- Are you looking for a topic for your research project?
- Would you like this topic to be closely connected to important issues raised by people in the community?
- Would you like an opportunity to practical experience that could enhance your future employment prospects?
UCC’s Community-Academic Research Links (CARL) could be what you are looking for as it provides you with a ready-made project with a community partner. We will work with you and the community partner to ensure the project meets your dissertation requirements, as well as addresses their research question, and we will support you throughout the research process in addition to the support offered by your supervisor and the community partner liaison person.
CARL is an initiative within University College Cork that supports community and voluntary groups to carry out research which is important to them. The research projects are carried out by students who are given an opportunity to develop skills and abilities, while being supervised by experienced researchers. CARL projects are open to students across the University depending on the alignment of the research question with the students’ course requirements.
The following student programmes which have engaged in CARL projects in the past: Social Work (BSW and MSW), Master of Third Sector Management, Master of Social Policy, Business Information Systems, and Youth and Community Work.
You should discuss your interest with your course director and make contact with Anna Kingston, CARL Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org, 021 4903210.
Please find below an overview of the CARL research process from beginning to final submission. Further details on this process are included in the CARL Research Process map.
- To participate in a CARL project, click on the “Apply Here!” link. You’ll find an application form here along with the list of student requirements and the list of available projects.
- If successful, you will be assigned to a project and will attend a 3-way meeting featuring you, your supervisor and the community partner liaison person. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss and agree the scope of the actual research project, the methods to be employed, the format for reporting the research findings to the voluntary/community group, and the timescale of the project. A Research Agreement will be signed at this meeting by all to ensure that everyone fully understands each other and to record the dates of the deliverables.
- Once the project begins you will first undertake a literature review relevant to the topic. This involves searching for data in, for example, scientific journals, policy documents, the Internet and other specific databases. The role of the community partner is to formulate the research question and also to provide any relevant data they have available to them that may assist you in your work.
- Depending on the nature of the question, the research team may decide on further primary research: qualitative or quantitative. This will be carried out by you in partnership with the community or voluntary organisation, or if the project is too large, possibly by another student(s) in a subsequent student intake for CARL projects.
- The normal expenses of undertaking a dissertation will be borne by the student. However, additional student expenses will be covered by the community partner. It is expected that these would be minor and should be approved in advance. CARL may be able to provide a loan of equipment to assist with your research.
- Communication between all stakeholders is maintained throughout the research process, from start to finish.
- On completion of your research, you will summarise the findings of your research into a user-friendly report for the community partner. This should be finalised in conjunction with the community partner and a series of recommendations or action points proposed. You will also submit your dissertation as normal to the University.
Carol, an MSW student, undertook a project in collaboration with the Bandon Network of Social Groups. Her project sought to investigate the possibility for Bandon to become listed as an Age-Friendly City and was called “Age-Friendly Bandon, an Assessment of Bandon’s outdoor spaces and buildings using the World Health Organisation’s guidelines on Age-Friendly Cities”.
Gill, an MSW student, undertook a project in collaboration with the YMCA’s Ground Floor Open Youth Space. Her project investigated the impact of a local youth work project being undertaken in Cork City was called “An Exploration of the Views of Young Adults aged 18+ on the YMCA ‘Ground Floor Open Youth Space’”.
- Relate theory to practice
- Work on projects with significant local impact
- Implement the skills and concepts they have learned
- Gain valuable practical experience
- Working to actual deadlines and within the financial/human resource constraints of the partner organisation
- Strengthen their confidence
- Move outside the university and link into local networks
CARL projects can enhance personal development as well as academic learning since assignments often include keeping a reflective journal, giving a final presentation and/or evaluating personal strengths and weaknesses.