Research partnerships with the VCSE sector – NICVA and QUB hold their first joint Community Based Research Engagement Event

In February, NICVA and the Research and Enterprise Directorate at QUB hosted their first ever joint event on facilitating community based research as part of the Engaged Research Action Plan 2019-2021.

This event was held at the Crescent Arts Centre with approximately 50 attendees from academia and Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector (VCSE) organisations working in areas as diverse as housing, environment and health and social care.

Dr Helena Mc Elhinney, Research Officer at NICVA discussed the role of NICVA in facilitating research collaborations with the VCSE sector. Professor Paul Connolly, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at QUB introduced the Engaged Research Action Plan. Professor Budd Hall from the University of Victoria in Canada discussed his role as UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education.

Following the presentations, a networking session allowed attendees the opportunity to identify mutual research priorities and make practical suggestions for mutually beneficial research partnerships between voluntary organisations and academics.

Discussions identified barriers to collaboration, including a lack of awareness of potential existing partnerships and the need for capacity building in the voluntary sector, difficulties in finding collaborative partners and also the sharing of research ideas. Furthermore, the event highlighted the need for researchers to engage with the voluntary sector on several levels including engagement with umbrella organisations such as NICVA, issue specific organisations and communities and service users.

Several practical solutions were proposed, involving the mapping of existing collaborative research relationships, establishing a single point of contact to facilitate partnership between academics and voluntary organisations, and implementing a co-production approach to research and building capacity for engaged research between the voluntary sector, university and external partners.

Consequently, several action points were developed including:

  • Establishing points of contact at NICVA and QUB to facilitate research partnerships
  • Developing methods to match researchers with voluntary organisations who wish to collaborate on joint research topics
  • Organising a series of subject specific events for voluntary organisations and researchers
  • Exploring opportunities for capacity building

NICVA will be continuing discussions with Queen’s Research and Enterprise Directorate on how to develop stronger research collaborations between voluntary and community organisations and academic researcher.

If you are interested in future events and discussion to promote research collaborations, please contact:

Dr Helena Mc Elhinney
Research Officer (NICVA)

Email: [email protected]


The opinions, views or comments in this article do not necessarily reflect any views or policies of NICVA.

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