Developing resources and guidance for sharing power when we co-produce research

19 October 2018

When we co-produce research, this means that researchers, healthcare staff and public contributors collaborate to develop research. Everyone works together in more equal partnerships and shares responsibility and power from the start to the end of a research project. This is a small project to help everyone work together in a more equal way in research.

Project aims

We invited public contributors, healthcare staff and researchers to share insights from their own experiences of co-produced research, at two workshops. Through these, we aim to develop and co-produce practical guidance with researchers, public contributors and healthcare staff, to help everyone work together and share power more effectively when co-producing health and social care research. This can sometimes be a challenge, as there are many inequalities that can affect this such as:

  • hierarchical inequalities in university and health systems
  • knowledge hierarchies where some types of evidence are favoured over others
  • social inequalities, which can be rooted in wider economic and societal inequalities.

Anticipated impacts

We will co-produce resources and guidance that help people reflect on how power and inequalities may affect co-production, to support more equal relations between people when we are co-producing research. We will also develop some reflective questions to enable us all to think about how our co-produced research can enable changes in practice and policy.


We held two workshops on 23 November and 5 December. We want to work with people who have co-produced research, to develop ideas for how everyone can challenge and change different inequalities in practice when co-producing research. Together we will then draft and pilot resources and guidance.

Our approach to the workshops was based on co-production principles, and they were co-facilitated by CLAHRC West, People in Health West of England and Gary Hickey from NIHR INVOLVE, who recently published guidance on how to co-produce research.

The team facilitating the workshops included:

  • Nick Leggett, a public contributor who co-leads a research project at NIHR CLAHRC West. Nick suggested the research topic for this research project.
  • Michelle Farr a Senior Research Associate at NIHR CLAHRC West whose doctoral work focused on power relations and co-production.
  • Rosie Davies is the public involvement lead at NIHR CLAHRC West with People in Health West of England. Rosie has worked on a service-user led project at Bristol Mind.
  • Gary Hickey from NIHR INVOLVE (the national advisory group on public involvement in research), who recently published guidance on how to co-produce research

In the first workshop we discussed what resources we could develop. Resources might mean time, having specific and practical techniques to use in a meeting, training for researchers and public contributors, case studies, and methods that disrupt power relations. What practical things can we do in a room? What can we do now, at this time? Ideas for resources included:

    • Handbook of techniques and guidance for researchers
    • Exercises to support power sharing
    • Having a bank of experts who have been involved in co-produced research
    • Having peer researcher buddies
  • Training
    • Researcher training including chairing and facilitation skills
    • Public contributor training
    • Managers getting training to understand how to facilitate and support research co-production
    • Students being trained so that it becomes part of research methods training

Quotes from our first workshop include:

“Very interesting and thought provoking”

“It dug below the lip-service to co-production. It encouraged and supported me in crystallising my thoughts”

“I thought that you did a great job of making it a space for everyone to share experiences as well as think more about how to support good co-production”

Please contact Michelle Farr, 0117 342 7279 and Rosie Davies 0117 342 1248 if you want to know more. We are hoping to offer other opportunities to take part in 2019.

Please help us create a resources and toolkit list

We are developing a list of co-production resources that help us think about power and equality in co-produced research. Please let us know of other material that helps people think through and act to change different power inequalities in co-produced research and we will add these to the list. We will continue to develop this page on the CLAHRC website.

About this project

This project is being developed in partnership with CLAHRC West and People in Health West of England. It is funded by the University of Bristol Public Engagement Seed Funding.