To develop challenge-driven and solutions-orientated research, the COACCH project has sought to proactively involve stakeholders in a process of co-design, co-production and co-delivery. This report summarises insights and key messages from the evaluation of this collaborative process and proposes guidelines with practical steps for best practice in collaborative research.
Based on the evaluation of the COACCH Co-Design process (Deliverable 1.10 Findings from thematic working groups and deep engagement case studies), a series of guidelines for best practice in collaborative research are suggested. This is focused, in line with the COACCH project, on instrumental co-design, focused on creating useable knowledge, and using a brokered approach. The approach has been organised into a five-step process: Preparation; First meetings; Internal exchange; Check-in; Final product development. For each step, practical advice on implementation and specific case examples from the COACCH project are summarised.
COACCH was an ambitious project, even without the collaborative element, and there have been many challenges to implementing a co-designed approach in practice. Nevertheless, there has been a spirit of collaboration and openness to greater stakeholder involvement. Two key lessons stand out for us above all: firstly, the importance of being committed to a more involved approach to stakeholder collaboration, with its iterative and adaptive format and secondly, the need for all engaged to be in regular and transparent communication about research and user needs, as well as constraints. Finally, we suggest that these guidelines and a focus on adaptive interactions and open communication is relevant to all research, not only that which is labelled as co-designed.