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Your chance to dissect health research! When is co-production not co-production?

By Niccola, on 16 May 2020

This blog it brought to you by Niccola from UCL Centre for Co-production. Read on to find out more about this opportunity to get involved in exploring co-production in depth

Hi everyone,

Hope you are doing ok during these different times? It was lovely to see, and chat to, so many of you online for our first virtual Co-production Network session on 12 May – 91 people joined the session in total, amazing! So so much learning emerged and a lot of connections were made! This brings me to another connection made recently…

First though…

I have some questions for you:

  • Are you someone who has, because you have lived experience, been part of patient public involvement work, co-produced health research or a co-produced project? (If you’ve been involved in the Centre co-creation work or Pilot projects then the answer is yes!)
  • Would you be up for reading a few short academic health research papers and a comic strip about co-production?
  • Are you up for sharing your thoughts openly and honestly?
  • Did you answer yes to all these things? Great! Then you might be interested in this opportunity…

Meet Oli Williams, a researcher funded by THIS Institute. THIS Institute is based at Cambridge University and works directly with NHS patients and staff, as well as academics and the public, to produce evidence to support work to improve healthcare, and health systems in England.

Photo shows Oli holding a painting, making a funny face and surrounded by books and wine glasses!

What is this opportunity all about?

Oli has been funded to conduct a study of different definitions used to define co-production and the different practices used to co-produce. He’s trying to find out what works well, and in what situations, when co-producing. Oli approached the Centre as he is keen to learn from us and what we are trying to achieve. He’s particularly interested in what we think helps bring the theory of co-production to life and what hinders it. And, crucially, Oli is committed to our Principles to live by.

Oli wants you to be involved in his research study, starting by dissecting a paper he has written with lots of other people interested in and doing co-production. By dissecting we mean read, ask questions about, and share what you do and don’t agree with. The paper, Lost in the Shadows, explores what co-production is, and what is needed if we want more health research to be co-produced. There is a comic strip that illustrates the findings really well or if you use Twitter you can also read more about his work in this story thread. Lost in the Shadows is a response to an article written last year (that you may have seen/heard about) called The Dark side of Co-production.

Personally I really struggle with reading academic papers (so many words and so much jargon!) if you feel the same, that is totally fine. These papers are shorter than usual academic papers (which is nice!) and one of the points of this opportunity is to think about how to make ‘open access’ papers more accessible, e.g. by changing the way they tend to be written and communicated!

This is a paid opportunity (in line with INVOLVE guidelines of £150 for a whole day and £75 for half) and not just a one off. The idea is to form a small group (of 4 people) to do this work with Oli. Depending upon the group and how much you want to be involved, there is scope to increase your involvement over the 2 year period within which he has to complete this project. One of the things Oli would like to do in this time is to co-produce resources to help organisations and individuals do more and better co-production. If that is something you would like to do, then do not miss this opportunity!

What do I need to commit to?

The current ask is outlined below, although this is flexible, should the group wish to change the amount of involvement they have:

For the first meeting:

  • To meet up (most likely via Zoom to allow for social distancing) on Tuesday 16 June, 11:00 – 15:00 (with a proper lunch break!) to discuss the two short journal articles and the comic strip (mentioned above) about co-producing health research. You will be paid for two half days work because this will involve spending time before the get together to read the articles/comic and make notes (if you would like any of the documents shared in a different format please just ask). I don’t know what you think but this sounds like loads of fun to me! A chance to get your red pen out and activate your inner teacher! 🙂
  • To be part of writing a team blog for the Centre about the team thoughts on the article/comic and the plans for this work with Oli

Longer term commitment

  • The plan is for this to be the first of up to 4 get-togethers with Oli over the next two years. He wants to work with you at key points of his project. This could be to discuss things like his research findings, what he should do with them, or to design resources to help other people co-produce health research. The important thing is that he wants to collaborate with you and make decisions together.

Please note: due to the current lockdown as a result of coronavirus it is unclear whether face to face sessions will be possible, or if people will want to meet up in person. If the group decides (once lockdown has been lifted) that they would like to meet face to face, and are all able to, then the sessions will take place in a location suitable for the group.

A photo from our last co-creation session – a table covered in Lego, and a Play-Doh Lego sculpture of a question mark and squiggly lines pointing outwards that says – “Radiating Questions”.

Photo shows a table covered in Lego, and a Play-Doh Lego sculpture of a question mark and squiggly lines pointing outwards that says – “Radiating Questions”.

What is in it for me?

  • Up to 4 days paid work
  • Travel costs paid for (if it is a face to face meeting)
  • Lunch! (if it is a face to face meeting)
  • A chance to dissect work on co-production and share your open and honest thoughts – Oli wants to hear it all!
  • A chance to work closely with Oli and the other people in the group, and get to know people who share your passion for co-production
  • A chance to co-create resources that will help to promote more and better co-produced research

How do I get involved?

If you are keen to get involved please email the following to Rory on coproduction@ucl.ac.uk by the end of the day on Friday 29 May 2020 at the latest:

  • Your name
  • The best way to contact you (email, phone, or something else)
  • Any co-production you have been involved in to date and why you want to be involved in this project (a paragraph or 2 is fine)
  • Whether you can make Tuesday 16 June 11:00 – 15:00 (with a lunch break)
  • Any dietary requirements

Please also let us know:

  • If there is anything we can help you with in relation to accessibility (for example you can submit your interest via phone, video or Whatsapp voice message if it is easier for you, or we can send you all of this info in the mail. Just let us know what would help)

If there are a lot of people who want to get involved then we will draw the 4 people who will make up the group out of a hat (with measures taken to ensure diversity) on Monday 1 June 2020.

Looking forward to hearing from you!


(Blog content edited – 20/05/20)

5 Responses to “Your chance to dissect health research! When is co-production not co-production?”

  • 1
    Aidan Ward wrote on 18 May 2020:

    I was on a patient panel in Cambridge to look at maintaining weight loss. It became clear to me rather quickly that the researchers needed to exclude my experience of being on a keto diet because of dogma from PHE. I questioned the researchers about any work that was being done that was capable of challenging the dogma but never got a reply beyond being told I needed to follow proper scientists.
    Happy to assist your project but don’t want to get caught up again in such a waste of time.

  • 2
    ucjunhu wrote on 19 May 2020:

    Hi Aidan. Thank you very much for your note. This is absolutely the type of practice that we as a Centre want to change. It would be great to get you involved in the Centre development work and or this piece of work. I will email you. Thank you for your openness!

  • 3
    Carol Munt wrote on 20 May 2020:

    As a patient leader I was I was part of the team who carried out a two year project at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford.
    The aim was to see how frontline staff make sense of or contest patient experience data, what supports or hinders them in making patient-centred improvements and what motivates staff – and patients and families – to get involved in improvement work.
    Although we were involved at every step I think we could have been more active in the work. There seems to be a reluctance by some academics to engage fully with those ‘outside the circle’.

    final report to the funder was accepted for publication in the NIHR journals library.

  • 4
    Sylvia Bailey wrote on 20 May 2020:

    I am a co-researcher with Aston University relating to multi-morbidity, polypharmacy which I think is almost complete.
    Happy to share this experience with you so will be emailing you with details of suitability related to the above described project.

    Sylvia Bailey

  • 5
    ucjunhu wrote on 20 May 2020:

    Great thanks Sylvia, we look forward to hearing from you!

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