Lessons Learned from Practitioner-Research

We have written a short briefing note which captures some of our on-going learning about practitioner-research. Its contents are based on evaluations from previous practitioner-research programmes: (1) Engaging with Involuntary Service Users in Social Work project carried out by The University of Edinburgh in 2010, and (2) Older People, User Involvement and Families and Relationships carried out by The University of Edinburgh in 2008.  These evaluation materials from these projects have been summarized by Catherine-Rose Stocks-Rankin, the research fellow on the PROP project.

The material in this brief is indebted to practitioners involved in those projects who gave thoughtful feedback on their experience with the practitioner-research programme.   For more information, please see the related publications and resources at the end of the document, particularly the article ‘A collaborative approach to defining the usefulness of impact’ by Heather Wilkinson, Michael Gallagher and Mark Smith.

Reflections on Practitioner-Research 1

At each training event, we will try to capture some of the immediate impressions of the training as well as practitioners’ thoughts on their research practice more broadly.  So far, this conversation has occurred through an informal round-robin where practitioners are given the opportunity to reflect on the challenges and opportunities – highs and lows – of the research.

Here are a selection of the comments from the first training event:

Our round-robin highlighted some of the anxieties about beginning a new research project. Concerns were raised about the size of the project and the time and effort required to do it – and do it well.  There was also some discussion about “just wanting to get started” even if it was “daunting”. And some questions about research access and ethical clearance to do research, i.e. “how to get to the first base”.

When discussion focused on specific research projects, there tended to be an interest in “finding the best tool for practice” or “the best way of supporting” older people and carers. Some of us wondered whether “we would get the answers” and others asked “what if they are answers people don’t want to hear”.

Overall, there was a sense that we’re “not alone” – that PROP is an open and honest space where we feel “we’re all in the same boat”. There was also some discussion about the importance of looking forward to the “end products” so that we can think about where we want to be when we finish and what we want to achieve.