ACCESS - Advancing Capacity for Climate  and Environment Social Science
ACCESS - Advancing Capacity for Climate  and Environment Social Science
Visual minutes from ACCESS Assembly 2023

Guiding Principles

Version 4 – March 2023

These Guiding Principles have been developed on behalf of ACCESS by  Stewart Barr, Kate Burningham, Sarah Golding, Steve Guilbert and Sarah Hartley.

The Guiding Principles – incorporating the information presented below – are primarily aimed at colleagues and partners working directly with the ACCESS network on core project tasks, as well as those affiliated with the network in other ways (for example, Flex Fund applicants, and Leadership College Fellows). You can download the principles here ACCESS Guiding Principles V4 March 13 2023  or keep scrolling down this page.

We also hope that the Guiding Principles can act as tools to provide inspiration and guidance to the wider Environmental Social Science community.

ACCESS ‘Guiding Principles’ – An Overview 


1. What are our Guiding Principles? 

The ACCESS programme has three Guiding Principles:  

  1. Environmental Sustainability (ES) 
  2. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) 
  3. Knowledge Co-production (KCP)   

These three principles play two key roles within ACCESS.  Firstly, to act as a common, intertwined, thread running through, and stitching together, different parts of the programme. Secondly, to inform, shape and guide all ACCESS activities. 

2. Why are these Guiding Principles important? 

Successfully tackling climate and environmental challenges – such as biodiversity loss, sustainable use of resources, and decarbonisation – will only be achieved if we actively include diverse voices in both the design and delivery of solutions and if we reduce the environmental impacts of our own research practices.  

3. Who produced these Guiding Principles and who are they for?

The ACCESS Guiding Principles team, with input from the wider ACCESS community, have been responsible for defining and articulating the programme’s Guiding Principles Version 4 (Versions 1-3 formed draft and consultation versions, with Version 4 being the first public iteration of the Guiding Principles).  They have been developed in the first instance to guide the activities of all those working on the ACCESS programme and/or those who form part of the wider ACCESS community.   

However, we also hope these Guiding Principles will be of interest and use more broadly across the wider Environmental Social Science research, policy and practice communities.  Lessons learnt from putting these principles into practice by those involved in ACCESS and beyond will be used to collectively reflect upon and refine the Guiding Principles and the processes of how and when to implement them.  As such, successive versions will be more widely co-produced.  

4. When should these principles be incorporated into ACCESS-related activities?   

It is our ambition that those working on the ACCESS programme and/or those who form part of the wider ACCESS community will embed ES, EDI and KCP considerations and practices into their ACCESS-related activities, and where possible, in work-related activities beyond ACCESS.  The principles of ES, EDI and KCP should be embedded into ACCESS activities at the earliest opportunity and on an ongoing basis.  We recognise that doing so will be challenging and take additional time, effort and resources. This additional time needs to be planned for, particularly for initial attempts to change practices.   

5. How might these Guiding Principles be incorporated into ACCESS-related activities? 

These pages have been developed to take those working on the ACCESS programme and/or those who form part of the wider ACCESS community, through the process, step-by-step, of how to incorporate these principles into ACCESS activities.  In developing the Guiding Principles, we have been keen to ensure they are not too restrictive or prescriptive.  These pages should not, therefore, be viewed as a rule book – rather they are intended to act as a gentle prompt to think and do things a bit differently.  We hope these pages can help ACCESS colleagues and ACCESS community members to orientate and navigate what can be new and challenging terrain.  

Navigating the Guiding Principles 

The Guiding Principles are intended to act both as a guide to core ACCESS activity (in a non-prescriptive way) and as inspiration for the wider Environmental Social Science research, policy and practice communities. We anticipate the Guiding Principles will be developed over time as we receive input from others and reflect upon and learn from our own experiences within ACCESS.   

These pages – which are not intended to be exhaustive in terms of resources and encouraged actions – have 5 main sections: 

  1. An Introduction to ACCESS’s three Guiding Principles: Environmental Sustainability (ES); Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI); and Knowledge Co-production (KCP) 
  2. An outline of the Core Elements of each of the three Guiding Principles 
  3. Principles into Practice – a guide through the process of how and when to operationalise and incorporate ES, EDI, and KCP considerations into your ACCESS activities  
  4. Signposts to further resources for each of the three Guiding Principles  
  5. Activity Matrices – these outline how the Guiding Principles can be applied to key activities that colleagues and partners across ACCESS undertake, with encouraged actions that will enable you and those you work with to enact these principles in your research and other activities. We have identified nine core areas of work to specifically address with an activity matrix – but the focus on these core areas does not preclude the Guiding Principles from being applied to other activities conducted across ACCESS. These core work areas are: 
  1. Internal meetings 
  2. Workshops and events 
  3. Communication 
  4. Working Groups 
  5. Recruitment (employees; participants at ‘applied for’ events) 
  6. Flex Fund Administration 
  7. Externally-facing training 
  8. People development within ACCESS
  9. Research Activities 

Introducing the ACCESS Guiding Principles

The stated ambition for ACCESS is that all our work and activities across the programme will be informed and shaped by three fundamental, Guiding Principles.  These are: Environmental Sustainability (ES); Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI); and Knowledge Co-production (KCP).  While each of these three principles has its own set of individual, distinct features or core elements (see below), often they are inextricably intertwined.  Issues of equity and justice, for example, are at the heart of environmental sustainability, and the inclusion of diverse perspectives through knowledge co-production is critical for delivering successful, environmentally sustainable solutions. 

Our specific aims within ACCESS are to: 

  • Embed environmental sustainability considerations into our practices and decision making, to maximise co-benefits for our research and the environment 
  • Foster a safe, welcoming and inclusive culture across ACCESS, by promoting equality and valuing diversity, to protect the rights and dignity of all our colleagues, partners and stakeholders, and ensure everyone feels valued for who they are  
  • Adopt and promote a knowledge co-production approach that involves partnership and collaboration between academic researchers and other knowledge holders in the design, generation, and dissemination of research designed to address environmental problems  
  • Take all three Guiding Principles into account in our decision-making and practice, identifying and learning from points of synergy and tension 
  • Outline a process that leads to the adoption of new ways of thinking and doing, and the incorporation of the Guiding Principles of ES, EDI and KCP across the ACCESS programme and beyond 


Environmental Sustainability – Core Elements

  • Environmental Sustainability, in the context of environmental social science (ESS) research practice, means focusing – as a primary consideration – on minimising negative environmental impact and maximising environmental benefit  
  • Ways of working that are Environmentally Sustainable will aim, wherever possible, to derive co-benefits for ESS researchers, administrative units and wider civil society, incorporating climate-ecological, social, economic, cultural and personal wellbeing advantages  
  • Environmental Sustainability considerations should be a positive identifiable element of the professional conduct and development of ESS researchers and administrative units  
  • Environmental Sustainability considerations will need to be cognisant of and aligned to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) considerations, to ensure equal access to opportunities   
  • Policies for promoting Environmental Sustainability should be co-produced to maximise benefit to all concerned 


Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – Core Elements

  • Under the Equality Act 2010 it is against the law to discriminate against someone because of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation 
  • In our work in ACCESS we are committed to upholding the Equality Act, as well as avoiding exclusion or discrimination on the basis of other personal characteristics (e.g., class background, income, physical or mental health) as well as professional characteristics (e.g., career stage, discipline, sector) 
  • ‘Equality’ means discrimination should be eliminated and increasing equality of opportunity ensured. It means that people should be treated the same way, regardless of individual difference 
  • The principle of ’Equity’ goes further and should guide Environmental Social Science (ESS) research and practice. This means recognizing that each person has different circumstances and that targeted allocation of resources and opportunities may be needed to reach an equal outcome 
  • ‘Diversity’ is concerned with representation. Colleagues, partners and stakeholders should be valued for the different backgrounds and perspectives they have to offer 
  • ‘Inclusion’ means creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and is able to participate, which may involve reflecting on how we can proactively make reasonable adjustments to our usual processes. Inclusive environments often benefit everyone 
  • In the USA it is common to refer to DEIJ: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice. Ensuring our approach is just means ensuring that both processes and outcomes are fair.


Knowledge Co-Production – Core Elements

  • Knowledge Co-Production (KCP) involves the sharing of both information and power in the production of new knowledge 
  • KCP should open-up key research decisions to a broader range of actors, knowledge and perspectives to substantively improve research both in terms of efficacy and impact 
  • KCP often requires new ways of thinking about expertise and interests. Partners should be ‘knowledge-holders’ rather than ‘stake-holders’ 
  • KCP is an iterative, flexible, and reflexive process that should involve risk taking and experimentation.   
  • KCP should be adequately resourced, allocating time and budget resources to specified activities, interactions, and engagement.  Recognise the value of building relationships and networks 
  • KCP should begin “upstream” in the research process so it can impact research questions and trajectories  
  • However, it is never too late to start KCP. For projects at later stages, try co-authoring an academic paper or organising a workshop with partners – these activities may lead to more robust and upstream KCP in future projects 


Guiding Principles – Commonalities  

Environmental Sustainability (ES), Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), and Knowledge Co-Production (KCP) share a set of common characteristics and operational principles, for example:  

  • ES, EDI, and KCP challenge business as usual and require new ways of thinking and doing  
  • ES, EDI, and KCP should be central considerations in all ACCESS activities 
  • Individuals, administrative units and whole organisations all have a role to play in reflecting on and changing their practices 
  • ES, EDI and KCP considerations are contextual and require the use of both appropriate evidence and judgement  
  • Environmental Social Science researchers and administrative units should lead in developing and implementing good practice to promote ES, EDI and KCP practices in their academic research and – where feasible – within their organization 
  • ES, EDI and KCP considerations, and associated policies and actions, are dynamic and evolving, requiring regular personal and collective reflection on practice  

Principles into Practice – The Process 

Putting these Principles into Practice will require ongoing reflection. The diagram and associated text below are intended to provide guidance for how and when to incorporate ES, EDI, and KCP considerations into your ACCESS activities.


Image depicts a process flow chart, which illustrates different steps involved in applying the guiding principles in practice. The flow chart illustrates that the process of applying the guiding principles starts with recognising the need for, and engaging with, the idea of applying the principles. The flow chart then illustrates that there is an ongoing process of planning, implementing, evaluating, and learning about how best to incorporate these principles into practice. Finally, the flow chart also illustrates that learnings should be shared.

Principles into Practice – Some Key Pointers 


1. Recognise 

  • Environmental Sustainability (ES), Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and Knowledge Co-production (KCP) are integral to our activities within (and beyond) ACCESS 
  • Incorporating these principles into your work may be challenging and will take time and effort  


 2. Engage

  • Be proactive and engage with these challenges – explore relevant literature and be willing to critique own your (and others’) practices  
  • Seek out ‘how to’ and ‘best practice’ guidance (see Activity Matrices for encouraged actions and refer to the Further Resources) 
  • Engage with people who have an interest in the process or will be affected by decisions and plans you make – invite them to contribute and engage in meaningful dialogue 
  • Seek out marginalised/minoritised voices (who are less likely to be represented in academic journals and other ‘traditional’ forums). If invited to speak or contribute to activities, ensure people are compensated and recognised for their time (e.g., remuneration, co-authorship, leadership positions)  


3. Plan

  • Plan how to incorporate ES, EDI, and KCP into your ACCESS activities (and beyond), and at all stages of the process 
  • Consider budget implications for these activities and increase/adapt budget requests accordingly 
  • Remember that plans will be contextual and activity-specific requiring the use of both appropriate evidence and judgement   
  • Be mindful of the synergies and potential tensions/trade-offs between ES, EDI, and KCP (see below)  
  • Where ES, EDI and KCP have not been integrated at an early stage, review activities to determine how they can be embedded in future activities (or included in retrospective reviews/reflections if not considered earlier); better late than never! 


4. Implement 

  • Enact your plans  
  • Do not be afraid of feeling uncomfortable or making mistakes – be flexible, adaptive and open to feedback and new ways of working  


5. Evaluate and Reflect

  • Review activities against plans  
  • No person or process is perfect; examine and acknowledge what went well and what could be improved next time  
  • Proactively seek feedback and engage in self-reflection  


6. Learn, Share and Repeat

  • Consider how to best share learnings with wider ACCESS community and beyond 
  • Incorporate your learnings into planning for future activities  


Principles into Practice – Synergies and Trade-offs 

As noted above, while the three Guiding Principles of Environmental Sustainability (ES), Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), and Knowledge Co-production (KCP) share a number of common characteristics and operational principles, it is important to recognise that there may also be significant tensions.  In some contexts, putting these three principles into practice may reveal clear synergies between them, while in other contexts, it will be apparent that certain trade-offs will need to be made.      

Principles into Practice – Making Decisions 

These Guiding Principles are not intended to be too prescriptive.  When deciding on the best course of action to take – for example, whether to hold a meeting/workshop/event in-person or online – we suggest adopting a considered and balanced approach to decision-making, on a case-by-case basis.  In some instances, a hybrid meeting might be an appropriate compromise, in others it might not.   

Incorporating the Guiding Principles of Environmental Sustainability (ES), Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and Knowledge Co-production (KCP) into ACCESS activities will inevitably lead to some tensions arising and trade-offs being made.  However, there are more synergies between ES, EDI and KCP than there are tensions.  Not all meetings with a co-production requirement need be in-person.  Similarly, sustainability considerations do not mean you should never travel to an in-person meeting/conference, even when there are hybrid options.   

Adopting new ways of working will sometimes be challenging, and you are not required to always get it right.  What you are required to do, however, if you haven’t done so already, is to engage with these issues, reflect on your own current practices and start taking steps to embed the core principles of ES, EDI and KCP into all your activities, across – and if possible, beyond – the ACCESS programme.  To this end we hope these Guiding Principles provide inspiration useful guidance.  

Further Resources 

Environmental Sustainability 

Academic Literature:


Selected Other Resources: 


Equality, Diversity and Inclusion 

 Academic literature:


Selected Other Resources: 


Knowledge Co-production 

Academic Literature  


Selected Other Resources:


Activity Matrix I – Internal Meetings 

These suggested considerations and encouraged actions relate to both ad hoc and regular ‘internal’ project meetings, as well as general interactions with colleagues, partners and stakeholders  


Environmental Sustainability  Equality, Diversity & Inclusion  Knowledge Co-Production 
  • Consider opportunities for virtual and hybrid internal meetings, which can often be a more environmentally sustainable option, compared to in-person meetings – especially as the ACCESS network is spread across different institutions at different locations, and many people now work from home  
  • Consider how to develop virtual/hybrid spaces as positive, inclusive and meaningful to all attendees  
  • Schedule wider group meetings (e.g. Leadership Team, Partnership Advisory Board) between 10am and 3pm, avoiding Mondays & Fridays, to support colleagues with flexible working needs (such as childcare responsibilities or part-time contracts) 
  • Encourage smaller working groups to adopt similar practices around meetings, to promote support for flexible working across ACCESS colleagues, partners and stakeholders 
  • Ensure familiarity with relevant organisational policies on bullying and harassment 
  • Organise meetings to ensure all feel welcome and are able to contribute, by proactively encouraging input from group members about what an inclusive and safe space looks like for them 
  • Proactively encourage input from everyone, as internal meetings involve people with different levels of knowledge, experience, and seniority and who contribute in different ways to projects decisions 



Activity Matrix II – Workshops and Events 

These suggested considerations and encouraged actions relate to the planning and hosting by ACCESS of externally facing workshops and events (such as the Leadership College, Working Group Sessions, Summer Schools, and the Annual Assemblies) 


Environmental Sustainability  Equality, Diversity & Inclusion  Knowledge Co-Production 
  • When planning events, consider relative merits of in-person, hybrid and online events; adopt the principle that travel should be reduced but not abandoned 
  • Consult a travel hierarchy and decision support tool (e.g. An introduction to the sustainable travel hierarchy – Energy Saving Trust​​) 
  • Recommend to delegates that any travel which does take place should default to a low-carbon mode, with an order of preference being: walking, cycling, bus / coach, train, car and finally aeroplane  
  • Opt to use venues with a low environmental impact, e.g. venues with high energy efficiency 
  • Facilitate or recommend that accommodation options should prioritise establishments with environmental credentials. Major search engines like Booking and TripAdvisor offer options to search for these 
  • Consider the carbon intensity of food sourced for events and when travelling. This needs to take account of several factors, including the carbon intensity of the product’s growth, processing and transport 
  • Estimate delegate numbers as precisely as possible to minimise food waste when ordering catering and include food boxes so participants can take home left overs 
  • Liaise with venues and caterers to minimise/eliminate use of plastics, especially single-use plastics 
  • Encourage delegates to bring own reusable water bottles 
  • Where feasible, include a breakdown of carbon footprint for each event from food to travel in the minutes/reporting  


  • Provide financial support to enable in-person attendance at ACCESS’s residential events (Summer Schools and the Leadership College) by people from traditionally under-represented groups and those who require additional funds to attend (such as those with caring responsibilities, disability needs, or low incomes) 
  • Provide hybrid options where appropriate and feasible, ensuring that online participants are effectively supported to enable meaningful participation in hybrid meetings 
  • Actively invite a diverse range of speakers and presenters 
  • Include statement(s) in event promotional material highlighting that we welcome attendance from diverse participants, including those who may require additional support to attend. 
  • Engage in conversations with venues about accessibility and provide specific information about any provisions such as step-free access, dietary considerations, sole-occupancy boarding, sensory considerations, timetabling etc so that it clear that serious consideration has been given to accessibility 
  • Monitor and assess diversity of participants at key ACCESS events (e.g. Annual Assemblies, Summer Schools, Leadership College) by collecting data about participants’ personal and professional characteristics   
  • Recognize that public transport is not always the most appropriate option for everyone  
  • Be mindful of varying dietary needs when arranging catering (e.g., allergies, vegetarian/vegan, Halal/Kosher etc.) 
  • Avoid scheduling key events during major religious festivals and holidays, school pick up/drop off times, peak travel times (cost of living), offer hybrid for those who have caring responsibilities  
  • Identify, circulate and implement best practice advice on hosting accessible, inclusive events 


  • Recognise that KCP benefits from face-to-face, in-person interaction 
  • Consider co-convening / co-hosting with someone who holds different knowledge to you (i.e. from a different discipline or a non-academic) 
  • Seek to invite people who bring different knowledge and perspectives to the table. 
  • Choose an appropriate venue and design the room set-up to ’open up’ discussion.    
  • Set an informal atmosphere that breaks down knowledge hierarchies  
  • Incorporate time to socialise / network 
  • Provide opportunities for informal interactions by ensuring sufficient food and refreshments breaks; these often support informal interactions 
  • Minimise ‘talking at’ (presentations); maximise ‘talking with’ (discussion) 
  • Include time for reflection and challenging assumptions 
  • Ensure short, prompt summaries of workshops and ensure all participants are given an opportunity to provide comment on them. 
  • Consider the different ways of communicating workshop findings so that non-academics can engage with them 



Activity Matrix III – Communication 

These suggested considerations and encouraged actions have been formulated in relation to the formal communications strategy for ACCESS, which covers predominantly externally-facing communications. This guidance is, however, also relevant for less formal, internal communications.  


Environmental Sustainability  Equality, Diversity & Inclusion  Knowledge Co-Production 
  • Consider carefully the relative merits of digital versus physical ‘hard’ copies of communications outputs   
  • Where printed copies of outputs are deemed useful try not to overestimate how many copies you might need (many desks and offices are cluttered with unused/undistributed project brochures/leaflets/reports etc.) 
  • Ensure physical outputs are produced using the most sustainable methods and materials as possible 
  • Examine the sustainability credentials of third-party communications / consultancies / professionals you work with 
  • Ensure project website is kept lean to balance tensions between sharing sufficient content and minimising the carbon footprint of hosting server 


  • Ensure images used in communications represent diverse people 
  • Use inclusive language in our communications  
  • Provide information in a range of accessible formats (e.g. make use of ALT TEXT, subtitles, audio)  
  • Identify and make use of diverse communication channels and networks, including those aimed at under-represented groups such as those who identify as Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic, LGBTQIA+, or those who are neurodiverse 
  • Ensure the project website is Disability Discrimination Act compliant 
  • Ensure communication and promotional materials reflect best practice in visual accessibility (e.g., considering colour contrast, background colours)  


  • Think about the language, tone and content of all communications materials 
  • Identify and work with target audiences to co-design and tailor specific communications materials/outputs to meet their needs 
  • Ensure the knowledge and perspectives being communicated reflect contributions from people with different types of knowledge, including traditionally marginalised peoples 
  • Consider co-producing communications outputs (e.g. blog, think piece etc.) 



Activity Matrix IV – Working Groups 

These suggested considerations and encouraged actions relate to the establishment of ACCESS Working Groups.  They combine many elements of the previous slides e.g. meetings/events, communications. 


Environmental Sustainability  Equality, Diversity & Inclusion  Knowledge Co-Production 
  • Recognise that in-person meetings can play an important role in establishing working groups and building relationships and trust between group members, particularly in the early stages of working group formation 
  • Recognise, however, not all working group meetings need to be in-person going forward. Consider carefully the relative merits of on-line vs. in-person for each meeting 
  • Include in your considerations the considerable environmental sustainability benefits of online meetings 
  • Be mindful of the number of attendees, how far each would need to travel and the mode of transport they would likely take to attend an in-person meeting 
  • Consider the carbon intensity of food sourced for meetings and when travelling. This needs to take account of several factors, including the carbon intensity of the product’s growth, processing, and transport 
  • Schedule wider group meetings at co-agreed times that support flexible working needs  
  • Regularly review (at least annually) group membership to ensure diverse voices are invited and included  
  • Be proactively welcoming of diverse participants to ensure these spaces are positive, inclusive and meaningful to attendees  
  • Advise colleagues and partners to familiarise themselves with relevant organisational policies on bullying and harassment 
  • Organise meetings and other working group activities to ensure all feel welcome and are able to contribute 
  • Recognize that public transport is not always the most appropriate option for everyone  
  • Be mindful of varying dietary needs when arranging catering (e.g., allergies, vegetarian/vegan, Halal/Kosher etc.) 



  • Recognise that Working Groups are a useful method of knowledge co-production  
  • Ensure you have disciplinary and knowledge diversity when setting-up the group 
  • Collectively agree Working Group Terms of Reference, including the frequency, type, aim, and location of meetings 
  • Ensure inclusivity in ongoing discussions and decisions about meeting agendas, activities, methods of communication throughout the life of the Working Group 
  • Facilitate a relaxed environment and opportunities for informal interactions by ensuring sufficient food and refreshments breaks; these often form an integral part of Working Group meetings. 





Activity Matrix V – Recruitment (Jobs; Events) 

These suggested considerations and encouraged actions relate to recruitment processes conducted within ACCESS. These predominantly relate to the open calls for applications to the Summer Schools and Leadership College. Employing organisations within ACCESS are limited to three universities; posts are currently filled (as at February 2023) but should further recruitment be required, these actions would be relevant for future staff recruitment  


Environmental Sustainability  Equality, Diversity & Inclusion  Knowledge Co-Production 
  • Should interviews be necessary as part of recruitment processes, consider the need for in-person interviews and the potential environmental sustainability and EDI co-benefits of online interviewing  


  • Include statement(s) in both job and event application adverts highlighting that we welcome applications from diverse applicants, including those from under-represented groups 
  • Ensure job adverts/event publicity are circulated widely, including via channels where calls are more likely to be visible to members of under-represented groups 
  • Ensure diverse selection panels for job interviews and event applications  
  • Conduct blinded review of applicants to key ACCESS events (e.g. Summer Schools, Leadership College) 
  • Colleagues involved in recruitment and selection should have undertaken equality and diversity training, including training in unconscious bias 
  • Share interview questions in advance 
  • Avoid disciplinary bias when shortlisting and interviewing 




Activity Matrix VI – Flex Fund Administration 

These suggested considerations and encouraged actions relate to the design of the call for applications, the process of reviewing applications, and awarding funds. 


Environmental Sustainability  Equality, Diversity & Inclusion  Knowledge Co-Production 
The Flex Fund People/Panel  

  • Consider carefully the relative merits of online vs. in-person for any Flex Fund meetings  

The Call/Process  

  • Design the call to enable applicants to demonstrate how they will make a net benefit to sustainability  
  • Encourage applicants to follow the Principles into Practice flow chart when preparing their ideas  

The Applications  

  • Design call to ensure issues related to sustainability are explicitly considered and addressed within applications, for example through justifying the need for travel 


The Flex Fund People/Panel  

  • Ensure diversity from across ACCESS is represented in the Flex Fund Team and the application reviewers 

The Call  

  • Design call to enable early career researchers to be co-investigators   
  • Design call to ensure diversity in co-investigator team (e.g., require mix of genders, ethnicities, career stages, sectors)  
  • Include statement(s) in Flex Fund calls highlighting that we welcome applications from diverse applicants, including those from under-represented groups  
  • Ensure information about Flex Fund is posted and circulated widely to be visible to ECRs and members of under-represented groups  
  • Design call to ensure issues related to EDI are considered and addressed within applications (e.g. applicants might engage in co-production, or address questions of inequality, or run a networking event designed to support under-represented groups)  

The Process  

  • Conduct blinded review of applications to Flex Fund   
  • Ensure diversity amongst peer reviewers of Flex Fund applications 
The Flex Fund People/Panel  

  • Ensure diversity of perspectives on Flex Fund organising Team and application reviewers  

The Call  

  • Require applicants to incorporate KCP in their applications. For example, interdisciplinary or other partners should hold positions of power or influence within the proposal and project, and applicants should demonstrate KCP methods/skills.   

The Process  

  • Building KCP partnerships takes time. Design an application process that recognises and allows for this.  
  • Ensure a diverse peer review panel  
  • Ensure application reviewers recognise the value of the research KCP process and associated ‘social capital’  
  • Ensure application reviewers value ‘actionable’ user-orientated outputs and outcomes not just academic publications  




Activity Matrix VII – Externally-Facing Training 

These suggested considerations and encouraged actions relate to the design and delivery of training activities (e.g. Masterclasses, Summer schools, Leadership College) open for attendance by those within and beyond ACCESS 


Environmental Sustainability  Equality, Diversity & Inclusion  Knowledge Co-Production 
  • Embed training about environmental sustainability into Summer Schools and Leadership College 
  • Reflect on tensions between benefits and trade-offs for sustainability in terms of offering a mix of in-person, hybrid and virtual events 
  • For in-person events, consider the use of resources such as catering, energy, and equipment and materials; pro-actively engage in conversations with venues about these issues 


  • Embed training about EDI into Summer Schools and Leadership College 
  • Provide a mix of online, hybrid and in-person training events to support diversity of need in terms of accessing training 
  • Ensure training videos produced by ACCESS are as much as possible supported with subtitles / British Sign Language 
  • Ensure diversity of trainers and presenters in training programmes   
  • Provide financial support to enable in-person attendance at ACCESS’s paid-for training events (e.g. Leadership College, Summer Schools) 
  • Embed training about KCP into Summer Schools and Leadership College  
  • Raise awareness of KCP as an ethos and practice that is increasingly foregrounded in research, policy, practice.   
  • Adopt KCP principles when designing and delivering training programmes 



Activity Matrix VIII – People Development within ACCESS 

These suggested considerations and encouraged actions relate to activities designed to support the development of ACCESS-employed early career researchers (ECRs) (and others??) across ACCESS, as well as acting as prompts for more experienced colleagues to reflect on their own personal and professional development. 


Environmental Sustainability  Equality, Diversity & Inclusion  Knowledge Co-Production 
  • Engage with training about conducting low-impact research, training and practices 
  • Engage with training about EDI best practice 
  • Support development and career progression of ECR Fellows in ACCESS by providing funds for conference attendance by our ECRs and making them members of the ACCESS leadership College   
  • Ensure each ECR has regular meetings with a senior colleague which include discussion of workload issues and wellbeing 
  • Engage with training about KCP to develop understanding and practical KCP skills  
  • Explore critical (academic) and practical (‘How to’) literature 
  • Explore opportunities to strengthen KCP partnerships and networks though knowledge exchange placements 
  • Embed KCP approaches in development of tailored mentoring scheme for ACCESS ECRs 


Activity Matrix IX – Research Activities 

These suggested considerations and encouraged actions relate to the design and conduct of research activities within ACCESS 


Environmental Sustainability  Equality, Diversity & Inclusion  Knowledge Co-Production 
  • Consider how your choice of topic/research question can contribute to environmental sustainability 
  • Consult wider literature on how to reduce the impact of everyday research practices, as relevant to your own methods 
  • When planning and budgeting for travel, consider relative pros and cons to balance the mix of online and in-person attendance at e.g., team meetings, conferences etc., 
  • Consider incorporating evaluations of environmental impact of your research activities 
  • Critique ourselves as scholars and decolonise our reference lists  
  • Engage with open research principles to ensure project outputs are widely accessible (e.g. publish datasets, pre-prints, open access journal articles) 
  • Actively consider our sampling and recruitment processes to include a diversity of participants 
  • Practice reflexivity; for example, openly acknowledge any limitations with sample diversity, situate study within its context, consider power dynamics within research team, reflect on researcher positionality 
  • Recognise that when done well KCP produces more equitable and actionable knowledge 
  • Identify and involve knowledge co-producers at the earliest opportunity 
  • Collectively discuss and determine key research questions and project goals 
  • Discuss and agree the practicalities of your collaboration: i.e. time, resources, respective responsibilities 
  • Ensure dialogue is ongoing and respectful of different perspectives  
  • Be mindful of and address power imbalances 
  • Allow joint ownership of key decisions 
  • Value the process and work at relationship building 
  • Be flexible and reflexive  


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