Research and the UK Voluntary Sector

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Discussion of the challenges of helping the sector become more evidence based, and how academia can help.

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  • Where am I coming from? As a researcher As a part of the research infrastructure As someone who sort of straddles a few different boundaries – policy and practice, academia and practictitioner
  • Mention commissioning as a particular problem
  • I think we can do more by influencing others who collect data (eg LFS) But I don’t even know if we are at a stage where we can prioritise
  • Hope not too many for these to be priorities
  • Example – well, for us we have undertaken a rapid evidence assessment that I felt was particularly useful
  • Research and the UK Voluntary Sector

    1. 1. How ESRC can support and engage with the third sector The third sector perspective Karl Wilding | NCVO Research| March 2007 [email_address]
    2. 2. NCVO research <ul><li>Typical trade assn research </li></ul><ul><li>Supports policy and practice </li></ul><ul><li>10 staff, £500k turnover </li></ul><ul><li>Key part of the infrastructure </li></ul>
    3. 3. Points of reference <ul><li>NCVO collaborates with ESRC </li></ul><ul><li>The NCVO perspective is generic </li></ul><ul><li>I am not talking about: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Professional’ research bodies that happen to be charitable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Medical research charities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Large charities might not fit my argument </li></ul>
    4. 4. What is ‘distinctive’ about the third sector? <ul><li>Large number of small entities </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple industries, interests </li></ul><ul><li>Researches the social agenda, not just R&D </li></ul><ul><li>Poor coverage in official statistics </li></ul><ul><li>Research poorly resourced? </li></ul>
    5. 5. Process and dynamics <ul><li>Research funder, user, consumer, abuser </li></ul><ul><li>Fairly weak links with academia, professional institutes </li></ul><ul><li>Dispersed sole-traders </li></ul><ul><li>Dispersed evidence base </li></ul>
    6. 6. Gaps: research <ul><li>Evidence reviews </li></ul><ul><li>Large-scale, time-series data </li></ul><ul><li>Theoretical development </li></ul><ul><li>Thematic: </li></ul><ul><li>Dynamics, characteristics, contribution/’value’ </li></ul><ul><li>Public service delivery </li></ul>
    7. 7. Gaps: capacity/engagement <ul><li>Centralised knowledge-base </li></ul><ul><li>Centre(s) of excellence </li></ul><ul><li>Professional development </li></ul><ul><li>Non-professional development </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence>Policy>Campaigns </li></ul><ul><li>Networks & brokerage </li></ul><ul><li>Basic capacity/resources? </li></ul>
    8. 8. Gaps: priorities <ul><li>Review existing public datasets </li></ul><ul><li>Influence existing data collection strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Centralised knowledge-base </li></ul><ul><li>Networks & brokerage </li></ul>
    9. 9. Priorities for ESRC? <ul><li>With social scientists: </li></ul><ul><li>Address the inter-disciplinary problem </li></ul><ul><li>Take communication of research seriously </li></ul><ul><li>Use influence to promote the field </li></ul><ul><li>Build critical mass </li></ul><ul><li>(Does funding lead or follow?) </li></ul>
    10. 10. Priorities for ESRC? <ul><li>With users (practice/policy): </li></ul><ul><li>Help us find social science/scientists </li></ul><ul><li>Commissioning/using social science </li></ul><ul><li>Help us build an evidence culture </li></ul><ul><li>Help us build a research community </li></ul><ul><li>Use your influence to build resources and partnerships </li></ul>
    11. 11. Can social science make a difference? <ul><li>Yes, of course, if: </li></ul><ul><li>Engagement, not dissemination </li></ul><ul><li>TSOs understand its value…and cost </li></ul><ul><li>Policymakers value robust, properly resourced social science </li></ul>
    12. 12. Final thoughts <ul><li>Stop reinventing the wheel </li></ul><ul><li>It’s not just about funding (more) research </li></ul><ul><li>Leadership, Leadership, Leadership </li></ul>

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