The Network (RCBN) is already active in Phases I and II of the TLRP, and currently conducting a series of nationwide meetings, and a number of 'stakeholder' interviews as the start of a skills/needs consultation. Our work to assist the Steering Committee and Programme Director with the task of capacity-building during commissioning of the Phase III projects will be based on a similar structure - a core Executive Group with the ability to 'buy' in expertise from the Cardiff School, and beyond, as required. The group is liable to change if any of the individuals are themselves part of a bid to TLRP Phase III (since it was a pre-condition of this arrangement that Cardiff researchers unconnected with this activity remained free to bid in Phase III). All of the group are experienced and successful bidders to the ESRC and MRC who will therefore be able to assist less experienced colleagues on the nature and format of their bids, as well as on the proposed methodological implementation of their questions. The group also contains expertise on a range of methods, subject disciplines, and settings for post-compulsory learning.
We have been awarded an increase of costs of £77,000 (at year 2000 prices) to conduct this capacity-building during commissioning. This will pay for some medium-term teaching replacement for the Executive Group, and for some ad hoc teaching replacement or fees for other consultants. It will also provide the necessary costs for travel, communication and equipment.
Although this project is an unusual step in competitive tendering, and raises some important practical and ethical issues, we believe it to be an important task. It is likely to lead to greater short term improvement in the diversity and rigour of methods than the capacity-building work with Phases I/II which, of necessity, is focused more on the next research conducted by those in the Programme rather than the work of the Programme itself.
One way in which the capacity-building could be combined with commissioning would involve the complete separation of selection of bids, and the allocation of capacity-building resources to bids, from the capacity-building itself. Advice would be available from the RCBN to all those intending to bid, on a responsive basis. If we assume that there will be more applications than funds available, the Committee would create a short-list from outline proposals. All of these would be asked to prepare a full bid for a second round of selection, and all would be given the full assistance of the Cardiff Network. In essence, it is the research idea (rather than the full methods, costings etc.) that is judged in the first round. If the idea is good and practical, the commissioning process then tries to convert it into the most practicable form. The final results would then be refereed as normal. All advice must be emphasised as being 'without prejudice'.
Prior to the deadline for the initial bids (until March 2002 provisionally), the assistance of the Network would be widely advertised and available to all preparing (or considering) an application. This assistance would be provided on a request basis, and would include advice, facilitation, and tutorial sessions as appropriate. The other activities of the Network throughout the year are likely to include training in combining approaches, locating relevant existing datasets, designing new protocols, putting applicants in touch with relevant experts, asking difficult (referee-like) questions of the proposed method/design, making causal models explicit, help with sampling.
Provisional time-line for activities (will need adjustment in light of delays)
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This page was last updated 7th January 2004