By Dr Gary Hickey, Senior Public Involvement Manager, INVOLVE (a national advisory group that supports greater public involvement in the NHS)
Co-production is a term I increasingly see used to describe how people have gone about their research - often with little explanation of why the approach has differed from collaborating or consulting with members of the public. To me, it seemed to be just the vogue term for public involvement in research.
So it was with some trepidation that I agreed to lead an INVOLVE project seeking an answer to the question ‘what is co-produced research?’
From co-pro sceptic to advocate
The first stage of this project was a roundtable event which included public members, academics and National Institute for Health research staff. The event transformed me from being a sceptic of ‘co-produced research’ to a fervent advocate (and not just because I was in a minority of one!)
We looked at the principles that other organisations have produced, including SCIE, but we didn’t really feel that they worked properly for us in a research environment, so we decided to develop our own!
We decided that it would be too difficult to agree on a precise definition, which wouldn’t work for everyone anyway. And after all, we want to encourage innovation – not stifle it. So instead we agreed that we should identify some key principles of co-produced research. We hope that these principles will be used by both the research community and public as guidance for their own work and something to aspire to – then there is also opportunity for innovation in how the principles are met.
Research: improving and enhancing public involvement
The principles can be used to critique projects and to encourage suggestions on how project teams can go ‘further’ in their public involvement plans. In this way it can lead to the improvement and enhancement of public involvement in research. You can read about the round table event and emerging key principles in this pdf document.
The project itself continues. A literature review and interviews are currently being undertaken by Research Design Services in London and East of England. This will be followed by a workshop to further develop these principles on 25th May 2017. For further information do contact me at Gary.Hickey@nihr.ac.uk