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A book with a pair of glasses on them, c. Dariusz Sankows, Unsplash

Our Co-produced Book Review Is Here!

June 22, 2021

Hi everyone. We are Clare, Dawn and Sudhir, and together with Niccola we wanted to challenge the status quo of how book reviews are ‘usually’ done. That’s why we’ve facilitated the co-production of a book review about co-production!

COVID-19 and Co-production in Health and Social Care Research, Policy and Practice Volume 1 and Volume 2 explores the urgent need to put co-production and participatory approaches at the heart of responses to the pandemic and demonstrates how policymakers, health and social care practitioners, patients, service users, carers and public contributors can make this happen.

The book launched at a special panel event on 22 June - you can watch it back here.  

Why a co-produced book review?

There were a number of factors motivating us to take on this project. Firstly and most importantly, Co-Production Collective’s vision is a world where diverse knowledge and experience is recognised and valued. However, this isn’t always the case in the academic publishing industry, where exclusionary language and practices still operate – it’s one of the areas where we’re trying to influence change.

In line with that, co-producing a review about this specific book, which focuses on the urgency created by the pandemic to ‘do things differently’, seemed like an obvious way both to challenge the system and further demonstrate how co-production can add value. We knew the editorial team were keen to embrace this challenge and have tried to do so with the book itself, although it is still an academic text. Given this, it feels hugely important to ensure that the book is accessible to anyone who wants to read it, we thought a co-produced review might provide a bridge for potential readers who may not otherwise feel that the book is for them.

We were already working with Oli William’s (one of the book’s editors) as part of his Dissecting Health Research Group, challenging him in key areas of his work, so it made sense to join forces and reach out to our co-production community to make this happen!*

Co-production in practice

By co-producing the book review, we’ve been able to bring together a diverse collection of voices, perspectives and experiences from people from all walks of life. Over 30 people have been involved, with a different reviewer for each chapter in both volumes. Recruited from the Co-Production Collective community and beyond, we’re very grateful to everyone who put themselves forward for this opportunity and provided such a wealth of insight on co-production in practice. Thank you!

We hope that this co-produced book review not only provides a new angle on book reviewing, but that it also adds to the value of COVID-19 and Co-production in Health and Social Care Research, Policy and Practice itself.

Read the review!

Each chapter in Volume 1 and Volume 2 of COVID-19 and Co-production in Health and Social Care Research, Policy and Practice has its own review so you are welcome to dip in and out, using the links in the contents page to choose which review you’d like to read.

It also doesn’t matter whether you’ve read the whole book or the chapter itself. If you haven’t, maybe the review will encourage you to give it a go, and if you have, then you get to experience again through someone else’s eyes – maybe you’ll see things differently.  

You can access both volumes of the review here:

Volume 1 of the co-produced review

Volume 2 of the co-produced review

For screen-readers or if you prefer a text-only version, please use these documents:

Volume 1 of the co-produced review - text only

Volume 2 of the co-produced review - text only

We hope you like it! Please let us know what you think on Twitter or by getting in touch:

Reflections from the team

Below are some reflections from the organising team.

A photo of the team members - Clare, Dawn, Niccola and Sudhir.
Clare (top left), Dawn (top right), Niccola (bottom left), Sudhir (bottom right)

In honesty, the thought of finding 30 reviewers was a little overwhelming at first but we put the word out and the people answered! You can read more about that process here. Clare reflects that:

When we were first asked whether we wanted to co-produce a book review I had visions of twenty-five people all sat around one keyboard trying to agree on every word we wrote! But, as with most co-production projects I've been involved with, we got creative and came up with a way of including as many perspective sand voices as we possibly could without the writing becoming watered down by compromise. It was great to acknowledge that co-production doesn't mean all agreeing with every point - the value is in the diversity of experience and opinion.

We wanted to have each chapter reviewed by someone with as close to a personal experience of the subject that we could but were really keen that no-one should be put off through lack of experience or confidence in reviewing books. As such, we hopefully gave clear guidance without leading the reviewers to write in a particular way.

In Dawn’s words, it’s been a very “21st century style” experience of co-production in action, meeting on Zoom and recruiting reviewers via Twitter and email newsletter! As a team, we’ve tried out best to meaningfully co-produce the whole project, from the conceptual stages right down to the details of formatting, payment of contributors and devising a fair selection process when we were oversubscribed with people keen to write reviews.

We’re very proud to have been involved in what, we think(!), may be the first co-produced book review and gives a really interesting spin on the standard, often relatively academic, approach to reviewing literature.


*A note on independence

A number of reviewers, including Co-Production Collective, are also the authors of chapters in COVID-19 and Co-production in Health and Social Care Research, Policy and Practice. Many others(including the editorial team) are part of the Co-Production Collective community. Although this obviously influenced our motivation and ability to co-ordinate this review, it has had no bearing on the contents. We advertised the event via Twitter and our email newsletter, no experience was required to apply to be a reviewer, and all reviewers were chosen using random selection. Every reviewer was assigned a chapter separate to their own, and Co-Production Collective did not issue any guidance around what reviews should contain, other than the four questions each reviewer answered and some stylistic advice.

The purpose of this review is both to celebrate that a book about co-production exists, and champion its message, but also to challenge where it could do better – a fundamental part of co-production and our core values.

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