Future of the Armed Forces Research Integrator: Programme Integration and Knowledge Exchange Strategy

Lead Research Organisation: University of Greenwich
Department Name: Human Resources & Organ. Behaviour, FBUS

Abstract

There is great potential for synergy and added value across the four research projects funded under the Future of the Armed Forces Call. Integration of the research with related academic, policy and practitioner activities requires formal planning, practical coordination and on-going engagement with users and the wider stakeholder community. Our approach offers transparency of undertakings with an emphasis on interaction, dialogue and feedback. There are four key dimensions of our approach: i) pragmatic integration; ii) scientific integration; iii) policy and practitioner engagement; and iv) impact evaluation.
Pragmatic integration is required to facilitate day to day working across a team of civilian and military colleagues dispersed throughout the UK and will include:
*acting as key point of contact for all partners, including the Ministry of Defence (MOD), British Army and ESRC;
*on-going liaison with nominated partners through regular telephone contact, weekly email updates, monthly virtual and six-monthly face to face meetings;
*developing an agreed work plan containing key milestones and events across the four research projects and the integration strategy;
*leading the programme including finalizing the workplan and agreeing terms of reference for the integrator role and Standard Operating Procedures;
*delivering robust information management including a database of relevant academic and grey literature;
*management of six monthly reporting as required by the funding partners.
Scientific integration will maximize the value of the four separate projects and support effective knowledge exchange (KE). This will include:
*coordination of applications for formal ethical approval and discussion of ethical issues throughout the timeline of the programme;
*synchronization, as appropriate, of sampling strategies and data collection methods to ensure complementarity not overlap;
*conducting and sharing scoping reviews and publication thereof;
*developing plans for sharing results and meta-analyses and delivering across programme outputs for both academic and other audiences;
*organising academic collaboration workshops to ensure this scientific integration.
Policy and practitioner engagement will raise awareness of the research programme amongst key influencers and decision makers in areas including defence, health, employment and family policy and practice and utilising the most up to date KE tools to support uptake of the research. This will enable reciprocal sharing of information regarding relevant developments in both research and policy that may require consideration over the course of the programme. Our integration strategy will utilise stakeholder mapping to ensure all key relationships are targeted. This will inform appropriate translation of research for specific audiences given the key role of relationships and networks as mechanisms for research uptake. Aspects of this engagement will include:
*a programme advisory group to review the overall integration and engagement strategy, and assist with shaping research outputs for specific audiences;
*a KE plan identifying and mapping specific stakeholder groups and how they will be engaged with the projects;
*contextual analysis to understand where and how the best impact from the four projects can be achieved;
*first point of contact for the wider stakeholder community to ensure access to a diverse range of information sources and perspectives;
*identification of capacity building activities and strategies for longer term learning and development;
*a communication plan utilizing a range of relevant tools.
Impact evaluation will be undertaken over the course of the programme to provide formative feedback and summative evaluation. We will consult with key stakeholder groups to inform and integrate pathways to impact and undertake empirical evaluation to assess the impact of research and KE in this programme.

Planned Impact

This programme aims to integrate four projects within a single research programme to inform understanding of the issues that impact on current and planned changes in the United Kingdom Armed Forces. These are transformational changes involving re-configuration of full-time (Regular) and part-time (Reserve) service personnel. They affect the numbers of people employed, how they work and where they are based. Our aim is to stimulate synergy between these four complementary projects; facilitate communication between the academic and defence partners; ensure accessible, timeous and useful research outputs; and evaluate our approach, including measuring actual and potential impacts of the research.
To achieve these aims we will bring the projects together along four dimensions: pragmatic and scientific integration, policy and practitioner engagement, and impact evaluation. This will involve facilitating day-to-day working between military and civilian colleagues, co-ordinating academic workshops and outputs, raising awareness of the research programme amongst key influencers and decision-makers, and tracking the impact of the work undertaken. We will provide a central hub for the four projects to engage with a diverse range of audiences, including serving members of the Armed Forces and their families, those responsible for policy and practice, those working in business, and the wider community.
Serving military personnel, particularly Reservists, and their families, will be actively encouraged to access and contribute to the research. By communicating widely research insights and multi-faceted understandings of the demands of reserve service, this programme of work will highlight social, economic and cultural issues that impact on service men and women, the benefits and challenges of reserve service, relevant support mechanisms, and considerations for civilian partners at both work and home.
This work will inform a broad spectrum of policy and practice. United Kingdom(UK) Ministry of Defence, British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force will link closely with the research in planning recruitment strategies, support serving reserves, their families and employers, communicating reserves policies and leading cultural change within the Armed Forces. UK Parliament will be able to use research to help shape decisions in related areas such as health, employment and family policy.
Practitioners will benefit from co-ordinated access to the research programme. The research will be helpful in recruiting and training new reservists, working to support trained reservists across their diverse range of roles and responsibilities, and building understanding of the specific challenges of balancing civilian and military employment, family and military life. Business engagement and wider public communication will inform and encourage industry leaders, large organisations and local employers to respond to the changing demands of reserve service. Better understanding of the work and family life of reservists will enable public and third sector advocacy groups to target services, information, advice and guidance more effectively to serving personnel.
In addition to these military considerations, this research will provide insights for similar circumstances for other members of the public, such as those with non-standard patterns of employment, those in high risk jobs, and occupations where a family member works away from home for long periods of time. The work will contribute to theory regarding inter-disciplinary research methods, knowledge exchange and impact evaluation, and the development of social policy.

Publications

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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
ES/M008665/1 01/08/2014 02/03/2018 £115,032
ES/M008665/2 Transfer ES/M008665/1 03/03/2018 02/10/2018 £22,484