We want to help enable and sustain partnerships in the area of widening participation research, policy and practice to help understand what effective practice looks like, reflect on challenges and inform better ways of working.
One way of doing this is to make the research process more accessible to students, Students’ Unions, and practitioners.
OFFA are leading an international project that seeks to improve evaluation by matching up practitioners with academic mentors. Sharing expertise and learning together to realise organisational and sector change is at the heart of BU’s programme of Fair Access Research.
Dr Clive Hunt: Associate Dean (Student Experience) and Dr. Vanessa Heaslip: Principal Academic in Adult Nursing
Research is a process of learning from existing knowledge to produce new ways of knowing that change behaviour or thinking in the world.
One way to establish and understand the knowledge base of the topic you are focusing on is to do a systematic review of literature.
Once you understand the existing knowledge base, you can develop, test and implement different ways of knowing about your particular topic.
Reflective practice is a central element to the research process. Reflecting on what you’re doing and critically examining the challenges and impact of your work means that you are more likely to produce findings that can be replicated in different settings.
Remember to share your work early and with different audiences to test ideas and help make your ideas have the widest reach possible.
Part of doing research effectively is to do it ethically.
Some core principles of ethical research include making sure that in your work you:
- Respect individuals’/group’s autonomy, differences and dignity
- Prevent harm or risk to yourself and others
- Ensure that participation is voluntary and consenting
- Research with integrity and transparency
- Work to empower yourself and others
- Maximise the benefit for individuals and society
- Ensure that there are clear lines of responsibility and accountability
Each university or college will have its own infrastructure for ethical research. If you want to know more check out these links:
There are a number of useful existing resources to help demystify and guide you through the research process.
Vitae have developed an engaging Researcher Development Framework that is structured to support the knowledge, behaviours and attributes of researchers, including how to ensure your research has impact.
University of Oxford use the Researcher Development Framework to structure their Research Skills Toolkit. This resource helps you develop IT skills for study, research and work.
Bournemouth University has developed a Research Toolkit to support researchers with all aspects of the research process – from funding application to publication.
Durham University have a Participatory Action Research Toolkit which could help if you are working in partnership to develop participatory research.
The Research Funding Toolkit provides accessible resources and insight to help researchers develop their funding and grant applications.
The British Education Research Association publish resources, including ethical guidelines and a research charter, to help guide the development of your research.
The Society for Research into Higher Education convene an Access and Widening Participation network that seeks to develop a reflexive space and supportive framework for all those working to widening participation to higher education. Each year a diverse series of events are run to enhance understanding in the field.
Evaluating the effectiveness of interventions is a really important area of widening participation research, policy and practice. There are number of resources to help with developing evaluation capabilities that could be useful.
OFFA have a large programme of work focusing on understanding effective evaluation of outreach interventions.
The HEA Evaluation Toolkit for practitioners provides useful tools and methods to develop and undertake evaluation for widening participation.
HEFCE, in partnership with Lancaster University, developed an evaluation capacity builder resource.
To help make your evaluation activity more rigorous and underpin it with appropriate theories, Alkin and Christie have produced an evaluation theory tree that makes theoretical insight more accessible.