I first became in involved in embedded research when trying to recruit a researcher in residence with one of our North West Coast partner universities.
Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in appointing, despite three rounds of recruitment and a national search. As soon as we appointed a candidate, their employing university or council offered them more money to stay and carry on being a researcher in residence in their current location. This gave me an indication of how in demand their skills were.
Two thirds of the way into data collection from embedded research initiatives and there is much to reflect on. In my first blog I reflected on how we had been struck by the complexity of the various embedded initiative case study sites, and the challenges of designing (and refining) the methodology needed in response to capture these differences.
These reflections on the complexity of embedded work have only been reaffirmed as data collection has progressed over the past few months.
It’s been all go here at the St Andrew's branch of the Embedded project over the past few months. A flurry of activity early in the year included a webinar and co-production workshop. These focused on our work to identify the key features of embedded research initiatives.
Since then we’ve been working hard with designer and illustrator Chris Redford to produce an illustration of the ‘landscape’ of an embedded research initiative, and to create some practical resources that can be used to inform the design and implementation of embedded research initiatives.
The Embedded Research Project has been going for a while now and the case studies have been identified and data collection is in full swing. Over at the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) desk my colleagues and I have been grappling with the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) issue, which in reality does not appear to be a day to day issue for the vast majority of those researchers working in, on, or around embedded projects.
Indeed, I would say that my thoughts so far on PPI and Embedded Research is that it is either a non-issue or one that is not very high up on the ‘to do’ list. I am really hoping that this is not actually the case and maybe in the coming months exemplary examples of PPI will come flooding into Embedded Research Project Central.
The third stage (or work package) for the Embedded study involves undertaking in-depth qualitative research with four embedded initiatives to understand how these initiatives develop, to explore how relationships mature over time, to evidence the strategies that embedded researchers use, and to develop rich case studies of how they support the co-production of health research.
Over the next year, we will be visiting initiatives across the UK with differing project characteristics (including funding and affiliations) and speaking with embedded researchers and their colleagues to understand their backgrounds, motivations and evolving experiences of embedded researchers.
They say the more you know, the more uncertain you become, and I'm becoming very uncertain about how to set up an embedded research programme.
A few years ago it was all so easy. I found an NHS partner who wanted a pragmatic evaluation, a researcher who wanted to make a difference, and a bit of money. I then put them all together and if everything clicked then stuff happened. And that stuff was exciting enough for a few of us to want to write about it in scientific journals.
I recently took part in the Embedded Research co-design workshop that aimed at drawing on people's experiences of planning, managing, delivering embedded researcher initiatives. It brought together people from across the UK with experience of a range of embedded researcher initiatives. The key question we were asked to keep hold of throughout the workshop was: What do you wish you had known at the start of your embedded researcher work?
Here, I'll reflect on how I would now answer that question following on from the workshop.
During the recent webinar on an embedded researcher network, I listened to the speakers' experiences of embedded research with a mixture of anticipation and curiosity. Aware of the NIHR funded study that Vicky Ward is involved in, I was eager to hear details of what had emerged in the scoping review.
It was interesting to hear the criteria used to define embedded research: trained researchers, creating knowledge in a health setting for the benefit of the host and spending part of the working week in a health service.
I am rarely enticed by social movements that take place in a virtual space. I never succumbed to the Ice Bucket Challenge, I have yet to use #metoo (or any hashtags for that matter) and the title has to be absolutely irresistible to get me to click on a TED video link.
I simply don't get excited by the virtual in the same way that I do by the physical. However much I support and agree with these movements, I simply never find myself swept into them online as I do on the streets.
I have so far blamed this lukewarm online enthusiasm on my age. I'm too old for that stuff. And I would have continued in this vein had it not been for the Embedded Research project's webinar on creating an embedded researcher network.
As one of the four lay representatives for the Embedded Research project, I want to share some thoughts about some of the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) issues that are coming up in the initial part of the project.
We had a pretty good idea that Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) would not feature very much in the lives of embedded researchers and this proved to be the case from the literature researches and the preliminary data gathering.