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Participatory Research Methods

Definition of PAR

❶Despite the aforementioned diversity of data collection methods in participatory research, two procedures appear to be applied very frequently, namely interviews and focus groups.

Participation Action Research

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Barry explained that living educational theory LET "[It is] a critical and transformational approach to action research. It confronts the researcher to challenge the status quo of their educational practice and to answer the question, 'How can I improve that I'm doing?

The mission of the LET action researcher is to overcome workplace norms and self-behavior which contradict the researcher's values and beliefs. The vision of the LET researcher is to make an original contribution to knowledge through generating an educational theory proven to improve the learning of people within a social learning space. The standard of judgment for theory validity is evidence of workplace reform, transformational growth of the researcher, and improved learning by the people researcher claimed to have influenced French and Cecil Bell define organization development OD at one point as "organization improvement through action research".

Concerned with social change and, more particularly, with effective, permanent social change, Lewin believed that the motivation to change was strongly related to action: If people are active in decisions affecting them, they are more likely to adopt new ways. Lewin's description of the process of change involves three steps: Figure 1 summarizes the steps and processes involved in planned change through action research. Action research is depicted as a cyclical process of change.

Major adjustments and reevaluations would return the OD project to the first or planning stage for basic changes in the program. The action-research model shown in Figure 1 closely follows Lewin's repetitive cycle of planning, action, and measuring results. It also illustrates other aspects of Lewin's general model of change. As indicated in the diagram, the planning stage is a period of unfreezing, or problem awareness.

There is inevitable overlap between the stages, since the boundaries are not clear-cut and cannot be in a continuous process. The results stage is a period of refreezing, in which new behaviors are tried out on the job and, if successful and reinforcing, become a part of the system's repertoire of problem-solving behavior.

Action research is problem centered, client centered, and action oriented. It involves the client system in a diagnostic, active-learning, problem-finding and problem-solving process. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

For the academic journal titled Action Research, see Action Research journal. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.

This type of reflection is largely consistent with the concept of "epistemological reflexivity" employed by BORG By now, it is accepted also as a quality criterion in qualitative research—especially in ethnology. A considerable number of methodological proposals as to how such reflection can be fostered have already been made. To a certain extent, research with partners to whom the rituals of academic research are alien and unfamiliar—which is frequently the case in participatory research—calls for new methods of data collection.

The question of the "appropriateness of the method to the participants" is particularly relevant here. From a methodological perspective, the involvement of field partners as co-researchers in the data collection process has various advantages and disadvantages, each of which must be carefully considered. One major advantage is that the co-researchers have first-hand knowledge of the field.

Therefore, they understand the way people think and may be able to obtain better and faster access to the desired informants. This facilitates the discovery of "natural codes"—in the grounded theory sense of the word.

Methods of data collection should therefore build on the participants' everyday experiences. This makes it easier for them to understand the concrete procedures. However, it means that new methods of data collection must be developed that are appropriate to the concrete research situation and the research partners.

The range of methods to be found in the literature is very broad and depends greatly on the research field and the research partners in question. In our view, therefore, it makes little sense to standardize methods of data collection. Rather, it is necessary to follow the Glaserian dictum: It should also be remembered that, while many people from marginalized groups may have limited verbal communication skills, they have developed other communication strategies.

In recent years, the many possibilities of using visual and performative methods of data collection and representation have been discussed in qualitative social research. These procedures have been documented, for example, in three thematic issues of FQS devoted to 1. It is therefore not necessary to go into detail here. However, we would stress the point made by RATH that, when choosing methods, the previous experiences of the research partners should be specifically addressed.

It can be difficult for people who have never had anything to do with research to understand the various methodological procedures. Therefore, special training programs are needed to enable them to carry out the procedures applied within the framework of the project.

Hella von UNGER reports, for example, that capacity building on the part of research partners represents a core aim in community-based participatory research. It is interesting that, in this way, the participants develop not only specialized competencies required for participation in the research process, but also more general competencies, all of which contribute to personal development.

Despite the aforementioned diversity of data collection methods in participatory research, two procedures appear to be applied very frequently, namely interviews and focus groups. We shall now address certain aspects of these two procedures that are particularly visible in the participative approach but are not often mentioned in discussions on qualitative methods. The interviews conducted within the framework of participatory research are normally semi-structured—a type frequently used in qualitative research.

Experience has shown that, after appropriate training, the various research partners are well able to conduct these interviews—generally in teams of two. In the participatory research situation, it can be clearly seen that the outcome of an interview must be perceived as a situation-dependent co-construction on the part of the interview partners see McCARTAN et al.

This has already been discussed in the qualitative research literature. The author does not perceive communication between two partners as a dyad, but rather as part of a much larger system of communication. She adapts Haley's system of communication as follows: I the sender , 2. In our view, these considerations are of considerable relevance to participatory research because, here, the virtual presence of the participating community must always be borne in mind. RATH incorporates this notion into her study, although she derives it from a different theoretical background.

In view of the imagined listeners, she contends that an interview is not purely a private conversation between the interview partners, but that it is, in a sense, public. The second instrument that is frequently used within the framework of participatory research is the focus group. This label stands for a lot of different procedures.

The common denominator is that a group of different types of research participants is formed, and that these participants are given the opportunity to enter into conversation with each other in a safe setting and to deal with aspects of the project. It can be said that the focus group is one of the key instruments for the creation of a "communicative space" see Subsection 3. In the best case, all relevant issues are discussed. This open dialog becomes the central starting point for the entire participatory research enterprise.

However, focus groups can also assume other tasks. For example, if participants do not hail from the same context, focus groups offer them an opportunity to get to know each other RUSSO, Moreover, together with other methods of data collection, focus groups can make a taboo theme known in the community and "get things moving" there v.

In teams of professionals, they can facilitate frank exchanges between the team members BORG et al. They also frequently serve to collect data because in the open and—ideally—relaxed atmosphere, it is easier to address taboo themes v. This applies particularly to participatory research because it ensures that the various perspectives flow into the interpretation during the data analysis process and that the research partners gain an insight into the background to their own viewpoints and that of the other members.

It is not surprising, therefore, that a number of authors in the present special issue report that data were analyzed in focus groups together with the research partners BORG et al. For similar reasons, the research findings are also discussed in focus groups.

RUSSO points out that it is possible to validate findings communicatively in focus groups and that other effects can be observed at the same time: Hence focus groups can be considered as an instrument that encourages this process of appropriation. The representation of participatory research findings also has a number of distinctive features.

Above all, the multi-perspectivity and multivocality must be preserved in the representation of the results v. In traditional academic writing, authors stay in the background. It is considered somewhat unscientific to write a text in the first person. Indeed, in some cases, authors consistently refer to themselves in the third person. The required distance is symbolized by this third person, and the impression is given that the statements made are "objective.

As a rule, the texts aspire to be unequivocal and to follow scientific logic. In participatory research, by contrast, the various contributions to the results must be clearly visible. In their publication, all participants in the study were given a chance to voice their opinions and positions.

In the present issue, RATH takes a more radical step. She uses poetry to make "the emotional" visible; to highlight the constructed nature of texts; and to challenge the conviction that knowledge derived from academic texts is "certain.

However, the representation of the results of participatory research cannot be limited to texts. In order to render the findings understandable to affected persons, to give them a basis for further discussion, and to reach a wide audience, other forms of representation are needed.

When discussing data collection Subsection 4. The application of such procedures in the representation stage, too, can make the research findings easier to understand. Nowadays, participatory research strategies are accepted—or even desired—in many practice contexts. In academia, by contrast, participatory research enjoys much less recognition as a fully fledged research method. If at all, it is perceived as a strategy in the "context of discovery.

Participatory researchers do not formulate hypotheses that can subsequently be tested, and even the research questions emerge only gradually during the process of engagement with the research partners. The closeness between the research partners prevents scientific distance on the part of the academic researchers, who are so entangled with the researched persons that it is not possible to separate the researchers' contribution to the collected data from that of the researched; hence the quality criterion of objectivity cannot be fulfilled.

Exact planning is not possible because the negotiation of the various decisions during the research process prevents the estimation of the duration of the project and the expected findings. When "classical" quality criteria are applied, the research is not acceptable because it is neither objective, nor reliable, nor is it valid.

From the perspective of a methodology that invokes the normative theory of science, these arguments are by all means accurate. Although the standpoint outlined above is more widespread in some disciplines than in others, it dominates the science sector both in the universities, when it comes to assessing theses, dissertations, etc.

This problem is faced by qualitative research in general. However, one outcome of the long-standing debate between the "exact" sciences and the humanities about the "object of science" is that interpretivist methods are increasingly being accepted as a basis for concrete research. This can be seen, for example, from the fact that qualitative approaches enjoy greater acceptance in certain disciplines, for example sociology and ethnology.

That said, the aforementioned closeness between research partners in participatory research—and the skepticism that this provokes from some quarters—means that it has not been able to benefit as much from the increased acceptance as "conventional" qualitative research has done.

The dissolution of the subject-object relationship between the researchers and the researched is a further grave problem for the academic recognition of participatory research.

In participatory research projects, the role of active researcher—and knowing subject—is not held by the academic researchers alone but by all the participants, with all the consequences that this brings for data collection, analysis, interpretation, and the publication of the findings. This leads to considerable acceptance problems when it comes to research funding. These problems start with the tendering period, which is often quite short. As a result, it is not possible to develop the research proposal collaboratively because negotiation processes with affected persons take much longer.

In most cases, a reviewer's assessment of the quality of a project is based on the aforementioned nomothetic science model. However, as a result, requirements are imposed that either cannot be fulfilled by participatory research, or that lead to nonsensical restrictions. This starts with the said research questions, which can be formulated only vaguely or in general terms before the project begins. Other characteristics of participatory research also hamper acceptance.

It is scarcely possible to produce an exact timetable because the duration of the negotiation processes among the research partners cannot be accurately forecast. All that is clear is that the overall life-span of such a research project frequently exceeds the normally expected timeframe for funded projects see COOK, Certain items in the finance plan also meet with rejection by funding bodies. However, such items in the finance plan are frequently rejected by the funders.

The situation is similar at the universities, where it is very difficult for a young scientist to submit a thesis or dissertation that employs participatory research strategies. Moreover, it is scarcely possible to produce the exact timetables required by universities. In addition, the number of reviewers who are in a position to assess such works is limited. This depends, once again, on the discipline in question. At the present point in time, it is almost impossible to gain a doctorate in psychology in Germany with a thesis based on participatory methodology.

The problem of forging an academic career is further aggravated by the fact that projects with research partners who are practitioners or affected persons is much more time-consuming because extensive discussions must be conducted with them. This means that the production of scientific works lasts much longer and, as a result, the researcher's list of publications is shorter.

Moreover, for the reasons stated above, few scholarly journals accept participatory works. Furthermore, marginalized groups are studied more frequently in participatory research projects, and these groups are not the focus of interest of "normal science. And because the Science Citation Index serves as an important indicator of scientific qualification, authors who apply participatory methods are disadvantaged. Overall, it can be noted that the current scientific structure is extremely unfavorable for participatory research projects.

In saying that, it cannot be disputed that it is sometimes very difficult to assess the quality and rigor of participatory projects. For these reasons, it will be very important for the future of participatory research to develop criteria that facilitate the assessment of such projects. On a more pragmatic level, COOK suggests, for example, that standardized application forms be developed.

However, there is undoubtedly considerable need for further development in this regard—and a more intense discussion of quality criteria will be of central importance. The problem of quality criteria for participatory research is regularly raised by a diverse range of stakeholders: In qualitative research, the question of appropriate quality criteria has been discussed at length, and various concepts have been proposed.

This discussion will not be pursued here. However, in our opinion, the question of quality criteria for participatory research reveals a number of underlying fundamental questions that are also of relevance to qualitative research in general. If one proceeds from the assumption that, in participatory research, all the perspectives and voices of the participants should be granted equal rights of expression, and that each group possesses qualitatively different knowledge about the social world under study, then it is to be expected that the participants will also have different views on the quality of the research process and its results.

In our opinion, the question of what constitutes "good" research findings is answered very differently by the various research participants, and also by those who review, assess, use, or read these findings. This response depends on the system of values and norms to which the particular stakeholders subscribe; on their individual interests; and on the discourse that takes place in the context in question. Therefore, when asked by a stakeholder whether, and to what extent, a concrete project corresponds to its values and interests, the researchers must furnish convincing arguments derived from that stakeholder's own discursive context.

The fact that diverse groups address the quality criteria question highlights the need for a more context-specific analysis of what is understood by "quality" in the sense of a good participatory research project. From the perspective of social constructivism—which can be drawn on here as a meta-theoretical approach GERGER, —the concept of "quality" in the social constructivist sense is a socially defined concept.

The constructions that arise in this way are then binding within the sphere of influence of these institutions or organizations until such time as they are revised. Within the framework of the present Introduction, we shall briefly demonstrate how this perspective can offer a starting point for tackling the problem of quality criteria in participatory research. To begin with, one must identify the various institutions and groups of participants to whom the participatory research project is accountable.

A review of the literature reveals that one can roughly state that participatory research projects are confronted with the task of demonstrating the quality of their work to such diverse social institutions as: In the course of the history of the western world, science has established itself as the social subsystem that judges whether something is "true," in the sense of correct knowledge.

However, participatory research is accountable to many social institutions for whom the criterion of "truth" in the scientific sense of the word is of only secondary importance.

Therefore, from now on we shall not refer to "quality criteria," but rather to justificatory arguments employed in the institutional or contextual discourses in question. We argue that, in the course of social development in the various social spheres of activity, different systems of communication and action with different justificatory norms have evolved. Therefore, the arguments used by researchers to justify a participatory research project and its findings must correspond to these structures because, otherwise, they will not be accepted.

In everyday research practice, these diverse justificatory requirements lead to considerable difficulties because their systematic dissimilarity is not recognized. Rather, they are experienced as incompatible demands that can scarcely be adequately responded to at the one time.

This can be clearly seen in a number of contributions to the present special issue. On the basis of four examples derived from these articles, we shall outline the consequences that such diverse, subsystem-specific justificatory structures have.

It should be borne in mind that the participatory projects presented to scientific committees have been developed against the background of justificatory arguments and, above all, values that come from social contexts that differ greatly from the science world. The resulting justificatory arguments do not correspond to the "classical" quality criteria that can be considered to be a context-specific justificatory argument within the science system.

Therefore, compatibility of the justificatory argument structures in the various discursive contexts can be expected in the long term only if efforts to extend the academic code are successful.

The debate on the acceptance of qualitative research methods could be considered an example of such efforts. The importance of the political system becomes very clear in the article by Sylvia LENZ , who highlights the incompatibility between dictatorship and participatory research. There can be no justificatory arguments for this particular political context without fundamentally denying the participatory research approach. This is an extreme example, but even in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany and other western countries there have been political constellations in which the justificatory arguments for participatory research have encountered acceptance problems because of their incompatibility with political policy programs.

For example, the justificatory arguments of research projects are accepted by state research funding programs only if they fit in with the prevailing political values. Another social sphere discussed in the present special issue is that of conventional medicine. Here, too, the consequences of incompatible justificatory arguments are highlighted.

Research by people who have experienced psychiatric treatment "survivor research" , for example, explicitly aims at the development of an alternative to the dominant biomedical model of mental "illnesses" RUSSO, As the alternative model is based on personal experiences, the justificatory arguments are not compatible with the biomedical model. Such research is frequently dismissed as "unscientific" and "subjective" by conventional medicine, and its findings are not incorporated into the canon of knowledge of the discipline.

The economic system is defined by the allocation or non-allocation of resources in the form of money. This is particularly striking in the case of psychiatric research funded by the pharmaceutical industry—an example furnished by RUSSO This research aims at the development of marketable pharmaceutical products.

The author notes that the massive funding of research by the pharmaceutical industry has led to the dominance of the biomedical model of mental illness. By contrast, the development of alternative models from the perspective of the affected persons is hampered by lack of funding due to the fact that the justificatory arguments advanced do not comply with the central goal of the economic market model espoused by the pharmaceutical industry—that is, profit maximization. Therefore, the answer to the question of who funds or rejects a research project, and what interests are behind the decision, must also be part of the statements on the quality of a research project.

The considerations presented here are in line with the current debate on quality research. FLICK also argues that the quality criteria in qualitative research should be context-specific. However, the contexts that he has in mind differ from those used here.

In his opinion, the relevant contexts are "on the one hand theoretical and methodological schools," and "on the other hand, in recent years, the differentiation of the various fields of application of qualitative research" p.

They note that the "relevant discursive contexts The authors propose a strategy of clarification that entails acknowledging and developing the broad range of arguments and examining the importance of the social and scientific contexts for scientific activities. In our view, it would also be worthwhile to analyze the requirements of justification of the various social institutions more closely in the manner described above in order to achieve a systematic conceptualization of these requirements and a more specific assessment of the extent to which individual qualitative and participatory projects must be justified in the context of specific social institutions.

Against the background of such considerations, justificatory arguments such as usefulness, authenticity, credibility, reflexivity, and sustainability should be discussed. Participatory researchers are particularly called upon to address ethical questions. The closeness to the research partners during participatory projects repeatedly requires ethically sound decisions about the norms and rules that should apply in social dealings among the participants; about how data should be collected, documented, and interpreted in such a way that they do not harm the participants and that their privacy is assured; and about the reliability, duration, and timeframe of the professional researchers' availability, etc.

Participatory Action Research as a Process and as a Goal. Human Relations, 46 2 , Participatory Action Research Video Presentation. Working with migrant communities: Handbook of action research: A personal position paper on participatory research: Personal quest for living knowledge. Qualitative Inquiry , 2 1: What is Participatory Action Research? Action Research International, Paper 2.

Post on this Paper. Thanks so much for keeping this blog active. I just completed a online seminar for a course that I am taking on adult education in the global context.


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Participatory Research Methods: A Methodological Approach in Motion. Jarg Bergold & Stefan Thomas. Prototypes of this kind of research in English-speaking countries include participatory action research (PAR), co-operative inquiry, and participatory evaluation; examples in German-speaking countries are action research and practice research.

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Participatory Action Research (PAR) is a qualitative research methodology option that requires further understanding and consideration. PAR is considered democratic, equitable, liberating, and life-enhancing qualitative inquiry that remains distinct from other qualitative methodologies (Kach & .

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Participatory action research (PAR) differs from most other approaches to public health research because it is based on reflection, data collection, and action that aims to improve health and reduce health inequities through involving the people who, in turn, take actions to improve their own health. Research methodology is a strategy or. These included focus groups and multi stakeholder meetings, participatory inquiry, action research, oral testimonies and story collection as a foundation for collective analysis, photo- digital stories, photovoice, drawing and essay writing competitions, participatory video, and immersions. Learn more about the participatory research methods.

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MethodSpace is a multidimensional online network for the community of researchers, from students to professors, engaged in research methods. Sponsored by SAGE Publishing, a leading publisher of books and journals in research methods, the site is created for students and researchers to network and share research, resources and debates. Participatory Action Research (PAR) introduces a method that is ideal for researchers who are committed to co-developing research programs with people rather than for people. The book provides a history of this technique, its various strands, and the underlying tenets that guide most projects.