Researching well – Good practice and ethics in third sector research 2021 online conference

The 6th TSRF conference took place on Wednesday 17th February 2021, 9.30am – 2.30pm via Zoom.

Close to 150 people attended the conference which aimed to support researchers in or working with the third sector to:

  • explore ethical principles for third sector research and how to apply to practice
  • increase understanding of ethical issues arising and how to overcome them

Conference report

Watch this video (3:30 minutes) for conference report highlights, or read a PDF version of the report by clicking on the image below.

Click image to download PDF of conference report summary


The conference included presentations from four plenary speakers and six workshops which were all about research ethics and practice. See the full programme here.


  • Gayle Munro, National Children’s Bureau – Theory vs practice in research ethics within the third sector: some experiences and challenges in the field
  • DRILL ethics committee members Alison Koslowski, University of Edinburgh and Peter Scott, University of Portsmouth – Supporting researchers working in the third sector
  • Rebecca Sludden, Research Services Officer, Public Health Scotland – Learning from implementing an institutional ethics review process


Participants had the chance to attend two out of six workshops during the conference.

  • Connections are Key: Unlocking the Heart of Relationships Based Practice

Delivered by Rowan Anderson with Ffyona Taylor, Partnership Drugs Initiative (PDI) Corra Foundation

The purpose of this workshop is to share the experiences of the PDI team in considering ethical and safeguarding frameworks to help keep both the people participating in the study and the researchers safe. You will get insights into the ethical frameworks behind two pieces of third sector research conducted with children and families affected by alcohol and drugs, and the practitioners who support them.

During the workshop you will get a chance to explore the issues, ask questions about how Corra overcame the challenges and see some resources to help.

Read more about this research in this blog.

  • Reflecting on digital youth work research during COVID-19

Delivered by Dr Amy Calder (YouthLink Scotland) and Kelly McInnes (Northern Star Associates)

This session will explore the use of Transformative Evaluation to examine the impact of digital youth work on young people from LGBT Youth Scotland during COVID-19. This will include reflecting on the process of conducting the research in an online setting as well as the wellbeing of the practitioners involved.

Read more about this research in this blog.
Download the workshop’s slides here.

  • Getting research heard and used: understanding and achieving policy influence

Delivered by Dr Sarah Weakley (Policy Scotland, University of Glasgow) will be joined by Nick Bibby and Dr Mariola Tarrega (Scottish Policy and Research Exchange, SPRE)

A key part of our work is disseminating research findings and encouraging decision makers to use them, but how can we do this to maximise influence in an ethical way? In this workshop we’ll talk about positioning your research and expertise for decisionmakers at all levels of government and practice, and you’ll work together to plan a strategy for achieving influence.

Download the workshop’s presentation slides here.
Download the workshop’s resources list here.

  • The peer research journey: supporting researchers and participants

Delivered by Mental Health Foundation in Scotland

This workshop, led by a collaborative of researchers and partners of the Mental Health Foundation in Scotland, will explore how peer researchers and participants are supported through each stage of the peer research journey. The workshop will explore the concept of peer research from initiation to implementation. It will look at the development of peer research programmes, mechanisms for and levels of involvement and ethical issues such as consent. We will demonstrate the importance of including lived experience voices in the research process through real world examples of research programmes delivered by MHF and partners. 

Download the workshop’s presentation slides here.
View the Jamboard workshop feedback here.

  • Life as we know it – Participatory Art Practice as Research  

Delivered by Iain Shaw, Lauren La Rose, Media Education and Briege Nugent

An interactive media arts workshop based on the experiences of the Peer Researchers Media Education works with. Utilising Media Education’s 30-year experience of working in collaboration with young people, you will be supported to conduct storytelling and filmmaking exercises that we currently use for our creative reports. All training will be provided, and no previous media experience is required to attend. For this session you will need a mobile phone, tablet or device you feel comfortable using.

  • Supporting young peer researchers through a COVID-19 research project 

Delivered by Sean Peacock, Jenny Wood and Jamie Hamilton, A Place in Childhood

At this workshop, you will hear about A Place in Childhood’s self-funded research into children and young people’s experiences of the first COVID-19 lockdown. We will discuss this before encouraging participants to share their own challenges of commissioning and conducting research. Then, in a breakout activity, we’ll ask participants to design their own research projects that respond to a real or imagined crisis for a specific marginalised group. This is an opportunity to discuss best practice in research involving peer researchers and vulnerable groups and share in an engaging learning experience.

Read more about this research in this blog.

TSRF Guide to applying ethical principles

During the afternoon plenary, the TSRF launched the draft its latest publication: Draft TSRF Guide to applying ethical principles. Participants were split into breakout rooms where they were consulted about the new resource. After a consultation period following the conference the guide was published in this final version in June 2021.

TSRF film – What the forum does

Just before the afternoon plenary we launched a 6-minute film on what the TSRF does:

The film is also embedded in the TSRF homepage.

#TSRF21 Tweet Wall

Resources on ethics and good practice in research

We link to resources on good practice for third sector researchers, including the TSRF draft guide to applying ethical research principles.