Co-Production Collective at UCL’s ‘Value of Co-production Research Project’ makes the case for co-production for individuals, organisations and for society.Read the reports
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People define co-production in different ways. For us at Co-Production Collective we talk about co-production as ‘an approach to working together in equal partnership and for equal benefit. ‘ This is something we are always aspiring for and is underpinned by our core values of being:
Valuing diversity of knowledge, experience and perspective. Building mutually beneficial relationships based on honesty and trust.
Removing barriers to participation and recognising people’s strengths and supporting their development.
Addressing power imbalances and hierarchies, sharing roles and responsibilities.
Continuous reflection, learning and improvement, embracing new ideas and ways of working.
The research aims to help people using it to overcome the following barriers to co-production:
We hope this resource helps a wide variety of people to be able to make the case for co-production. We have tried to provide multiple different ways to engage in the content so that you can absorb the information in whatever way works for you, including accessible formats which you can find in the reports section.
In this video Nicc and Isaac talk more about how the project came about, what was involved and why we have put it together in the way that we have.
From our research we found that if applied in the right context and given sufficient time and investment, co-production can have many benefits. This led us to the conclusion that value of co-production lies in:
*People told us as part of this research that they felt empowered by co-production
*People told us as part of this research that they felt empowered by co-production
Click on each of these key findings to find out more detail about what they mean for co-production.
Our findings show that co-production can be seen as a valid ‘method’ a way of doing research, policy or service development. But it can also be an intervention - an act designed to change or influence something - in its own right. This is not necessarily true of other ‘methods’.
The values at the heart of co-production - and the changes they bring about for all involved - distinguish it from other ‘methods’. In other words, the value of co-production is in both the journey and the destination. The value of co-production depends on the context in which co-production takes place, however. Co-production is not a fix all. It’s not always the most useful, relevant or productive approach for developing a piece of work or research.
Our findings are supported by a rigorous evidence base. Analysis across the board demonstrated consistent themes around the value of co-production, which been drawn out into our headline findings.
We analysed findings from:
573 surveys submitted from people with an even spread of roles associated with co-production activities.
There were high levels of engagement from the co-production community with a total of 9691 responses to the survey. This is a combination of all unique responses (comments) and vote counts (validation) of existing responses.
Questions had a range of up to 94 unique comments.
The themes drawn from this survey therefore have a strong grounding in the views and experiences of the coproduction community.
100 stories of co-production experiences shared using the Community Reporting method
The majority of the stories collected related to co-production in health and social care, with housing, local authorities, communities and education also featuring frequently.
Our diversity question was deliberately left open to avoid feelings of “labelling” or “being put in boxes” so respondents were asked to identify themselves in any way they chose. From what storytellers chose to share with us we managed to capture stories from diverse group of people.
Many of the stories were full of enthusiasm and joy. Almost every storyteller had something good to say about co-production, even if they had also had negative experiences to share.
Our rapid review found a general consensus that co-production is a positive approach for improving research projects and meeting their goals, plus outcomes for coproducers such as satisfaction and self-esteem.
9 pilot projects putting co-production into action reviewed
The evaluation of these pilot activities has informed our overall findings. Read the pilot projects full report.
View our findings in detail for each of these research methods here:
Accessible formats in Word, PDF, Audio, MP4, Braille, EPUB, MOBI are currently available for our interactive summary on this google drive. All overview pdf documents will soon be made available in these formats as well as an easy read version of the interactive summary.
After reviewing the evidence base, we have made a number of recommendations in relation to:
Please note these are not in any order of priority.
These recommendations come from our evidence base made up of the rapid critical review of the research and those by participants and members of the research team with practical experience of co-producing via our online survey, community reporting and pilot projects. We believe more research still needs to be done to understand and test these conditions. However, we have included them as a starting point as they came up in several strands of our research.
Each of these recommendations have implications for the commissioning, planning and funding, as well as how people work together to carry out co-produced projects. The implications of these recommendations will depend on the context. For example, university-based co-produced research and co-production of a social care service will happen within different systems, cultures and norms. This means that the steps needed to operationalise these recommendations in each context will be different.
These recommendations relate to what needs to happen within a wider context to enable co-production to flourish:
Co-production should be recognised as a complex methodology / way of approaching and carrying out a project. As an approach it can be complex and messy as barriers in society often mitigate against inclusion and power sharing. Therefore, it requires creativity and those involved to constantly challenge throughout the process. This needs to be planned, resourced, implemented and evaluated effectively.
The values and principles underlying co-production are the mechanisms by which change can be achieved and projects delivered.
For co-production to succeed, all co-producers need to challenge the existing status quo, hierarchies and culture in academia, policy and services.
A key finding from our Rapid Review was that:
“The low level of formal evaluation of the impacts of co-production (as opposed to the impacts of the research products) suggests a need to start measuring and evaluating the claims that are being made in research [and wider] on co-production”
We also know that co-production’s benefits are not easily measurable by existing methods often used for carrying out evaluations of work conducted. Many of these methods are currently unable to easily and fully capture the full impact of co-production on the people involved in the project. To address some of these findings and recommendations outlined as part of the Value of Co-production Research project, we are using funding received from Research England for Co-Production Collective at UCL. This intends to support those who co-produce projects to also co-produce evaluation design with the aim of developing an approach that is more suited to this kind of work.
The ‘Measuring Success in Co-production: Learning by Doing' Project will fund five to seven projects; each of which will receive £10,000-15,000. Our hope is to connect and support a range of people to develop projects across the themes of - mental health and wellbeing and/or climate change – involving researchers, community partners and co-producers with lived experience to work together, learn and capture what changes as a result of meaningful co-production.
You can find out more about this funding opportunity and how you can get involved by reading our blog. To keep up to date with this project and how to get involved sign up to our newsletter.
We would love to hear about how you are using this research and if there is anything else that you would find helpful from us in relation to this, or future research into co-production, as well as any feedback you have. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
UCL and Research England
For a full list of all involved see our Thank You page.