Researchers play a vital role in supporting and collaborating on the development and delivery of The Ideas Fund projects and learning.
For researchers currently involved, while there have been challenges, there is an overall sense that involvement within an Ideas Fund project has been very positive, taking people out of their comfort zones and providing very valuable new learning and relationships to take forward. Some researchers involved in current projects have said:
‘Has it been challenging? Oh yes! In the best possible way.’
‘I expected to be taken out of my comfort zone and this has happened more than once but, on each occasion, has been the most valuable learning, adding to my confidence in working with the community.’
- The Ideas Fund defines research as the careful, detailed and rigorous exploration or investigation of an idea or problem to create new knowledge or ways of doing things. The purpose of this funding is to explore what happens when communities and researchers work together. So, it is not a Fund to ‘do research’.
- The Ideas Fund defines a researcher as someone currently working in a university, the NHS or for a health charity or social enterprise, or they could be an independent expert. They will have a record of carrying out and publishing new research and be connected to the wider research world through their work.
The Ideas Fund is for you as a researcher if...
- You want to use your research skills, experiences, and interests to explore and exchange ideas with a community to reach their goals around health and wellbeing.
- You are up for trying something new and learning - you may not have any knowledge, experience, or confidence when it comes to working equitably with communities through your day-to-day role – but you’re interested in the idea.
- You are interested and want to work collaboratively with a new partner – even if you do not know what to expect.
- You are interested in how this collaboration could help to shape your future work and approach.
- You have time to commit to this – the process requires time to build relationships, plan, coordinate and work through innovative approaches, opportunities, and challenges with The Ideas Fund programme and with your partner. This can be remunerated through the project funding, but we know that dedicated time for the relationship to grow is a commitment to be sure about from the start.
Researcher involvement in The Ideas Fund is about:
- The Ideas Fund approach is about creating meaningful relationships for the longer term. It is not about a short term, one-off engagement that is transactional or service focused – e.g., a workshop, only evaluation, or supplying consultancy support.
- A partnership approach with the community partner holding the grant and leading project management. We don’t expect the role of researcher to be leading the project.
- The purpose is to explore what happens when communities and researchers work together. So, it is not intended that those involved from the community would be research participants or where this is purely an evaluation of an existing project.
What might researcher involvement look like?
- If the above criteria sound suitable to the way you do – or would like to - approach working with a community partner, then we are really open to hearing lots of different ideas and approaches to researcher involvement. All of our current funded projects are varied in scope and approach. You can read some examples here.
What challenges have researchers involved with The Ideas Fund experienced?
We gained a lot of rich learning and insight from the monitoring reports received in early 2022 from the Round one projects. Please see the blog for an overview of the learning. While it was generally very positive, some of the challenges for researchers were:
- Processes like research ethics and agreeing contracts with Universities have been a real challenge for some projects, though we’ve seen some creative responses to this such as the creation of internal ethics steering groups.
- Community groups and researchers have both felt the benefit of taking some time to get to know each other and plan their project – or have reflected that it might have been better to spend a bit more time doing this! They would also have found it useful to establish a bit more clarity on their different roles from the start. We hope the adaptations made to the process this year will support the time and clarity needed at the start.
Expression of Interest 2022 – the process and what to expect
Rather than a full application, we are now taking Expressions of Interest (EOI) from both community groups and researchers who are interested in the process of working in partnership and developing the project together.
- The EOI asks for base line information about you, your motivations for putting in an EOI, areas you’re interested in and how you feel about working with a partner. You can find a word version copy of the Researcher EOI questions here. When you’re ready you can apply via this link. Note that the original deadline of 8 June has been extended for Researchers.
- The community groups who are shortlisted will be able to access all the expressions of interest submitted by researchers, and then select who they would like to be put into contact with to develop their idea. We will contact you if this is the case and set up a meeting where you can share ideas and start to build a relationship. We think it’s unlikely that every researcher will be matched through this process. If you’re not, we will still explore ways to share your details with other applicants to the Fund so that partnerships could be developed outside of The Ideas Fund process.
- We know from our learning that once matched, having time, space and support in the process for each partner to get to know each other, build trust and develop an idea, is important. We call this the ‘incubator’ or development phase and it is supported by the local Development Coordinators for each area. A grant of £3,000 is awarded to the community group for the development phase.
If you are matched, we expect that the researcher’s time can be remunerated from the £3,000 grant. Once ready, the community group and researcher in partnership will have the opportunity to apply for a larger grant to run the project. This will be led by the community group who will continue to hold the grant and lead the project.
- If you’d like to discuss any of the above, especially if you’re not sure if you’re a ‘fit’ with the Fund, we encourage you to set up a call with us via firstname.lastname@example.org, or through your local Development Coordinator here.