Background: Research codesign is generally defined as end-users’ involvement in planning, implementation, and evaluation of projects. Recently, there has been a growing interest in codesign to maximise research acceptability, applicability, and impact and to address longstanding issues around power and depth of involvement. Frameworks have been developed to assist in understanding research codesign processes at a project level. However, little is known about how university based researchers construct or adopt a coherent approach to sustain research codesign in governance, methodological approaches, and practice. This study investigated the perspectives of researchers within a newly formed research institute about principles and practices of research codesign in the context of their previous and current projects. We also investigated their perceptions of institution-level enablers and barriers to codesign. University based researchers are our primary focus here and we intend to consult other stakeholders in future work.
Methods: Using an interview guide informed by exploratory work and a scoping review of the literature, we conducted 15 individual interviews with Caring Futures Institute (CFI) leaders and researchers at different career stages working across multiple areas of health, care, and social research. Qualitative thematic analysis was conducted.
Results: The researchers we interviewed were involved in projects ranging from large nationally funded projects to small studies funded by the university or PhD projects. Research codesign activities were generally part of larger researcher-led projects but there were a few examples of community-led projects. There was agreement amongst participants on the principles and perceived benefits of research codesign such as partnership, co-learning, and power sharing. Less agreement was found regarding the definition of research codesign and best terminology to be used. Themes reflecting the success of research codesign included pre-existing community relationships, communication skills, knowledge, and training on codesign, balancing power relationships, use of external facilitators, and adequacy of funding, time, and resources.
Conclusions: The study reaffirmed the complexity of research codesign from researchers’ perspectives and identified areas of potential action that may be beneficial for university based research institutions in building codesign skills, capacity and culture for example training, peer learning and funding support. Implications for practice improvement centre on a dual strategy of building practical capacity in researchers and integrating institutional dimensions (such as governance and leadership) into codesign frameworks. This can help to ensure research codesign is integrated into organisational culture and through the work of individual researchers.
- Capacity building
- Research codesign
- Research end-user
- Research impact
- Research institute