As SPUR project team members, Tim Brunöhler from the Bertha von Suttner Private University St. Pölten, Hanna Vettori from the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences and Christopher Tupy from the University for Continuing Education Krems attended the conference in Heidelberg.
In terms of content, the main focus was on the challenging aspects of participatory research, but also the reasons were emphasised why participatory research is considered desirable. The discussion revealed that challenges can include different experiences in knowledge, language and interpersonal communication. The difficulty of the topic "inclusion from the beginning" was also known in the audience: the current logic of funding research projects only from the approval/project start does not provide explicit budgets for the participation of experts by experience in the phases of brainstorming and application. Christopher Tupy, for example, only joined the SPUR team as a citizen scientist and experts by experience shortly after the start of the project.
The situation of decentralised work was also reported, which is on the one hand due to the cooperation of several universities in different cities, but also resulting from the different places of residence of the project members. In addition, there is decentralised and asynchronous work via digital infrastructure. This does not make it easy for the experts in the project steering group to build up a group feeling. Only the official meetings of the project or home office working hours are included in the flat-rate remuneration. The academic staff at the universities have the advantage of (occasionally) bumping into each other at their workplaces "just because" and building up an interpersonal connection.
Another challenge raised was the discrepancy between the political ambition or the requirement (also on the part of the funding institutions) for participatory research and the reality of labour law and contract design, with which HR departments often find themselves in uncharted territory. In the end, the time of one hour was unfortunately far too short and some points remained open, some of which were discussed in smaller constellations during the coffee breaks.
You can find out more about the conference "Experts by experience in research, teaching and vocational training" on 13 and 14 October 2023 in Heidelberg here: Programme.
The fishbowl method with traffic light cards was used as a participatory method in the SPUR workshop.