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
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.
- 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.
Dr Karen Lumsden is currently Assistant Professor in Criminology at the University of Nottingham and has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Aberdeen. She has over 15 years experience teaching qualitative research methods at postgraduate level and to academics and practitioners. This includes courses at the 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) and for research consultancies. She has authored a number of academic books and journal articles in the areas of sociology and criminology, and on qualitative research methods. Karen is also Chair of the Editorial Board of Sociological Research Online.
This course contributes 6 hours to the MRS CPD programme