Charlotte talks about the value of coproduction in relation to enabling young children to take up reading, as an early career researcher Charlotte clearly articulates the value of coproduction and how this not only adds value to research projects but is key to her own work and the outcomes to people. 

right? Yeah. I want to introduce yourself. Yeah, great. So I'm my name is Charlotte

I'm a second year PhD student at the University of Edinburgh. Um, and I'm working on a project which is broadly sort of trying to understand young people's experience is with reading books. Um, and the project is participatory in design

So we've got a panel of young people who sort of came on board with the project right at the start, and they've been helping to design it. Um, and we're at the stage now where they've been helping with the data collection. Um, and then hopefully going on, they're going to help with the analysis and then the sort of what comes next

So that's sort of my connection to co production, I suppose. And how I found out about the coproduction collective Brilliant. Sounds really interesting

So, um, tell me about this approach. What's different or what difference do you think this approach has made? I think because the aim of the project was really to understand young people's experiences with reading books and specifically to find out why, when Children come into adolescence, they feel less motivated to read than they did when they were younger, and I really felt like there was no way we could really understand it properly without talking to them and getting them properly involved in the research. Because the way the way that a lot of research and education, at least from each sort of university perspective seems to happen is there's a lot of data collection

There's a lot of, like tests and questionnaires that get filled in, but no one seems to really like talk to the young people, Um, and so it was really keen to help to have them sort of shape the project to a large extent so that it was designed in a way that was going to actually be relevant to them. Um, and I think it's been so fantastic for the way the projects come together is because the young people, they just they have so many fantastic ideas, and they just see things from a slightly different perspective. Um, and even, you know, I like to think I'm quite young, but I'm not 13 or 14 years old

You know, I don't know what's going on in their lives at the moment, and I think to have them involved the whole way through is just really unique, particularly in academia, where often you are. The only interaction you have with your participants is when you collect data from them. It's quite unusual to involve people the whole way through

So I think that is really, really novel and just so, so useful. Thank you. So I'm wondering about and I think you started to talk about this

So your own behaviours and perceptions so working in the co produce way, have your own perceptions and behaviours changed as a result of that? Yeah, definitely. I think at the start I really felt like I was. That may be the young people on the panel would need a lot more support or guidance from me than they actually do need

I think at the start I was very concerned about sort of having a real sort of structure for them to follow. And I felt really nervous when I didn't really know what to ask them or sort of how meetings were going to go, because I felt like I needed it to be very controlled to sort of guide them through it. But actually, the more meetings we had together

And the more we work together, the more I realised. Actually, they oftentimes like they could lead much better than I could and direct the conversation. And they came up with some, like some ideas that I wouldn't have thought of for the project

Um, so for example, we sort of decided all together that we wanted to interview other young people to get their perspectives, And I'd sort of assume that, you know, I would do the interview because I'm the researcher and they said, Oh, actually, can we do some of the interviews? Because we think, you know, people would want to talk to us more or their their answers might be more authentic if they're talking to other students. And that's, you know, I hadn't even considered that angle of students interviewing each other. So yeah, that's something that really, you know, changed the whole course of the project essentially, and I think the data will be richer for it, and the outcomes would be more relevant because of that

It's a really nice example, and it's led me onto thinking about sort of the impact of working in this way and what impact that has on sort of you as a researcher, the research itself and organisations and society generally like. Do you think it has an impact on any of face? Well, I think for me personally, I can't see another way I would ever want to do research. Now, um, it would just seem so, um I don't know

It wouldn't feel like I was doing a project justice or doing the sort of people you want to help or work with. Doesn't feel like you'd be doing them justice if you weren't including them all the way through. So for me personally, I can't see another way of doing research, and I feel like I've become much more of an advocate for that kind of method

Um, and it's really nice to see some other people, at least within my circles within academia sort doing similar things. Um, but I think it's still it's new, I think, at least within sort of my field and education. Um, it's sort of starting to gain some traction, but I think we're not fully there yet, So I would love it if there was more co production, not only in sort of educational research

But you know, in other areas as well, because I do think it's really important to involve involve people in the research or the work that you're doing. That's about them. I sort of can't see how you could produce anything meaningful without doing that

Um, so, yeah, I think it could have really important implications for policy and research in all these areas where people may be feel shut out or they're just their perspectives are listened to. If we could incorporate coproduction in more aspects of research and society, I just think it would be fantastic. Have there been any challenges? Some challenges? I think for me, the main challenge has been that I've just never done co production work before

So I First of all, I didn't really know what to expect. Um, and I think I I've got better. But I'm sort of person that likes to control a lot of things

And I think with co production, you have to be so open and flexible because you almost you know, it's a positive that you don't know what you're going to get out of it because you want it to be this kind of iterative process. But for me, that was a challenge, especially at the start, to sort of let go a little bit of my control and say, Actually, it doesn't matter that I don't know what the next step is. We'll just see you know what? Everyone decides all together

Um, so that's certainly been a challenge, but a positive one, I think something that challenged me but changed me in a good way. Um, I think, yeah, there's I think there's also some challenges where, particularly working with young people or people that aren't part of the university. Is there certain, like bureaucratic things that I have to do, like apply for ethics and all these things that I want them to be involved with? But I don't want to bore them with, and I don't want them to feel overwhelmed with

So I think sort of managing the different institutions and expectations of different people and managing their different timings and workloads is always difficult. Um, but I think if you can make it work, Um, yeah, it's just like I said, I couldn't imagine another way of working. Really? Thank you

That's that really did make me think about sort of how we can all do more to make coproduction accessible. So I'm wondering about how it makes you personally feels like about the feelings. Is there What kind of feelings come up when you co produce? I think, I suppose I don't know

I feel proud in a way of working in this way because I think it is. It makes me feel like I'm doing really important and deep work and really, um, connecting with the group of people that I'm working with. Um, I also feel really proud of the young people of the relationship that we have and sort of Yeah, building that makes me It just makes you feel really warm and really, you know, to have those relationships

I think especially doing a PhD, which is can be quite an individual, like a solitary, um, pursuit. I suppose, building these really strong connections with people that I would just never have come into contact with, probably I wouldn't have built relationships with young people, always teachers in this way if it wasn't for working in this way. So, yeah, I really only have kind of positive feelings associated with it

I think? Do you have any top tips for, like people that are starting the journey with co production or how it might? What advice would you give? It's a good question, I think. I think probably to just start. I think I beginning

I mean, it was really good to sort of research and really think about what I was doing in terms of sort of how I wanted to approach people and you know, how I wanted to maybe pay them or reimburse them and to think, to think about all those things at the start. But I think to not over plan and to not sort of over expect what you're going to get out of it and ask you to just start to sort of open that dialogue with people. And I think I in retrospect, I would have liked to have brought the panel on board even earlier, before the idea for the project even really got going

So we thought we had the idea and then we thought, Let's make a panel to talk about this. It would have been great if we've got them involved even earlier and said, Oh, you know, actually what do you want us to research? Is this a question that you're interested in? So I think my advice would be to kind of get talking with people as early as possible so that you can start that coproduction approach kind of as early as possible and have people involved right from the very, very, very start. Mhm

What difference You think that that approach would make, I think because one thing that I sort of niggles me a little bit is that this research question, if you like, existed before any of the young people had any input on it. So I think one of my little niggling worries is Is this actually a question that's important for them? Um, so I think by co designing or co producing that question right at the start, you're much more likely to get something which is really relevant. Um, that you can build on

Um I do think that at least the young people who are on the panel, they do think it's important. Perhaps that's why they joined. Um, but yeah, I think it would be really interesting to sort of form a group of young people

Maybe he was just interested in researching and to say, Oh, actually, what is it that you want to research and let's make that happen? And what value would you say coproduction place within research? Uh, I think I guess a bit Like I said before, I think it can produce research which is so much more relevant to your sort of target audience. Sounds a bit, I don't know, a bit sanitised, but I think, yeah, producing research, which is really relevant, Um, and also kind of breaks down some of the barriers that I think exists between sort of research and practise or research in real life. I think quite often researchers can operating like a bit of a silo

And you sort of you design your project, you collect the data, you publish it in an article that's I don't know, behind a paywall, and it doesn't actually get to the people that would find it really interesting or really useful. So I think by co producing with people outside of academia, I think that is really valuable to be able to sort of bring that research to the general public and, I don't know, sort of deep privilege research in a certain way because I sort of think like we're not special. We just are in this job that is researching, and I think everyone should be able to have access to that regardless of credentials or affiliation or anything like that

Really? Thank you. So my last question is, what next review and co production? Good question. Um, yeah, it's difficult to say because like I said, this is my first experience with co production

And so I know that the the panel so far we've done the design together in the data collection. We're going to do the analysis together, and then we're gonna I don't know, decide what to do next with all the information that we have, and I don't know what that's going to look like. Um, but I suppose I just really want to keep working in this way and to sort of Yeah, I don't know

Yeah, Like I said, I can't imagine working in a different way. And I would like to do more projects that work in this way with maybe different groups of people or overlapping groups of people. Um, I think I would really like more people to be doing more co production

So anything that I can do to sort of promote it as a methodology, I suppose I would really like to do. Um and I think I would also like to be involved in coproduction. Sort of as a not as a participant, but sort of not someone leading a project

I'd like to be part of someone else's project to see what it's like on the other side. You know what I mean? Do you have anything else you wanted to add about co production? I don't think so. I think that's everything

I just think it's great. Okay, I'm gonna stop the recording there, if that's okay.


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