How can policy makers, practitioners and community members be included in the research process, not just as interviewees or survey respondents but in the actual design and delivery of the research?
The value of involvement
Children’s Services interviewees saw consulting with and including policy makers and/or practitioners as improving the credibility of the research findings, making sure they are applicable and practically orientated. Furthermore, a literature review (Nutley et al., 2003) found evidence that practitioner involvement did indeed lead to greater use and impact of the research findings.
How to involve stakeholders
- Representation on steering groups
Research is often guided and advised by a steering group. It is important to think carefully about its membership and consider whether it would be valuable to include those who may eventually be affected by the research findings (e.g. young people, teachers, particular ethnic groups). Case Study 3
- Involvement in research design
Consider whether stakeholders could contribute to the design of the research. For example, they could advise on survey/interview questions, providing insights into the most appropriate language to use for particular groups. They might also be able to comment on the likely effectiveness of different research methods (e.g. what methods would be most appealing to young people).
- Involvement in data collection
In order to gain access to particular localities or types of interviewee, it may help to involve stakeholders in the collection of data. They could be aware of data collection opportunities in their local area or may have contact with hard to reach groups.
- Involvement in dissemination
Consulting with relevant stakeholders when planning dissemination could also help research reach its target audience and they could comment on the suitability of dissemination materials (are they relevant to the intended audience, are they understandable?).
- Focus groups to discuss key findings
The views of stakeholders could also be sought during the final phases of a research project. Focus groups could be held which draw together experts, policy makers and/or members of the community to comment on the findings. As well as verifying the issues uncovered by the research, the perspectives of key stakeholders couldhelp develop the recommendations and ensure that they are relevant to the localarea.