensions of partnerships needed shared:
For all this to happen, SM stated that it needed truly willing academics.
Third participant – (JB, University in Holland)
JB has been involved with a number of different CSOs who she said have played different roles including as Innovators. As a researcher her role with CSOs has differed according to the type of CSOs her work has been involved with and according to the type of research being undertaken to include: “we” follow/ advise/ take initiative. She further stated the following “We are inside the Public debate which is at the same time constraining because some CSOs do not wish to dialogue, and fostering because CSOs may help to recruit others. You need to assess their different roles in your project: what do you expect from CSOs? Keep an open mind”.
Fourth and fifth participants – (U and S, Science Shop in the EU)
U and S advised of the need to be careful as a lot of NGOs are including academics. They were of the opinion that the distinction outlined in the CONSIDER presentation was superficial adding that some NGOs do not come in participatory form. U and S further stated that NGOs expect to have a say in the design of the research even if it may jeopardize scientific standards. They ended by saying that NGOs should say what the issues are within a project.
Sixth participant – (PERARES project researcher)
The participant stated that there was potential for social disruption between NGOs and researchers. He stated that they may develop their own research while needing long time relationships. The relevance for them to get involved in a research is more and more limited.
Seventh participant (TC, University in the USA)
As TC works with community based CSOs, he questioned whether CONSIDER intended to include community based CSOs or not. He thought it would be important to do so if this had not been considered yet.
Eighth participant – (NB, PERARES researcher)
Domestic violence and pregnancy was chosen to attract CSOs working on these issues. PERARES wants to explore the dimensions of collaboration between science shops and CSOs. Therefore the consortium organizes different projects like studies on this topic. The CSOs posed questions that science shops turned into scientific issues which were included in the teaching curriculum then. CSO and academic cooperation often relies on the good understanding of the researcher or student and the CSO. Science shops can often only make the connection and review the results.
Summary of CSOs expectations
In summary expectations from those involved with CSOs and research included:
• A need to get access to literature
• The need to use research for lobbying
• The need for a lot of diversity in CSOs activities
• Equal and long term partnerships
The CONSIDER team had expected several CSOs representatives to be present during the workshop. However, what was apparent was the presence of more researchers than CSOs. Despite this, the team was hopeful that there was some relevant information that might be useful to take on board for the CONSIDER project i.e. some of the feedback from the workshop audience. This will help the Porto’s meeting event preparation, and allow us to focus on Csos research needs.
Contacts with Perares FP7 leaders were positive and we intend to organize a meeting with them to discuss our views on participative research.