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Table 2 Themes related to stakeholders’ experiences of research activities

From: A systems approach to the exploration of research activity and relationships within a local authority

Key themes Examples of challenges and facilitators
Research activities
 Limited awareness and knowledge of what others are doing Challenges are associated with being a large organization that fulfils many functions
Duplication of efforts and missed opportunities for greater efficiency
Fluidity of roles across different departments
Communication is important to help people know what questions to ask, how to find answers and who to ask
 Limitations in resources Limited financial, analytical and time resources
No specific people managing research
Lack of resilience and fragile staff teams
 Alignment of research with long-term strategy Importance of applied research that will develop and improve service is recognized
Challenges of knowing how outputs will be used
Limitations in the capacity to align research to longer-term strategic needs
Longitudinal studies are difficult within an applied context, and traditionally not done
The balance between time spent now for better working in the future needs to be improved
Research relationships
 Openness to collaborating with external partners Range of projects with internal and external partners
Good relations with universities, particularly local ones and those with relevant expertise
Existing and new networks, e.g. health and care partnerships, data analytic networks, local practice networks
Partnering with external companies and consultants is a newer way of working and needs developing
Challenges in working with dispersed groups and timelines for feedback
Benefits of access to research expertise, tools, external funds and improved capacity to do research
 Collaboration, networks and knowledge-sharing Based on relationships built over time, informal, personal connections
New links remain based on existing relationships where there is trust
Networks may not be accessible to all staff (e.g. mainly limited to directors of teams)
Balance between naturally forming relationships and putting a structure on that (potential resistance)
Trade-offs between collaborative approaches and time spent learning on the job doesn’t always favour networks of learning
 Suggested developments Development of a knowledge hub
Engagement of staff with responsibility for liaison and facilitating research
Framework for collaborations and capacity-building, training element, working across departments and opening minds
Moving from informal connections to systemized and enduring partnerships