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Introduction to participatory action research

Introduction to participatory action research
This is a valuable qualitative research method combining participatory research and action research.



Participatory Action Research (PAR) is a type of research that combines two different approaches: participatory research and action research. It is a valuable qualitative method because it empowers and involves individuals and communities in the research process, and in taking actions to improve aspects of their lives. Researchers using PAR aim to enable action on the part of the participants, and do so via a reflective process where the participants collect and analyse data, and then determine what action should be taken. When participants and researchers are equal partners in the research process, the study’s focus and results can be made more relevant to a specific community. However, in PAR there are also challenges in terms of how researchers form and maintain relationships with participants, how the data is constructed and used, and who has ownership of the data.

This introductory course provides skills on how to conduct Participatory Action Research (PAR). It provides an introduction to PAR and its origins, history and theories. It explores the stages that must be followed in designing PAR, and the practicalities of doing so. Through a collaborative practical exercise, participants will be able to gain experience of designing their own PAR project.



By the end of the course, participants will have knowledge of the origin, history and theories of PAR and how it relates to qualitative methods. They will also be able to conduct their own PAR study following the various ‘stages’ of PAR. They will be aware of the ethical and practical considerations of PAR, including working as a team and building rapport with participants and communities involved in a PAR study.



During the course we will cover:


  • PAR as a qualitative research method.
  • The origins, history and theories of PAR.
  • The ‘principles’ of PAR
  • What constitutes ‘research’ in PAR?
  • The ‘stages’ of the PAR process.
  • Working as a team: power and building rapport with participants.
  • Ensuring rigour.
  • Ethical considerations.
  • Practical activity: designing a PAR study.

Who will benefit

This introductory course will be of value to researchers who already have a basic understanding of qualitative research methods but who wish to delve into the method of PAR, and to involve and empower individuals and communities in their research projects.


Learning outcomes

  • Understand the principles of PAR, including how it combines participatory research with action research.
  • Have knowledge of the theories and methods of PAR.
  • A practical exercise will enable participants to be able to design their own PAR study.
  •  Be aware of the various stages that must be followed when designing a PAR study.
  •  Have an awareness of the ethical considerations which must be made in a PAR study.

Course tutor

Dr Karen Lumsden is Associate Professor in Criminology at the University of Leicester and has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Aberdeen. She has experience teaching qualitative research methods at postgraduate level and to academics and practitioners. This includes courses at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, University of Aberdeen, University of Glasgow, University of Essex and Kingston University, and for the Social Research Association. Karen has also designed and delivered social research methods training for police officers and staff via the East Midlands Policing Academic Collaboration (EMPAC). She was lead of their Victims, Witnesses & Public Protection Network. She has authored a number of academic books and journal articles in the areas of sociology and criminology, and on research methods.


  This course contributes 6 hours to the MRS CPD programme

Cancellation policy: Full refund if cancelled 21 days or more from the course date.  No refund if cancelled 20 days or fewer from the course date.

9/25/2019 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM
GMT Standard Time
National Council for Voluntary Organisaitons (NCVO Society Building 8 All Saints Street LONDON N1 9RL UNITED KINGDOM

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