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Measuring Success in Co-Production: Learning by Doing - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

September 7, 2023


This web page contains three sections each answering questions on the following subjects:

  1. Background information and general questions
  2. Key areas we will be looking at in the applications
  3. Our partners co-producing this programme

We will update this page regularly as more questions come in so, please do check back from time to time.

If you are using a laptop or desktop computer, you can search the questions on this webpage by holding down the Ctrl button and then pressing the letter “F” key on your keyboard. This will bring up a box so that you can type in one or two keywords of the things you are looking for.

1. Background information and general questions

The development of this programme is supported by a co-production team, including members of our community, The Academy of Medical Sciences, UCL Grand Challenges team, UCL Evaluation Exchange and our community partner, Compost London. Have a read of our blog for further background information. Read more about the team in Section 3.

Q1. Who will benefit from the Measuring Success programme?

Our primary focus for the projects we fund is establishing favourable conditions for co-production to flourish. We aim to evaluate, share, and learn about promising practices throughout the process. There will be plenty of opportunities to network and connect with people and learn a little about the value of co-production and evaluation as a result of being part of the process.

We hope there will be many benefits of this programme, including for those who do not receive funding:

  • Foundations based on relationships: connecting and building new strong relationships.
  • Realising the difference: developing ideas and understanding the potential mutual benefits that working together with a group of people on the application may have.
  • Staying connected and informed: of this project through newsletters and blogs from Co-Production Collective

Further commitment and benefits for funded projects include:

  • Deepening practice and coaching on co-production and evaluation during the project work to help you find the right approach to evaluate your project.
  • Sharing learning across all funded projects to enhance knowledge exchange and extend the experience.
  • Being part of something bigger - contributing your learning to build an evaluation tool or approach (perhaps a framework) for co-production that others can use.

Q2. Who can apply for funding/be part of a team?

The programme is open to anyone with an interest in the priorities outlined in the General Funding Application Information which is available as a Word document or PDF. Eligibility details are also outlined in that document.

All levels of experience in co-production are welcome but you will need to demonstrate your willingness to apply the principles, incorporate evaluation and commit to be part of the broader programme to share learning around these areas.

You do need to have a collaborative team (this programme and process prior to application is designed to help you connect, build those relationships and your team). Your team could include community members, people with lived experience, voluntary or charitable organisations, healthcare workers and/or researchers. However, you must include appropriate recognition for patient/public/community involvement in the co-production of the project (e.g. expenses reimbursement, payment for time etc.) Read the National Institute for Health and Care Research Payment Guidelines and Co-Production Collective Co-producer Payment policy to find out more.

Q3. What if I have a great idea but I don’t have a team/I’m not part of a team yet?

You might already have connections, have established relationships, and have project ideas in mind. Alternatively, you may need assistance in networking to establish new collaborations.

We have teamed with our external partners, including The Evaluation Exchange, UCL Grand Challenges, Compost London, and The Academy of Medical Sciences, and co-producers with diverse expertise and lived/living experiences. Together, we have developed an application process to enable your involvement in this project, no matter where you are in your thought or connection process.

Following our Information and Taster Session on 12 September 2023, we will send out an Expression of Interest Form. This does not form part of the formal application process. We will ask some questions to explore what support people need, how we can help connect people, and how we can best tailor the next part of our programme – our interactive Networking/Connection & Development Workshop on 17 October. For this session we will be using a different digital platform called Remo so you can move around the digital environment and meet potential partners for collaboration on a project idea in either mental health and wellbeing and/or climate change. We will provide more information on this.

Q4. Is there a way of pitching our ideas to gain the interest of potential partners? Will a network be created to connect with people attending sessions with similar interests?

In the session on 17 October, we hope you will be able to do this. We are also considering how to develop the networking during our application and funding processes, using a collaboration tool such as Slack. In the meantime, you can freely connect with people you meet at the launch or networking events. Additionally, you can sign up for the Co-Production newsletter to get updates on upcoming networking opportunities.

Q5. What if I/we can’t make the application events – can I/we still apply?

Yes! We hope there is something that everyone can benefit from in this programme, even if you don’t wish to put an application in. It may just spark some valuable ideas and connections!! Also, if you can't attend the application event you are still eligible to apply. Following the application events, recordings and materials will be available to access.

Q6. What type of help is available throughout this programme?

Although we will provide training and support to help people learn and collaborate in the co-production process for the funded projects, this is also a great networking opportunity for everyone involved in this pre-application part of the programme. We aim to foster an environment of learning and mutual support.

We are keen to ensure our practices, and those projects we fund are equitable. Therefore, we are happy to work together to find solutions that support individual and group needs to build capabilities and enable wider inclusion. Also, please feel free to get in touch to discuss individual requirements.

Q7. Is there support for language challenged groups who don’t have the word mastery for your application forms?

Yes, please get in touch with our team at if you require any support with the application process. We really do want to make this process as accessible as possible.

Q8. What if I’m not ready to be involved in a project?

If you have ideas of your own, would like to be involved in Co-Production Collective rather than this project, or have larger projects that you are interested in partnering with us or one of the partners in this initiative, we would love to hear from you too!

Please email to find out more. We also share regular newsletter updates via email (you can sign up via our website), blogs, webinars and other events. Also, please feel free to pass on this information to anyone that you think will be interested.

Even if you may not apply for funding, you are still welcome to attend any of our events and we hope you will gain something from being part of the process and share any feedback with us.

Q9. Can we apply for the funding if we were involved in a previous round of Co-Production Collective pilot projects?

Yes you can, but you will need to disclose this and demonstrate that this application is for a discrete project which is significantly different, and adds value to your first project.

Q10. What should the writing style for this application be?  Is it more of a business plan/case or an academic writing style (i.e. highly referenced etc)? Which is most appropriate?

The writing style does not need to be written and evidenced to an academic standard. However, the project should clearly state objectives and be supported by some theory or evidence to aid the project's direction.  We feel the applications have to “explore a question”. Your application needs to clearly state how you will do this. The applications will be reviewed by a diverse group of reviewers. We therefore encourage ideas to be communicated clearly and simply throughout the proposal. Please refer to the guidance in the Appendix Table in the Application template and respond to the questions. This also provides advice on what we are looking for. We are not expecting a highly referenced document.

Q11. Can projects that may already have started or are part of other work apply?

Projects need to be initiated, carried out and evaluated during the current programme timeframe (see programme and planning timeline). The purpose of this project is that the evaluation happens throughout the journey of co-producing a project together and documenting the process and learning together. They should not already have funding that should include evaluation and reimbursement for co-production (or PPIE) activities.

The above answer also relates to the following questions:

  • Can this project evaluate co-produced work/approaches that have already happened or should it be on live work?
  • Can we evaluate projects we have already been working on/funded by other means but have not been evaluated yet?
  • Is it possible to link this to an upcoming NIHR funded study?

Q.12 Is there a cap on the size or type of organisation that may apply?

Organisations of any size or type are welcome to apply. The funded projects can be wide ranging or specific. As long as they are achievable within the timeframe and aligned to our core values and principles.

Q13. Is the funding only for not-for-profits? Also, as a team, we are already specialists in carrying our evaluations, does this mean we are not eligible for this funding?

All organisations are welcome. The project would need to align with the evaluation criteria set out, but learning from each other’s expertise is welcome alongside this ‘learning by doing together’. The most important thing is that the evaluation is co-produced by all members of the team who may not all be “specialists”. The purpose of this project is that the evaluation happens throughout the journey of co-producing a project together and documenting the process and learning together. We are intending to capture the journey across the full project.

Q14. Can I apply for funding if I am not based in the UK? Can a project financially based in the UK but working in practice in low-income countries be eligible?

Projects can collaborate globally, as long as there is a host organisation based in the UK who can distribute the funds.

Q15. What if my application is unsuccessful?

There is a chance that your application may not succeed at this time. However, we hope that being involved in the taster, networking and application processes will be a valuable experience for all involved and could give you the skills needed for future applications to be successful. 

By signing up for the Collective newsletter, you can keep updated on future opportunities and connect with others.

2. Key areas we will be looking at in the applications

The following questions have been organised as they relate to the Application Form  which is available as a Word document or PDF. Additional information and specific guidance is provided in that document. Potential areas for clarification are included here.

A. Clear plan describing how you will carry out the project and meet overall scope and priorities for the programme

Q16. What are your aims and priorities for the programme?

The Measuring Success in Co-production: Learning by Doing Programme & Funding is designed to support co-production and evaluation (measuring the benefits) of projects which focus on the themes of mental health and wellbeing and/or climate change.

Our focus, and that of the projects we fund as part of this piece of work, will be on creating good conditions for co-production, and on learning more about how to evaluate, share and learn about good practice along the way. Recommendations from The Value of Co-production suggest that evaluation is enhanced when co-produced projects:

  • Are effectively resourced
  • Not only consider outcomes, but also how all team members are affected during their journeys.

Our priorities are outlined in detail in the General Funding Application Information which is available as a Word document or PDF.

Q17. How will you determine if our project meets your priorities?

Your aims and objectives should clearly show how your project relates to the themes of mental health, wellbeing and/or climate change. We will score your project as to how closely it meets all four priorities in the General Funding Application Information which is available as a Word document or PDF. Please also see the guidance in the Application Form which is available as a Word document or PDF.

The project can cover a wide range of factors within these themes, be as small or broad as you desire, as long as it is achievable within the timeframe and in line with our core values and principles. Any ideas are welcome. As long as your idea and application relates to either mental health/wellbeing or climate change, and meets our other criteria, it will be considered.

This answer and the other documents listed above, also answers the following questions:

  • Does wellbeing only cover the psychological side, or does it also include material things like improving the quality of healthcare, making it more accessible, etc?
  • Is there a specific definition/context to the theme of mental health and wellbeing?
  • Could a project focus on wellbeing in the absence of Mental Health ill-health?
  • Do you include co-production of engineered products in the collective /this call?

Q18. Who/what should benefit from our project?

Your project could have a range of beneficiaries. However, given that projects should be born out of (or explore) service, community or societal needs you need to at least include some team members with lived experience that is meaningful to the focus of your project. You are asked in the Application Form (Word document or PDF) to outline who and what you think the benefits may be which should help you start to think about what you may wish to evaluate in this programme.

Q19. Does it have to be a research project?  Is this to shape a research project or could it be for a service improvement?

Your project can be any type of co-produced participatory project. For example, it could be more about methods of engagement – how to engage with those less often included in mental health, wellbeing or climate change research. The most important things are that the project is co-produced and everyone commits to evaluating the impact of working together.  For example, a  project could target service improvement as long as there is a commitment to evaluation and measuring impact, and is realistic within the timeframe.

Q20. Will observational studies that potentially lead to mental health guideline changes be eligible for this co-production, if we involve patients and researchers throughout the study design process?

Different methods can be applied to each project and as long as it is achievable within the timeframe and in line with our core values and principles would be considered. Co-producing a project from the start, working in equal partnership for equal benefit, is different from “involving” patient and researchers.

Q21. What do you expect us to show regarding our project plan?

We would like to see a month-by-month breakdown of how you will carry out the proposed activities in your project. These will clearly show who is involved when and how realistic your plans are. You should identify markers or milestones for progress and/or outcomes. You should state any assumptions you have made, discuss any risks and potential mitigations (for example, if you have not yet connected with a specific group). If this relates to another project, we would like to know if there are any limitations that may affect this project. Such as timelines, sharing of data or communication embargoes.

Q22. Will I need ethical approval for my project?

Co-Production Collective have recently researched and co-produced some guidance around ethics and co-production which may be helpful for you, and ethics committees you are connected with, to help decide whether approval is needed for your specific project.  

B. Addressing the principles of co-production

Q23. What do we mean by the term co-production?

For us, co-production is an approach to working together in equal partnership and for equal benefit. Putting this approach into practice means living by our core values (as outlined in Q19 below) and applying them to all aspects of our work.

For co-production to exist there needs to be at least two or more people (‘co’); however, it can often involve a wide range of other stakeholders. We will be assessing applications against the principles of co-production and equality, equity, diversity and inclusion. As long as the project fulfils these, and is achievable within the timeframe, all partnerships are welcome.

Q24. What are the values and principles of co-production that underpin our way of working?

These are the principles of co-production that we apply in Co-Production Collective.

  • Accessibility, inclusion and transparency
  • Building and maintaining relationships
  • Shared decision making, understanding and addressing unequal power dynamics
  • Respecting and enabling ALL knowledge, skills and experiences
  • Value and benefits for all (multiple impacts)

Our core values are central to everything we do. This is how we feel they relate to the principles of co-production and underpin our way of working:

Being human

  • Valuing diversity of knowledge, experience and perspective
  • Building mutually beneficial relationships based on honesty and trust

Being inclusive

  • Removing barriers to participation
  • Recognising people’s strengths and supporting their development

Being transparent

  • Addressing power imbalances and hierarchies
  • Sharing roles and responsibilities

Being challenging

  • Continuous reflection, learning and improvement
  • Embracing new ideas and ways of working

Q25.  What if we are considering an application but are unsure if it is co-production? Can we still get involved?

Yes. We welcome applications from those using a wide variety of collaborative methods as long as you are an inclusive team that embraces the principles of co-production that the community aims to live by (see Q6). You can also receive some support and direction on this through attending the pre-application sessions in the programme.

Q26. What coaching, guidance and support will we receive during the project?

At Co-Production Collective, we value accessibility and equity. We strive to prioritise and accommodate various needs to ensure maximum inclusion in all our work. Thus, we aim to champion these principles, work to our values, and build capabilities accordingly. We would like to see commitment from you towards building capabilities and equitable practices in co-production through your application. Should you be successful in receiving funding, we will support and work alongside you to facilitate co-production in your research project and act as a learning partner to help you evaluate the co-production experience and build in these practices. In addition to the Deepening Practice sessions detailed below, this may include monthly meetings, review milestones and general project support.

C. Commitment to evaluation, sharing knowledge and learning

Q27. What do you mean by ‘value’ and ‘evaluation’?

The Value of Co-production work taught us that evaluation should be complemented with practices focussed on relationships, that are effectively resourced and co-produced. These approaches should consider project outcomes and how all team members are affected throughout their journeys.

Along with this ethos driving our passion for developing this programme, we seek to build in plenty of reflective practice as we evaluate ourselves and our ways of producing, supporting and forging outputs in what we believe may benefit long-lasting outcomes.

We understand that there are diverse levels and forms of evaluation, but support evaluation that is:

  • Critical - providing evidence of what works well and not so well;
  • Reflective - encouraging reflection and adaptation over time to improve;
  • Collaborative - involving a range of people and different perspectives;
  • Relevant and appropriate - there is no one-size-fits-all approach to evaluation. Every coproduction activity is different, and the evaluation requirements vary depending on the project and the purpose of the evaluation;
  • Proportionate - in relation to the specific activities.

Q28. What will the Deepening Practice and Sharing & Learning sessions involve?

The Evaluation Exchange and Co-Production Collective will provide the necessary support and coaching to guide you through workshops exploring your needs and interests, different approaches you could take and project-specific mentoring support as you test out ways of working. You will be ‘learning-by-doing’. We will not be evaluating the projects themselves, but coaching you as teams and individuals in your projects to embed evaluation into your project work, based on your own needs, capacity and interests. Rather than develop or promote one specific evaluation method we will bring together the cohort of projects, different knowledge and expertise to question what constitutes an evaluation and co-produce bespoke, useful solutions that work for the projects. These sessions may include evaluation planning, developing a theory of change, evaluation methods, analysis and adaptation, insight sharing and mapping.

Q29.What else will be expected of our team for this part of the programme?

We expect a commitment from each participant in the programme to being involved in the co-production of learning and reflection in their projects (i.e. they’re not delivered by one person alone) and a commitment to recognising and valuing that everyone has a contribution to make in this aspect of their project.

Additionally, we also expect a commitment from everyone to the activities involved around sharing learning from the experience so that it can inform the future guidance/framework that aims to support evaluation in co-production.

We plan to offer the following sessions:

1 in-person full-day session (2-3 team members)

5 online half-day sessions (2-3 team members)

1 in-person celebratory event (all team members)

Each team needs to identify two or three people, ideally represent each collaborating partner (including those with lived experience), who will consistently attend these sessions and liaise with other team members so learning is shared. If there are issues around accessibility relating to these sessions please let us know so we can support your needs.

Q30. What will the evaluation programme involve so we can resource and budget for this?

We anticipate one full day in-person and three half day online Deepening Practice Sessions and an in-person celebratory event. Representatives of each collaborating Partner (for each project) are expected to attend the Evaluation and Co-production Deepening Practice Sessions, and shared learning sessions. We would like all team members to attend the final celebratory event.

Q31. Has a location or venue been decided for the in-person parts of the programme?

No venue has been discussed for an in-person meet at this stage. Wherever possible we will aim to make these events as accessible as possible, and there may be extra support available in the form or financial assistance to get to the venue etc. for this.

Q32. Evaluation can be complex for some ‘seldom included’ communities – how flexible can this part of the programme be so as not to exacerbate trauma and difficulties engaging?

The evaluation tools aren't fixed. The point of this project is to co produce evaluation in a way that is acceptable to all members of the team and is sensitive to the particular context of the project. The evaluation exchange is there to support the process, and can look at accessibility in these cases.

D. A plan to make a difference from this project
Q33. What sort of outcomes and impacts (benefits for all) will you be hoping for?

If you have connected and/or worked already with your co-producers you may have an idea of what your outcomes and impact may be. However, we recognise this is more difficult with co-production and projects that are forming new collaborations. In the Application guidance table (see the Appendix, at the end of the Application Form which is available as a Word document or PDF), we have asked ‘Who do you anticipate will be the beneficiaries of this project? Briefly, how do you hope they will benefit?’ This is where we would like to know what you think the impacts will be.

E. Project costs and resource allocation

Q34. Can I apply for pilot funding as an individual?

We welcome all interested individuals, including those with no project ideas or connections to research or community organisations, and regardless of whether you have lived experience as co-producers. We understand that some people may feel discouraged from attending events or programmes like these if they lack experience, so we want to assure everyone that they are welcome to join, and support can be tailored to your needs. Unfortunately, we cannot fund individuals as payments need to go through the organisation associated with the project. However, the co-production team working on the development of this Co-Production Collective project are keen to support a range of individuals to be involved in this journey. Our aim is to connect you with others so that you can become integral co-producer team members.

Q35. How will payments be made to community organisations?

We appreciate needs are different for different organisations, we can be flexible to make payments in a limited number of instalments. Compost London have worked extensively with local community and research organisations and will be able to expertly guide you through this process.

Q36. How can we budget for the evaluation aspects before we have started our project?

You should allow some budget for any costs you might need related to evaluation activities and dissemination during the programme, such as reimbursement for people with lived experience, purchasing digital tools and/or involving suppliers. Examples could include, Padlet or online whiteboard costs such as MIRO or Mural, storytelling, interviewing, video support or editing, graphic artists, etc. We would expect at least 5% of your budget to be dedicated to evaluation, and given the programme’s focus on learning, it may be more.

You should also include any attendance expenses for the programme’s ‘deepening practice’ and ‘sharing and learning’ sessions (expected to total 4 half days and 1 whole day). For more information on the schedule of events, see our blog detailing the how, what, and when of applying for funding and the programme.

We recommend that you allow a 10% contingency within your total budget to allow for changes due to the co-production process.

• Costs outside of your total budget that we would also like to know:

The majority of deepening practice and sharing and learning sessions will be on-line. However, we are exploring if one of the sessions could be in person. This is dependent on our central budget. To help us make this decision we would like some more information from you. You will need to cover the time attending the sessions from your total budget. However, we are exploring if we can cover travel and accommodation to arrange the session in-person. In your budget form please include extra lines outside of your total budget indicating the travel and accommodation costs for 2 people from your project team to attend the training, plus any other costs involved in an in-person event (e.g. personal assistant or accessibility services).

Additionally, to help us plan the central budget for the final celebration / project reporting event in October, we would like you to include the estimated travel, accommodation and other related costs for this too. Again, outside of your total budget. Time attending the event should be included in your total budget.

We would like to know whether the in-person sessions would be easier for you in Birmingham or London. Please share the estimated costs based on the location easiest for you and indicate your preferred location next to the cost information in your budget form.

For more information on the schedule of events, see our blog detailing the how, what, and when of applying for funding and the programme.

Q37. When does the money have to be accounted for?

The award needs to be transferred by end June but project ending by September 2024.

Q38. Are there any other requirements of funding?

We would like you to provide a brief report (1500 words) including your experience around evaluation that will feed into our report on the shared learning from the project. We will provide a template for this.

You will also be required to mention this programme of funding ‘Measuring Success in Co-Production: Learning by Doing in any dissemination outputs.

Any peer-review publications should be made publicly available. Costs for publications cannot be included in this funding.

3. Our partners co-producing this programme

Q39. What is Co-Production Collective?

We are a community of people interested in co-production. Whatever our identity and experience, we work together in equal partnership to create better outcomes for everyone. We support co-production in research, policy, and practice, in the health context and beyond. We also co-produce the Co-Production Collective itself!

Our vision is a world where diverse knowledge and experience is recognised and valued in the co-production of research - and beyond. We are a co-production community where everyone is welcome. Together, we learn, connect and champion co-production to create lasting change.

Q40. What is The Evaluation Exchange?

The Evaluation Exchange brings together voluntary and community sector groups wanting to improve their capacity to evaluate their work, with postgraduate students and researchers who want to put their research and evaluation skills into practice in a real-life setting.

We work in different ways with different people depending on their needs. At the heart of everything we do is supporting organisations, students and researchers to work together, to break down barriers to accessing different evidence and build evaluation and research skills that work in the real world.

The Evaluation Exchange is a collaboration between UCL and Compost London.

Q41. What is Compost London?

We are a team of community development professionals who have been working in east London’s Voluntary and Community Sector for many years. We came together around a shared concern about the diminishing infrastructure support for the Voluntary and Community Sector, across London. Recognising the important role this plays in maintaining a robust and thriving voluntary sector we decided to map out a menu of services that we believe will be of most use to a range of organisations. We helped to set up The Evaluation Exchange and have been part of its delivery team since it began.

Q42. What is The Academy of Medical Sciences?

We are the independent, expert voice of biomedical and health research in the UK. The Academy’s vision is good health for all supported by the best research and evidence. Our mission is to help create an open and progressive research sector to improve the health of people everywhere. We do this by working with our Fellowship of the most influential scientists in the UK and worldwide, our community of emerging and established research leaders, and our networks of public, patient and carer representatives.

We are committed to meaningful involvement of patients and the public across all our activities and in the way we work. This work recognises that expertise and excellence come in many forms and that better decisions are made when patients and the public are involved from the start, in all areas and at all levels of decision-making.

Q43. What is UCL Grand Challenges?

We were established 15 years ago as an initiative to stimulate and support researchers to come together from different disciplines and find solutions to complex problems.

Our strategy and priorities are centred around collaborations at local, national, and global levels and with the aim of helping to address the most challenging issues of our time. The themes for our priorities change each year aligning broadly with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Mental health and wellbeing, and climate cut across many of the Grand Challenge themes, and many match the values of co-production supporting access and participation in research and addressing inequalities.

If you have further questions please contact us via email on

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