Collaborative and Participatory Methodological Special Interest Group

Established in December 2021, this MSIG provides a supportive community of social researchers from across the UK who are interested in, or carry out, research using collaborative approaches, participatory methods or a co-design approach. Our organisers meet monthly to develop their focus and understanding of these methodological approaches. Our strength is in being a group of cross-sector, mixed-level, social researchers at different stages of our careers.

We focus on the practicalities of using and developing our research methods. The monthly meetings allow members to share their practice and/or seek advice from others. In addition, we identify annual priorities and organise events that are free and open to all.

The MSIG has prioritised three main themes for 2023, which reflect the interests, needs and expertise of the organising group. These are: 1) influencing policy, 2) impactful collaborative and participatory methods, and 3) research with children and young people.

The MSIG is organised by a group of social researchers committed to these methods. The activities, events and resources that are created and delivered are free and open to everybody interested in these approaches.


Critical Conversations webinar series

This webinar series is designed to create a space for critical conversations to emerge, so that participants can explore a variety of topics related to collaborative and participatory research.

Series 2

The second series will take place in October-December 2023. The three events will focus on:


Series 1

The first series took place in late 2022. Following the events, participants wrote blog posts to cover the key points raised. These were published on the NCRM website. The themes of the three webinars were:


Current organisers

Dr Emma Wincup

Dr Emma Wincup

Emma is qualitative insight manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), a social change organisation working to solve poverty. She is based in the recently-created Insight and Analysis Infrastructure team tasked with producing powerful and impactful resources and insights that can significantly contribute to solving UK poverty. Emma specialises in qualitative and participatory research on poverty and destitution. Prior to joining JRF in 2019, Emma was a university academic for over 20 years researching and teaching criminology and social policy. She continues to hold an honorary academic post, Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology at the University of Birmingham.


Dr Hayley Trowbridge

Dr Hayley Trowbridge

Hayley is a facilitator and researcher who works with communities across the UK and Europe to explore, learn and create social change. She specialises in working with people and their lived experience to dismantle hierarchies and find more equitable ways of working, often with the use of creative technologies entwined. Her work spans research, civil society and public services. Hayley is currently the CEO of People's Voice Media and Research Fellow at SPARC, Cardiff University.




Dr Niamh O’Brien

Dr Niamh O’Brien

Niamh is an Associate Professor of Social Inclusion and Young People at Anglia Ruskin University, whose expertise is in undertaking participatory approaches to research involving young people. Working in research since 2004 and receiving her doctorate in 2016, her interests are in bullying and enabling young people to have a voice in areas, which interest and/or affect them. Niamh has also conducted participatory research studies with care-experienced young people, including exploring their experiences of support during the lockdowns. Niamh holds an Honorary Research Fellowship at the National Anti-Bullying Centre, Dublin City University. Niamh is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bullying, which meets at Westminster in an attempt to tackle and understand the consequences of school bullying in the UK. She is a premier member of the International Bullying Prevention Association.


Dr Lenka Janik-Blaskova

Dr Lenka Janik-Blaskova

Lenka teaches psychology and research methods. Lenka promotes participatory approaches to research enquiries into the peer relationships and wellbeing of children and young people.







Dr Ali Hanbury

Dr Ali Hanbury

Ali is NCRM’s Senior Engagement Manager and her role is to work with social researchers in areas of methodological innovation. Having launched the MSIGs in October 2021, Ali is leading on the development of these groups, aiming to create a forum where shared discussion, supportive networks and dissemination of methodological insight occur. Ali has extensive cross-sector experience in working with strategic stakeholders, as well as young people and communities. She gained a PhD in Sociology (Centre for Gender and Women's Studies) from Lancaster University in 2016.



Jo Ferrie

Jo Ferrie

Jo Ferrie is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow. She is Deputy Director – Training of the Scottish Graduate School for Social Sciences and founding Director of the Glasgow Q-Step Centre. Her research focuses on teaching and learning of research methods and human rights frameworks. Jo has published on teaching skills underpinning emotionally demanding fieldwork, fostering skills valued by industry, working with co-production and participatory approaches and impacting on policy.




Dr Kathryn A. Burnett

Dr Kathryn A. Burnett

Kathryn is Senior Lecturer in the Division of Arts and Media, University of the West of Scotland, teaching across inter-disciplinary undergraduate and master’s programmes in creative arts practice, music and media. With a background in social anthropology, sociology and cultural studies, Kathryn’s research interests include the mediatisation and representation of remote and island spaces; identity, ecologies and place narratives of Scotland’s rural communities, coasts and islands; cultural work, precarity and creative enterprise; Scottish cultural heritage and arts contexts including Gaelic and Scots for applied creative practice; sustainable communities, resilience, development, entrepreneurship, cultural policy and the commons in small island, remote, peripheral and rural contexts. Kathryn is Co-Director of the Scottish Centre for Island Studies, an interdisciplinary and international network for island studies and islandness with particular reference to collaborative research working for Scotland's cultural, social and economic contexts, policy and potential.


Alison Harvey

Alison Harvey

Alison has been employed by the University of Cambridge for more than 20 years in a range of senior management posts, particularly focusing on research facilitation, training and professional development. In Alison’s current role, she is the professional lead for doctoral training in the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences. As well as delivering and sourcing training, Alison works within an advisory capacity relating to policy and management of doctoral student experience. She has an integral role in the ESRC-funded doctoral training partnership that sits within the school and she oversees continuous evaluation and monitoring of doctoral training requirements, as well as working in a consultative position both within the school and often wider in the university.


Laura Shobiye

Laura Shobiye

Laura Shobiye is a doctoral researcher in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, where she explores the learning experiences of mothers seeking sanctuary in Wales. She is carrying out a longitudinal qualitative study with a voluntary sector collaborative partner, Oasis Cardiff. Her work involves interviews and participatory creative methods for thematic and narrative analysis and is primarily informed by critical race theory and intersectional feminism through a social justice lens. Laura was one of the co-founders of the Migration, Ethnicity, Race and Diversity Research Group, co-convening the group from its launch in December 2019 to July 2021.



Akua Quao

Akua Quao

Akua is a Senior lecturer in Public Health at the University of Central Lancashire. She has over 20 years’ experience of working in professional roles using training, copywriting and broadcasting skills to manage media and training projects. For example, for Burson Marstellar, Department for Work and Pensions, RBE Associates, Royal Society for Public Health and GlaxoSmithKline. Akua has been responsible for the curriculum design and taught on accredited Health Trainer and Health Champions programmes for local authorities, NHS trusts and Premier League football clubs in London. She worked as a senior radio producer on health programmes, broadcast on commercial radio stations in the South East, and syndicated programmes across university student radio stations. Akua has co-authored award-winning health promotion material with the Terrence Higgins Trust. Akua’s research interests include the use of media as a health promotion resource and health literacy.


Olimpia Mosteanu

Olimpia Mosteanu

With a PhD in sociology and over a decade of experience in the third sector and academia, Olimpia is passionate about urban health, evidence-based policy and creative place-based research methodologies. She is currently working as a programme lead (research) at Social Life in London, UK. Her research is located at the intersection of the fields of the built environment, health and wellbeing. In her work as an educator, Olimpia has mentored and advised on community-based participatory research, socially engaged practice and collaborative design.




Di Levine

Di Levine

I began my career as a primary school teacher and was then in civil service for over a decade before completing my PhD. As a result, I have been – and continue to be – committed to social change and addressing social inequalities through co-conceived learning and research. My research is focused on understanding the ways in which children and adolescents survive and thrive when life is challenging, particularly in a digital world, and in relation to addressing child abuse, neglect, maltreatment and child protection. I align myself with the Africa(n)-aligned/Africa(n)-centred research movement as most of my research is located in and carried out with Africans who are vastly under-represented in most literatures on childhood and adolescence.


Julia Hayes

Julia Hayes

Julia is an educational psychologist and international consultant in inclusive education whose previous roles include being a teacher and children’s participation coordinator for Barnardo’s. She gained ESRC funding for her PhD at the University of Cambridge to research the education of children with disabilities in Colombian Escuela Nueva schools. Additionally, Julia illustrates conferences, live. Using her illustration skills in her research and work with children with disabilities, she specialises in visual participatory methods. Following her graduation, she now travels around the world delivering training for adults on inclusive approaches towards education and participation.



Kirsty Pattrick

Kirsty Pattrick

Kirsty is Research Manager at the Mass Observation Archive and is responsible for overseeing and developing the current Mass Observation Project. This is a source of contemporary qualitative longitudinal narrative data. The material is generated in collaboration with a national panel of volunteers, capturing everyday life in Britain, their thoughts, opinions and experiences. She supports projects across both Mass Observation phases (1937-1950s and 1981-today), generating new material, increasing its use amongst academic and non-academic communities, collaborating with partners and building its profile for learning, teaching and research. She teaches students in HE across different disciplines, introducing them to archives and developing their research skills using this unique collection.


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David Shallcross

David is the Impact and Evidence Manager at the Connection at St. Martin’s, a homelessness charity based in central London. In this role David is responsible for monitoring, evaluation, learning and research. One aspect of this is trying to promote co-production so that people who access our services are at the heart of service design, delivery and evaluation as well as decision-making more generally. Prior to working at the Connection, David worked in public health, particularly HIV and maternal health. During this period he undertook qualitative research and action research with patient groups. David is currently a member of the Strategic Advisory Network for the Economic and Social Research Council, where he has been primarily advising on evaluation.


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Ellen Taylor-Bower

Ellen is a PhD student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge. Their research explores autistic overwhelm/overload, with a particular focus on the lived experiences of autistic adults. This research combines quantitative and qualitative methods to develop a better understanding of psychological and physiological experiences of overwhelm. A more comprehensive understanding of this phenomenon would enable the development of more tailored therapeutic support to help autistic individuals manage overwhelming experiences in their daily lives. Using participatory and collaborative methods, including working closely with a dedicated Research Advisory Group, Ellen aims to demonstrate how autistic-led autism research can benefit both academic research and clinical practice, as well as helping to rebuild trust with autistic communities.


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Tallulah Eyres

Tallulah is a part-time Researcher at the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), with a background in developing evidence-based solutions to social and economic issues. Alongside her role at CLES, she is pursuing a PhD in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on empowering local government and citizens to have economic and political agency. Tallulah is passionate about effecting meaningful change and promoting a new approach to government and governance based on civil society, social action, and participatory democracy.