It takes advance preparation to help people from different perspectives work together effectively. Our goal is to help researchers, clinicians, people with communication disabilities, and their family members/friends be prepared to work together to plan and conduct research.
When researchers work together with the people who will be affected by the research, the research changes. Perhaps some parts of the research process will be different, or maybe all of the research process.
For example, the research question itself could come from researchers who know about existing science. Other times, researchers and people being affected by the research may talk together and discover a different, important topic that needs to be studied.
People who are affected by the research can work with researchers to choose measures that matter to other people, not just other researchers. People with communication disabilities and their family members/friends can play an important role in making sure that the research process, the consent process, and the reporting of research are understandable to others.
It takes effort…
Sitting down at the table together means we have to know a few things in advance.
- We need to understand what we can each contribute.
Researchers know how to do research, and people who aren’t researchers probably don’t. But those non-researchers who are living with a situation have much more information about what will change their situation than researchers likely do. Both perspectives need to come together with respect for what the others have to offer.
- We have to plan in advance for communication techniques. Using effective communication techniques takes time and energy. We have to plan for success.
- Acknowledge the investment in time. Working with others who come from a different background will require extra time. In our experience, it’s realistic to allow 25-50% more time for the initial meetings and work. That investment pays off, though, when the outcome is more relevant, meaningful, and usable research output.
Check out our training pathway and tools to help your team start preparing for a successful collaboration.