There is increasing interest from policy-makers in sponsoring research that is in some way inclusive of the people that the policy affects, changing the dynamics between research producers, users and participants. The drive toward patient or service-user engagement in research spans many social, as well as health, domains, and has resulted in innovative models of working and alternative research methods. Building quality in inclusive, participatory and emancipatory research is the theme for this year’s NCRM Summer School (3 - 5 July, Southampton). The Summer School (or in recent years, Autumn School) provides an opportunity for early career researchers to develop knowledge and skills in methods, to network, and to do some thinking beyond their particular projects. Within the context of calls for greater democratisation of research, this year’s participants will be introduced to methods work such as participatory multimodal ethnographies and coffee shop conversations, and to debates around the interactions between power-sharing and quality in research. The backdrop will be a range of substantive areas including research with and by young children, marginalised youth, and adults with learning disabilities.
The summer school will be led by NCRM’s Professor Melanie Nind and Professor Ros Edwards. From Ros’ perspective, this summer school brings together methods that connect with her interest in transformative approaches. These methodologies provide radical challenges to traditional research practice, to advance alternative perspectives on knowledge generation for social justice. For example, Ros’ current UKRI International Networking NCRM project is an Indigenous and non-Indigenous researcher partnership that is developing resources to support collaborators in thinking about their methods, assumptions and behaviour, and to avoid reproducing colonial ideas and power imbalances. For Melanie, the event builds on her ESRC-funded study on Quality and capacity in inclusive research with people with learning disabilities, from which she has argued that we need to remain open to different ways of doing research inclusively and doing it well.
It is good to see several former NCRM colleagues and postgraduates who have run innovative emancipatory and participatory inclusive projects involved in the summer school. Melanie and Ros are also delighted that the event will be opened by a keynote from Professor Peter Beresford, who has a longstanding involvement in debates and action around patient and service-user involvement in policy, practice and research, particularly regarding social care and mental health.
Peter is especially interested in encouraging research which supports the equal involvement and advancement of citizens’ and service users’ diverse knowledges, and which challenges what has come to be called ‘epistemic injustice’ and ‘epistemic violence’. As interest in wider involvement in research matures, differences and in some cases conflicts between formalised ‘public patient involvement’ (PPI) and people’s efforts to develop more liberatory research approaches are becoming more evident. Tendencies to conflate the two are giving way to recognition of their potential ideological, methodological and philosophical differences, making it possible to approach such involvement in a more grounded way. Peter will draw particularly on his experience as a service-user researcher, involved in both user led and collaborative research projects, large and small. Peter hopes he can be helpful at the Summer School to the participating community interested in more inclusive and democratic research and research structures.
Submitted by Melanie Nind and Ros Edwards, National Centre for Research Methods, and Peter Beresford, University of Essex and Shaping Our Lives on Tuesday, 11th June 2019