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Supporting collaborative research

Supporting collaborative research

If you work for a funder, higher education institution or an organisation supporting research, how can you best support research collaborations to achieve their potential?

Here we share what we learned about how to foster equitable and impactful research collaborations.

Rising Arts Agency and Kings College London – This Is The Work. Photo: Olumide Osinoiki

We hope to encourage funders, higher education and organisations to find more ways to support impactful, equitable research collaborations between cultural practitioners and academics. Bringing together their respective knowledge and expertise leads to better policy and practice and benefits everyone, including audiences and local communities.

The large number of applications to our Collaborate fund shows that there is a real demand for rigorous research across the cultural sector. Research funders and higher education institutions can tap into this by supporting similar programmes.

To gain detailed insights about the processes involved in supporting impactful research collaborations, read our case study How funders can support impactful research collaborations.

Compass Live Arts: 1000 Handshakes by Sarah Caputo & Brenda Unwin. Photo: Lizzie Coombes

Our learning

  • Remove barriers and support the readiness of smaller cultural organisations and individual practitioners to participate in research partnerships with academics.
  • Reflect on what it looks like in practice to bring people around the table as equals and build this into your support.
  • Consider how you can best support partnerships with brokering, mentoring, and facilitation.
  • Think about how to build empathy and care into the programme’s design, and create space to reflect on the quality of the collaboration as well as monitoring progress.
  • Value all the ways learning can happen and recognise that it often emerges within collaboration processes, not just in the final research outputs. Allow time for reflection and embrace the possibilities of emergent enquiry.
  • Adopt a greater acceptance of risk and give partners permission to experiment and fail. Learning from what doesn’t work, generates invaluable insights.
  • Support methodological innovation. By creating space for open discussion of research approaches, there’s greater potential for new and creative methodologies to emerge.

Collaborative research between cultural practitioners and academics is a slower process than other forms of research and takes a shift in thinking. But done well, it reaps big rewards.

By supporting the development of meaningful research collaborations, you’ll help generate evidence-based insights that can inform decision-making and policy and build a more sustainable cultural sector for the future.

Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum. Photo: Irish Linen Centre


Sharing learning: How funders can support impactful research collaborations

Research collaborations are messy and challenging – here’s why we need them more than ever

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