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Training the next generation of Research Consultants

Hands-on training for students at University College London on how to bring their valuable research skills to the real world 


Since 2021, the Community Research Clinic, a joint venture between the UCL Volunteering Service’s Community Research Initiative and Kohlrabi, has offered London’s small-to-medium sized charities, other non-profit organisations, and grassroots community groups the opportunity to access high quality research consultation to turn their ideas, hunches, and experiential knowledge into research projects.


This year more than 40 doctoral students from UCL participated in the workshop: 

  • In the first session, participants learnt what research consultancy is and how researchers at any level can embark on those opportunities. We used a game format to move through real-world consultancy scenarios, with students sharing ideas, strategies, and experiences to meet the challenges they encountered across the provided game board.

  • In the second session, trainee research consultants met their new clients at workstations set up around the room. Trainees used probing questions and active listening skills to develop initial project proposals with suggested outputs and milestones.

  • Participants had the opportunity to develop their skills in creative problem-solving, research methods, creating positive social impact, stakeholder management, and interpersonal skills. These are all transferable skills that bridge their PhD research and the practical application of research in real life.


The group work sparked enthusiastic and passionate conversations, filling the room with infectious energy. The knowledge sharing was powerful as students from around 40 different disciplines and leaders from various community organisations brought their perspectives to the table. After the training, the students understood that their consultancy work has an immediate impact. Their project proposals are developed into community-led research opportunities and delivered by hundreds of UCL’s master’s students as their thesis research. Projects range from collaborating with a voluntary group and local council to design safer, more accessible parks in Tottenham, to partnering with the charity Brook to help overcome the barriers young people face in accessing sexual health services.


"Thank you so much for the informative and helpful research consultancy workshop today - it was the first time I have felt guidance and support in my career in research outside of academia, making me feel much brighter about the future!"


Participant feedback

"The new skills I feel I acquired today include time management, risk factors, how to deliver a solution to a client, and teamwork! My take-home is that I can apply similar strategies that I do in my PhD to solve a community client's case in a totally different field.”


Participant feedback

"Kohlrabi showed students that research consultancy is within their grasp and, importantly, skill set. It was a powerful moment when all our trainees repeated out loud ‘I am a consultant’"

University College London

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