Common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) underwater 

What is a researcher in residence?

A Researcher-in-Residence (RiR) or embedded researcher is a university employed and supervised researcher who is placed within the system that they are evaluating or researching, either virtually or via co-location. 
This model allows co-design and co-undertaking of studies that are of real benefit to the systems and stakeholders they work with. A balance is created between ‘research’ and ‘evaluation’, and ‘relevance’ and ‘rigour’: agendas are set locally, resources and capacity for mutual learning are pooled, insights are more contextually rich, feedback is faster than traditional research programmes, allowing for rapid response and live changes to systems; yet rigour is maintained via University standards, and mixed methodological approaches.
Embedded research ‘anchors’ partnerships between Universities and Voluntary/Public Services to create social value with local communities to mutual benefit of a local knowledge economy.
RiR's are comparable in many ways to the octopus - a fascinating and underrated creature. Both share skills and qualities that help with adapting to situations and creating solutions, such as resilience, intelligence, flexible learning, and the ability to utilise different tools and environments to overcome problems. 

Researcher in residence peer group

Being an RiR is an exciting role in a still developing methodological space.
Researchers in residence can draw on existing data and knowledge within systems, and both formal interview and patient record data, and on traditional ethnographic observations: everything is data and some say RiRs ‘become the data’. 
An RiR ‘belongs’ to several teams: the university, the strategic level group within a system that has asked for an evaluation, the frontline workers in systems that they are evaluating, and the communities under study; but also, it can feel like they don’t fully belong to any team. To what extent is an RiR role objectively evaluating a system that is already in place, and to what extent are they contributing to a creating a better system?
Our friendly peer group meets monthly, giving RiRs a space to share ideas and working towards an methodological update.
If you’d like to join our group or find out more, please email

Recent projects using a researcher in residence approach

The RiR approach can be used in a range of research areas, including:
  • Integrated health and social care
  • Personalised care
  • Complex care
  • Implementation of complex projects
  • Social care
  • Patient voice and working with local communities
Additionally, RiR is compatible with a variety of research designs, such as:
  • Before & After studies
  • Natural experiments
  • Qualitative studies 
  • Surveys
  • Realist evaluation
  • Mixed methods
  • (feasibility) RCTs
  • Participatory methods

Additional related projects

Current research

A Realist Evaluation of an Approach to Implementing the Community Mental Health Framework (Charley Hobson-Merrett)
A Realist Evaluation of a Voluntary Sector Collaborative Approach to Improving Engagement with Statutory and Non-Statutory Mental Health Services (Charley Hobson-Merrett)
Population Health Management (PHM) Evaluation and Research (PHEMER) (Dr Julian Elston, Dr Felix Gradinger, Professor Richard Byng, Professor Sheena Asthana)
Understanding the high numbers of children in statutory care in Torbay: an engaged approach to supporting families and communities (Felicity Thomas, Tom El Hoss, Dr Felix Gradinger)

Our researchers

University of Plymouth collaborators

External collaborators