Imagine a world where citizens and researchers are valued for their co-contribution to research. Collaboration has always been crucial in conducting research, yet the key issue is to what extent it should be implemented. In my recent trip to the University of Gdańsk, I discussed this topic with researchers from all over Europe. 

The University of Malta has recently been recognised as  a European University forming part of a consortium of universities ‒ ‘European University of the Sea’ (SEA-EU, an ERASMUS+ funded project) involving universities with strengths and expertise in marine-maritime related research, outreach and education. 

Collaborative research is participatory in nature and its purpose is to engage citizens with research. Its role is to inform, consult and co-create. Co-creation refers to a higher level of citizens’ involvement in the process of producing knowledge through every aspect of the research process.

Researchers may not always regard this method as the preferred mode of engaging citizens and, in the world of academia, citizens are continuously encouraged to simply collect data. This raises researchers’ concerns about the validity of data.  With proper training, citizens are able to successfully collect scientifically valid data.

 What citizens within different sub-groups in society can offer to research and innovation governance varies ‒ from knowledge provided by citizens, industry or societal organisations to specific values and concerns. To co-create research, citizens need to be included in all the steps of the process. This  calls for the democratisation of expertise and for participatory research to include researchers, citizens and others in the research process.

Participation in the  process between different stakeholders allows for desirable social interaction and dynamics such as mutual understanding, possible changes in attitudes and ultimately actions of engaged participants in the decision-making process.  Effective participation of various actors enables political equality and the empowerment of marginalised groups as it is based on the foundation of building trust, finding compromises and resolving conflicts. Alliances like SEA-EU build frameworks for effective ocean governance and empower communities and societies through collaborative research initiatives.

More information can be found

Danielle Martine Farrugia, PhD student, Researcher, Radio host

Did you know? 

• Geckos have the ability to voluntarily detach their tails if they are attacked and regrow it within 30 days.

• Orcas are considered the largest species of the dolphin family.

• Axolotls are amphibians that reach adulthood without undergoing metamorphosis, the adults remain aquatic and with gills.

• Frogfish do not have teeth so they have to swallow their prey whole.

For more trivia see: 

Sound Bites

• Four Dead Sea Scrolls manuscript fragments currently at the University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library that were previously thought to be blank, actually contain text. This research was led by Joan Taylor from King’s College London, Marcello Fidanzo from the Faculty of Theology of Lugano and Dennis Mizzi from the University of Malta.  What’s different from other cases of assumed to be Dead Sea Scrolls fragments is that these small pieces have been found in the official excavations of the Qumran caves and never went through the antiquities market.

• A number of priorities of the marine social science community were identified in a workshop held at the MARE 2019 conference in June. The priorities identified were; the need to improve capacity for marine social science research globally, the importance of nurturing an inclusive and equitable marine social science research community and the role of networks to continue to raise the profile of marine social science data, and global evidence based marine policy and management. The paper also presents recommendations that calls for collaborative and strategic thinking on marine social sciences across marine science and the policy interface. Dialogue serves to bridge the gap with the wider marine community across various sectors and governance that revolve around the needs of society.

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