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Connected Research Communities

An evolving handbook of what they are, how they are expected to work, their intended impact and the arrangements for governance.

Image from Canva.

Connected Research Communities is an umbrella term for a number of initiatives in ARC NWC created to engage and support Member Organisations and Public Advisors with their research and implementation ideas and projects. Current initiatives include: Research Development Networks (RDNs), Roundtables, Seldom Heard Voices Forum, the Dementia Network and the Community Research and Engagement Network (CoREN).
This handbook aims to give a consistent description of the various approaches to Connected Research Communities: their ‘essential ingredients’; the resources on offer to each group; their objectives; and the governance arrangements, such as how/who is to monitor progress.

Connected Research Communities, draws on the principles of social network theory, bringing together all the key stakeholders (professionals; public; academics) that need to work together to deliver an initiative, creating opportunities or spaces for those stakeholders to ‘discover’ and learn from each other and mobilise knowledge. By bringing together individuals that are connected to organisations or communities or special interest groups, we create bridges with the potential to bring and share ideas, information and solutions, ensuring that network for an initiative is engaged and enduring. CRCs differ from Communities of Practice with the inclusion of all stakeholders, not just those with direct relevance to practice.

The higher the density the more likely stakeholders are to organise themselves to support projects and initiatives: The more we bring the right people ‘in the room’ together to discuss how they can work together the better!
The term Connected Research Communities draws on the principles of social network theory. The idea is that not only do we know all the key stakeholders who need to work together to deliver an initiative, that we create opportunities for those stakeholders to get to know each other, to meet, share ideas, etc. Increasing the “network density” ensures that the CRC for an initiative is dense.

We believe these are not only Communities of Practice but the additional processes to ensure network density enhances working, relevance, buy in etc.

We support a number of initiatives that benefit from this ethos:
1) IMPaCT Roundtables where all key stakeholders share information, agree shared agenda, clarify roles and opportunities
2) Research Development Networks, which develop a collaboration around a particular research topic and include all topic specific and methodological experts, along with health and social care organisations, PPI groups. Whilst the RDNs work across all Themes, one Theme takes responsibility for administration and reporting. Each RDN is intended to bring together extensive collaborations including representatives from ARC non-members with an interest in the topic, to present and discuss research ideas, prioritise potential topics for grant applications, and oversee the work of the grant-development sub-groups.
3) Collaborative Implementation Groups (CIG). Used extensively throughout the CLAHRC NWC Partners’ Priority Programme where initiatives were grouped according to a common topic.

Find out more about connected research communities here.

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