Do we know how we will do high-level planning together? How will we run collaborative meetings?
The approach that you take in a research partnership has a huge bearing on the results and impacts of the project. An effective strategy takes careful planning through all stages of the research process. Designing a logic model or theory of change method can help to identify and clarify your strategy.
Creating a meeting and communication structure that facilitates innovative and evidence-based strategic planning will make the process smoother. Methods of running effective meetings depend on contextual and personality factors, but in general everyone should have a chance to speak and feel comfortable voicing opinions, and the conversation should be semi-structured to help stay on topic while having enough flexibility to encourage creative thinking and problem-solving.
How will we coordinate the research project?
Coordinating projects involves organizing people, institutions, and tasks. It also requires time management, effective planning, and understanding budgets. Consulting with people who have knowledge on each facet of the project can make logistical planning easier. Having someone responsible for bringing everyone together (i.e., a task-master or a minute-taker) can help make the process smoother.
A long-term community-university partnership often takes more time and resources than originally planned. Proper investment for the return you seek is important. For example, backbone structures/institutions help keep partners connected, help make the case to the community and funders, and help guide the project towards its vision and mission.
How will we ensure the project is well-organized? Do we know how we will match community organization and academic timelines?
The project timeline begins at engaging, planning, and developing the research and moves into implementing, evaluating, and refining the research. When constructing a timeline, consider important dates (i.e., elections, budget cycles) and capacity.
The schedules for community organizations and academic institutions differ, so consider the implications of fiscal year and the academic year when planning the schedule for deliverables and even for planning regular meetings and communication. Keep in mind that ethics approval for projects with academic partners can take some time and plan accordingly.