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Action research

Definition of PAR

❶In 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.

Participation Action Research

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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. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. January Learn how and when to remove this template message. Action research Fourth ed. All you need to know about action research. John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

International Journal of Science , Vol. By contrast, in the s and in earlier decades, very little research using PAR was reported in health journals. Through the s more participatory research was reported and textbooks including PAR became more common.

The project built on and strengthened existing women's networks and the staff played the part of facilitators rather than educators. A community action cycle was developed whereby problems were identified and prioritised, joint planning took place, and the plan was implemented and then evaluated in a participatory way. The project developed innovative and engaging ways for staff and community members to work together effectively.

Recently PAR has been used more frequently in rich countries. In mental health research, for instance, PAR has been used in response to the survivor's movement and demands for a voice in planning and running services and to stimulate choices and alternative forms of treatment. PAR is increasingly recognised as useful in Indigenous health research, both internationally 20 , 21 and in Australia. It does this by avoiding some of the criticisms made of health research including: An example of the application of PAR in a remote Aboriginal Australian community is the work to support a men's self help group to plan, implement, and evaluate their activities.

For instance most public health academic units assess their academic researchers' suitability for promotion according to the number of peer reviewed journal articles. The ability of a researcher to engage with communities and bring about real change to their quality of life and health status rarely counts. The global research community is already being urged to adapt its grant assessment methods and its assessment of research performance to ensure that the engaged processes typical of PAR are valued and encouraged.

PAR also requires health researchers to work in close partnership with civil society and health policy makers and practitioners. This requires each of these players to learn methods of working together effectively and to manage the different and sometimes competing agendas of the partners. The focus of the research partners should also be on health improvement for the community involved. Participation has been central to improving health since the WHO Health for All Strategy and its importance to health promotion strategies has been reinforced by subsequent statements on health promotion.

Associated methods are rapid assessment methods and rapid rural appraisal both of which aim to produce knowledge that combines professional and community perspectives. Power is a crucial underpinning concept to PAR.

PAR aims to achieve empowerment of those involved. Labonte 34 conceptualises empowerment as a shifting or dynamic quality of power relations between two or more people; such that the relationship tends towards equity by reducing inequalities and power differences in access to resources. Power itself is an elusive concept about which there has been considerable discussion. Foucault's position is particularly relevant to PAR because he sees power as something that results from the interactions between people, from the practices of institutions, and from the exercise of different forms of knowledge.

When communities seek control of research agendas, and seek to be active in research, they are establishing themselves as more powerful agents. In health services and public health initiatives in recent years community members and consumers have gained more power over the practices of institutions and the production of knowledge.

Developments in participation have implications for health services and public health organisations that, if they are to be true to the principles of participation, must initiate organisational change to improve their capacity to work in partnership with a wide variety of communities. Many dilemmas of the PAR approach revolve around contested power dynamics in research relationships.

PAR stands in contrast with what Husserl quoted in Crotty 39 describes as the mathematisation of the scientific world by Galileo, for whom the real properties of things were only those that could be measured, counted, and quantified. Husserl argued that the scientific world is an abstraction from the lived world, or the world we experience.

This scientific world is systematic and well organised, unlike the uncertain, ambiguous, idiosyncratic world we know at first hand. Experiences are not from a sphere of subjective reality separate from an external, objective world.

Rather they enable humans to engage with their world and unite subject and object. Crotty 42 argues that while interpretivists place confidence in the authentic accounts of lived experience that they turn up in their research, this is not enough for critical theorists who see in these accounts voices of an inherited tradition and prevailing culture. Critical theorists use critical reflection on social reality to take action for change by radically calling into question the cultures that they study.

This critical edge is central to PAR. PAR draws heavily on Paulo Freire's epistemology that rejects both the view that consciousness is a copy of external reality and the solipsist argument that the world is a creation of consciousness. For Freire, human consciousness brings a reflection on material reality, whereby critical reflection is already action.

Freire's concept of praxis flows from the position that action and reflection are indissolubly united: When action and reflection take place at the same time they become creative and mutually illuminate each other. Thanks to our reviewers—Valery Ridde, Ruth Balogh, and one anonymous. 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.

The necessity for an ethical basis for such decisions becomes clear against the background of the fact—reported in various articles in this issue—that participatory research is always in danger of being used by very different parties for purposes that contradict its postulated fundamental concept.

On the one hand, the offer of involvement and participation in decisions can be used to entice people who normally do not have such possibilities to work in research projects. This is considered to be a way of gaining easier access to groups who have a critical view of research.

The danger of misuse of participatory methods exists in evaluation research, for example. On the other hand, trust, and the closeness it engenders, facilitate access to deeper, and perhaps taboo, layers—both in the minds of the participants and in the life-world. Here the danger of transgression and, therefore, of serious damage is always acute.

It is especially those who have years of experience of research, and who perceive it as being directed partly against their interests, who will insist that ethical norms be adhered to. These action effects include:. Different value preferences with regard to these decisions also lead to conflicts and confrontation between the research partners and within the community under study. The research project and the publication of the results can have considerable negative consequences for the research participants.

They describe how the British tabloid press used government reports of research findings about teenage pregnancy to publish sensationalist reports. Neither the researchers nor the research funders can exercise sufficient control over the way findings are reported.

Therefore, it is always necessary to reflect with the affected persons about what can happen when hitherto invisible, taboo problems are made public. However, the concrete consequences can scarcely be foreseen. This gives rise to the dilemma of having to choose whether to defer the publication of problems that are in urgent need of public discussion or to publish them for that very reason.

If the latter option is chosen, counter-strategies must be developed with the research partners. The cooperation with her was most pleasant. She helped to transform our typical German writing into understandable English. Working with her was a real participative experience.

As far as we are aware, no studies have yet been conducted on changes in disposition in the course of participatory research projects.

A ladder of citizen participation. Journal of the American Planning Association , 35 4 , Factors related to self-rated participation in adolescents and adults with mild intellectual disability—A systematic literature review. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities , 21 , Visualising migration and social division: Insights from social sciences and the visual arts. Qualitative Social Research , 11 2 , http: Comparative similarities and differences between action research, participative research, and participatory action research , http: Participatory strategies in community psychology research—a short survey.

Proceedings from the 6th European Conference on Community Psychology pp. Opening up for many voices in knowledge construction. Qualitative Social Research , 13 1 , Art. In Reinhard Kreckel Ed. Sonderband 2 der sozialen Welt pp. Standards of social research. Qualitative Social Research , 2 3 , Art.

Partizipative Evaluationsmethoden—zur Entmystifizierung eines Begriffs in der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit. In Uwe Flick Ed. Konzepte, Methoden, Umsetzungen pp. Participative inquiry and practice 2nd ed. Von der Psychoanalyse zur themenzentrierten Interaktion.


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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.