Revealing the (enabling) Matrix, by Dr Diana Ramsey, ARC KSS Darzi Fellow (University of Kent).

It’s now been four months since I started work with the ARC KSS as a Darzi Fellow. During this time, I’ve had the privilege of talking to many people involved in research in numerous areas and organisations in Kent, Surrey and Sussex. My primary aim has been to ask them about my project focus in the ARCKSS, namely addressing the question, how do we build research capacity among teams in health and social care (H&SC), bearing in mind that we know the issues? As a result of these meetings, I’ve taken a journey into what I’ve come to view as the enabling Matrix from the film of the same name.

My journey, through talking with people and following their recommendations, has led to the discovery of a different world of conjoining networks, ARC member organisations, funding providers and pathways. These have been helpfully described by one member of the ARC as a “web” of research connectivity as well as a challenging labyrinth to navigate by early career researchers.

As a clinician stepping out of a practice for a year, I have at times felt a bit like Neo in The Matrix discovering an alternative world view although, thankfully, not malevolent but instead enabling and supportive in relation to research growth. However, crucially separated by design from organisations like mine as they sit outside, physically and virtually from where workforces spend their days and meet the priorities of the people they serve. What I’ve witnessed is that a small number of H&SC professionals, like Neo, who identify and seek out the ARC and other research networks and navigate across the divide to connect to the network and similarly researchers and networks reach into practice. 

The challenge, I perceive, we face is how do we make this enabling matrix visible and strategically engaged when so many H&SC professionals’ eyes are on the day to day demands on the ground? Unlike the film The Matrix (metaphors always fall down at some point!) those of us that have made connection are not staging a rebellion but, by navigating both worlds, have the potential to signpost to others. To make visible the routes into the enabling Matrix and by doing so, we could see a growth in applied research among H&SC teams in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.  This is the pursuit that I have in focus for the remainder of my fellowship with the ARC KSS.

I’d like to thank everyone who has kindly and patiently spent time with me. I’ve learnt so much from their insight, knowledge and commitment to applied research.


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