Research funders and users are increasingly looking to fund collaborative, action-based research that brings together academics and research teams with local authorities, community groups and other stakeholders, in order to improve the social impact of research and gain a greater understanding of the effectiveness of policies and interventions in practice.
These collaborative research programmes offer valuable insight into the practicalities and efficacy of the ‘real world’ implementation of different policies, whether aimed at, for example, changing the behaviour of individuals or working with communities to bring about more systemic change. However, they also raise important conceptual questions regarding the robustness, validity and generalisability of data generated, as well as posing practical challenges for all involved.
In March 2011, SDRN organised a small workshop in collaboration with DECC with the aim of bringing together those within research and policy involved in such projects. The workshop sought to provide an opportunity to share learning, discuss current challenges, and consider how best to undertake collaborative action-based research in the future.
This short report summarises the main discussions and findings from the workshop, setting out the main points of discussion and including a consideration of the challenges of action-based research approaches and the ways in which these can be overcome. It concludes with a discussion of the main strengths of the approach and poses questions which those involved in action research should consider for the future. Finally, the report’s annex presents a snapshot of some of the projects currently being undertaken in the UK.
Download the report here