Meeting the challenges of public engagement, research impact, and research participation as a baby and child lab
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As well as conducting research in developmental science, baby and child labs face additional pressures. They must demonstrate public engagement and research impact, while also recruiting enough participants to conduct research, something that can be particularly challenging with infants and young children. These different pressures compete for time and resources, leaving researchers struggling to engage effective in all such activities. Here we describe a low-cost, easy-to-implement, enjoyable and effective means of simultaneously addressing the challenges of recruitment, public engagement and research impact. It started with a process of listening and knowledge exchange with relevant local stakeholders to discern the interests and needs of the local infant community (including families, health professionals and businesses).This process led to the establishment of a fortnightly educational and support group for pregnant women and mothers of young infants, which met in the lab. This group combined peer discussion, presentations on developmental psychology, and ‘taster’ activities for mothers and infants from local businesses. Data collected from questionnaires from the first and final sessions indicated significant improvements in participants’ understanding of relevant concepts in developmental psychology, and showed that participants found this information helpful and reported using it at home. Participants also reported feeling more socially connected and more confident as mothers as a result of the group. The group also served to boost research participation, with 94 per cent of participants subsequently taking part in lab research or signing up to be contacted about future research. This approach can be employed by baby and child labs looking for ways to effectively and enjoyably promote public engagement and research impact, and for those looking to establish strong relationships with local stakeholders. The success of this strategy demonstrates that the aims of recruitment, public engagement and research impact need not be competing pressures on researchers’ time, but can be mutually supporting aspects of the research process.
Salter , G , Altdoerfer , T , Brown , G & Carpenter , M 2021 , ' Meeting the challenges of public engagement, research impact, and research participation as a baby and child lab ' , Research for All , vol. 5 , no. 2 , pp. 420-437 . https://doi.org/10.14324/RFA.05.2.15
Research for All
Copyright © 2021 Salter, Altdörfer, Brown and Carpenter. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY) 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.
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