Guidelines for collaborative research

To the extent that limited resources permit, the SSRG has as one of it’s aims participation in collaborate research projects. This may require SSRG to fulfil a number of roles in respect of different projects, and may include collaboration with local authority social services departments, health authorities, institutions of higher education, or other public or voluntary sector agencies.

Collaborate research projects are an ideal opportunity for SSRG to promote it’s equal opportunities policy and promote positive action initiatives. Prior to collaboration with other agencies these agencies should confirm that they are prepared to work within the framework of the SSRG equal opportunities policy.

By their nature, collaborative projects involve complex arrangements in respect of planning and carrying out the research, and of utilising the findings. These guidelines have been drawn up to assist the NEC and Regional Committees when it considers, and is engaged in, collaborative research projects. They are designed to cover a range of general, and more predictable, aspects of SSRG involvement and are not intended to apply to all circumstances arising in every particular case.

1. Collaborative Research likely to Attract SSRG Support

1.1 All project briefs, contracts and proposals should be prepared in accordance with SSRG’s Equal Opportunities Policy.

1.2 Where a more comprehensive picture, or a comparative perspective of social services issues or problems is desirable/useful. As a national association, SSRG is ideally placed to promote research which goes beyond local boundaries e.g. the Ethnic Monitoring project.

1.3 Research which is likely to be supported by, or be of interest to, Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) and Association of Directors of Social Work (ADSW), and which the SSRG also believes to be important.

1.4 Whilst all collaborative projects should demonstrate that due consideration has been given to equal opportunities, SSRG may wish on occasions to promote positive action research initiatives which look specifically at issues/concerns expressed by minority or other groups, particularly where it is recognised that this is a neglected area of work. This research must not in any way become marginalised either in it’s planning, organisation or implementation stages.

2. Guiding Principles for SSRG Support

2.1 Regardless of who is bearing the cost, SSRG would expect any project to be realistically costed. Where staff-time is required, SSRG members involved must distinguish between any costs they incur as members, from costs incurred by their local authority, or employing agency. Identifiable costs may include fees or honoraria, travel expenses, production costs. The equal opportunities implications for costs of publicity, production and dissemination should be considered.

2.2 Where NEC members or appointed other persons are to be actively involved, as researchers, in a project, there should be an early agreement concerning possible future access for them to the original data.

2.3 Ownership of primary data and final product should be agreed and recorded.

2.4 Insofar as it is possible, SSRG members, who act both as liaison person for the NEC and as active researcher, should try to separate out their two roles and areas of responsibility. Whilst being interested in the latter, NEC will expect regular, formal feedback only in respect of the former.

2.5 In addition to the usual expectation that the research findings will be disseminated, by means of published articles, books, seminars, training packs, etc., the NEC will also expect researchers to adhere to the convention of adequately acknowledging, in their outputs, the support received from SSRG. On occasion, where individual SSRG members have made a substantial contribution to the research, a more fulsome acknowledgement would be expected. In the dissemination of the findings, oral or written, SSRG should ensure that information is presented in an accessible and easily understandable manner.

2.6 Consideration should be given at an early stage to intended outcomes. In cases where SSRG is the major (or sole) provider of funds, the NEC may wish to negotiate:

  • (i) a proportion of the income/profit earned;
  • (ii) a reduced rate for SSRG members for any publications;
  • (iii) free copies/attendance at workshops etc.,for SSRG members actively involved in the project;
  • (iv) possible other concessions for all SSRG members;
  • (v) publication rights for the SSRG journal.

2.7 The NEC should be notified of any subsequent publications or other outcomes likely to generate additional income. The NEC should be able to have further discussions with the project steering group concerning distribution of such income.

2.8 In considering a research proposal, the NEC must ensure that appropriate interests are represented on the project steering group and that it’s composition is in accordance with SSRG’s Equal Opportunities Policy.

3. Operational Guidelines

3.1 A steering group must be set up for each collaborative project. Its purpose will be to oversee developments, offer advice and monitor overall progress of the project. It will be expected to meet regularly. In the appointment of this group due consideration should be given to it’s composition in terms of equal opportunities.

3.2 All requests for assistance, requiring either staff-time or funding, must be submitted to the NEC by an SSRG member. The regional representative, having discussed the project with the proposer(s), may be best placed to bring the initial proposal to the attention of the NEC. Research proposals should include a planned timetable and dates for the steering group meetings.

3.3 If necessary, NEC should obtain further information and/or clarification concerning particular issues. One NEC member should be delegated responsibility for this purpose, and may also be involved in refining the proposal, particularly with a view to safeguarding SSRG’s own interests. The revised proposal should be referred to the next NEC meeting at which final amendments can be made. (NEC may wish to invite the research applicant(s) to the meeting.) One or two NEC members, or other co-opted SSRG member(s), should be appointed to the project steering group. One of these will act as liaison person for the NEC. At least one SSRG member must be employed in a local authority social services department.

3.4 If SSRG funds* are involved, the SSRG National Treasurer will set up a separate SSRG account for the project. The institution or other body directly administering the funds will have responsibility for the day to day management of the budget.

3.5 The SSRG liaison members of the project steering group will report regularly to the NEC. The NEC will require information on the general progress of the project, any ethical or equal opportunities issues arising, and, other points likely to be of particular interest to it’s members. The SSRG must be kept fully informed of any financial problems, unforeseen expenditure, or other related matters.

3.6 The NEC will provide feedback to the project steering group. If SSRG funds* are involved, any decision of the NEC concerning finance generally should be accepted. NEC views and opinions on other matters should be taken into account.

3.7 If an SSRG representative has to leave the project steering group, for whatever reason, this should be reported immediately to the NEC. Consideration will then be given to the possibility of a replacement to ensure regular contact. Any replacement of a representative should be considered in recognition of SSRG’s Equal Opportunities Policy.

3.8 Any formal paid appointments for the project are likely to be publicly advertised. Appointments should also be made with due regard to equal opportunities, with advertisements being placed in appropriate journals, including those most likely to be read by minority groups.

3.9 The NEC Chair will receive a draft copy of any final report or other written material prior to publication. The Chair may wish to delegate responsibility for reading the draft to other (non-steering group) members. Substantive comments should be relayed to the next NEC meeting. Thereafter, all comments should be forwarded to the project steering group or to the research team. A review date for action on issues/concerns must be set.

* Includes grants awarded to SSRG for a particular project (e.g. from Rowntree Memorial Trust).

18 November 1992

Revised: 01 April 1997