Academic researchers are increasingly required, and rightly so, to demonstrate the impact of their work beyond the gates of the university. This has led to an increasing focus, especially in response to funded calls, on developing research partnerships that cross disciplines, sectors and borders to help address our grand societal challenges. The purpose of this paper is to set out learning from the work of the organisation the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI) and reflections on how to bring forward effective research partnerships involving users.
This paper is based on reflections and learning from the organisation CARDI which delivered a highly successful programme of interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral and cross-country research partnerships in both rural and urban areas between 2007 and 2015, across the island of Ireland.
Research partnerships that wish to involve users require time, commitment, support, understanding and a willingness to change and be challenged. This paper highlights that there are methodological, philosophical, moral, economic and of course, practical aspects to be considered.
This reflective paper is based on a case study from the island of Ireland during the period 2007–2015 working in the area of ageing and older people.
The author emphasises that for research partnerships involving users to be successful, they need to not only consider the most effective research methods but also focus on the overarching purpose of the work and adopt an ethos and practice that maximises each partner’s knowledge and expertise to their full potential.
This reflective paper focused on the characteristics associated with partnership success, i.e. communication style, values, philosophy and practice and argues that establishing effective and inclusive partnerships requires time, the appropriate framework and reviewing the process on an ongoing basis.
The issue of user involvement in research partnerships requires much more consideration. Researchers, government, funders, businesses and service providers are increasingly recognising the benefits of “user” involvement to help design programmes and services that are most effective. Nowhere is this more important than in planning and delivering services, policy and programmes for our ageing population.
O’Sullivan, R. (2018), "Research partnerships – embracing user involvement: practical considerations and reflections", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 220-231. https://doi.org/10.1108/QAOA-08-2018-0039Download as .RIS
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