Participatory action research
|Participatory action research|
Participatory action research (PAR) is an approach to research in communities that emphasizes participation and action. It is an approach based on the principles of collaboration, dialogue, and reflection, in which both researchers and participants share power and work together to identify issues, create solutions, and evaluate outcomes. It is a process of community-led inquiry and action that involves stakeholders in the research process to identify problems, create and implement solutions, and evaluate results.
Example of participatory action research
- An example of participatory action research (PAR) is the research conducted by the Oakland Community Organizations (OCO) in California. OCO is a network of grassroots organizations that have organized to empower low-income and working-class communities of color in Oakland. In 2017, OCO conducted participatory action research to better understand the needs and concerns of the people it serves. Through a series of interviews and focus groups, OCO identified the top issues facing its communities, including access to affordable housing, economic justice, public safety, and public education. OCO then worked with its members to develop and implement solutions to these issues, such as launching a rent control campaign and creating a youth employment program. Finally, OCO evaluated the impact of its efforts and reported the results to the community.
- Another example of PAR is the work of the Asociación de Mujeres Indígenas de El Salvador (AMIES) in El Salvador. AMIES is a women's rights organization that works to promote the rights and visibility of Indigenous women in El Salvador. In 2018, AMIES conducted a participatory action research project to better understand the needs of Indigenous women in the country. Through a series of interviews, focus groups, and workshops, AMIES identified the key issues facing Indigenous women, including access to education, health care, and economic opportunities. AMIES then developed and implemented strategies to address these issues, such as launching a literacy program for Indigenous women and creating a micro-credit program for Indigenous entrepreneurs. Finally, AMIES evaluated the impact of its efforts and reported the results to the community.
Formula of participatory action research
Participatory action research (PAR) is a research approach that emphasizes collaboration between researchers and members of the community, with an emphasis on action and reflection. The PAR process includes the following four steps:
- Establishing a partnership: Establishing a partnership between the researchers and the community is the first step in PAR. This involves the researchers actively engaging with the community members, listening to their views, and building trust and relationships.
- Identifying problems and developing solutions: The second step is to identify problems and develop potential solutions. This involves conducting research and gathering data on the identified problems, and then working with community members to develop potential solutions to address the identified problems.
- Implementing solutions: The third step is to implement the solutions. This involves working with community members to put the solutions into practice and to evaluate the impact of the solutions.
- Evaluating outcomes: The fourth step is to evaluate the outcomes of the solutions. This involves assessing the impact of the solutions and working with community members to refine the solutions if necessary.
When to use participatory action research
Participatory action research can be used in a variety of contexts to create meaningful, collaborative, and lasting change. It is particularly well suited for situations in which the topics of investigation are complex, the power dynamics among stakeholders are imbalanced, and members of the community have a desire to take action. Some key applications of PAR include:
- Addressing inequity and oppression: PAR can help to identify and address inequitable power dynamics and oppressive systems, thus making it an ideal approach for social justice initiatives.
- Community-driven research and evaluation: PAR can be used to involve members of the community in the research process, allowing them to identify and prioritize research questions and evaluate the outcomes of research.
- Building capacity in community organizations: PAR can be used to build capacity within community organizations by engaging members in the research process and helping them to develop skills and knowledge.
- Creating meaningful change: PAR can be used to create meaningful, lasting change by involving stakeholders in the research process and empowering them to identify and implement solutions.
Types of participatory action research
Participatory action research (PAR) is an approach to research in communities that emphasizes participation and action. There are various types of PAR that can be used to identify problems, create solutions, and evaluate outcomes. These include:
- Appreciative Inquiry (AI) - This is a research process that uses positive and strengths-based inquiry to help people identify areas of focus and develop solutions.
- Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) - This approach aims to involve participants in learning activities and decision-making processes, allowing them to develop their own skills and knowledge in order to become active agents in the research process.
- Collaborative Action Research (CAR) - This is a research process that involves collaboration between researchers and participants in order to identify problems and develop solutions.
- Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) - This is a form of research that engages community members in all stages of the research process, from conception to implementation.
- Action Research (AR) - This is a form of research that focuses on applying research findings to improve practice in a given context.
- Social Action Research (SAR) - This is a form of research that seeks to identify and address social issues.
Steps of participatory action research
Participatory action research (PAR) is an approach to research in communities that emphasizes participation and action. It is a process of community-led inquiry and action that involves stakeholders in the research process to identify problems, create and implement solutions, and evaluate results. The following are the steps of participatory action research:
- Establish collaboration between the researcher and the community: This involves creating a trusting relationship between the researcher and the community, by engaging in conversations about their needs and assets, and building a shared understanding of the research process.
- Identify problems and develop research questions: This involves working with the community to identify the root causes of the problems they are facing and developing research questions that will help answer those questions.
- Collect data: This involves collecting data through interviews, surveys, observations, and other methods that will help answer the research questions.
- Analyze data: After the data has been collected, it must be analyzed in order to draw conclusions and identify patterns.
- Develop action plans: This involves working with the community to develop action plans that address the identified problems and fill any gaps in the data.
- Implement action plans: This involves implementing the action plans and monitoring the progress of the plans.
- Evaluate outcomes: This involves evaluating the outcomes of the action plans and identifying areas for improvement.
Advantages of participatory action research
Participatory action research (PAR) has many advantages. These include:
- Increased understanding of research topics by allowing for the voices of those directly affected by the research to be heard.
- The ability to create meaningful solutions to problems within the community, as community members take ownership of the research process.
- The potential to create lasting change in the community by providing a platform for collective action and collaboration.
- The potential to create a sense of solidarity within the community, as members develop an understanding of the issues at hand and a shared commitment to working together.
- The ability to create a more equitable research process, as community members are involved in all aspects of the research.
- The potential to create more meaningful research, as community members are able to provide insights and perspectives that may not be available to researchers on their own.
Limitations of participatory action research
Participatory action research (PAR) is an approach to research in communities that emphasizes participation and action. While PAR has many potential benefits, there are also some limitations that should be considered when using this approach. These limitations include the following:
- Time: PAR is a labor-intensive process that can take a significant amount of time to complete.
- Costs: PAR requires resources and funding to support the research process, which can be expensive.
- Expertise: Participatory action research often requires specialized skills and knowledge, which may be difficult to access in some communities.
- Power dynamics: Participants in PAR may have different levels of power and influence, which can affect the outcomes of the research.
- Interest: Not all participants may be equally committed to the process, which can lead to bias in the results.
- Sustainability: The solutions created through PAR may not be sustainable in the long term, as they may require ongoing support and resources.
Participatory action research (PAR) is an approach to research in communities that emphasizes participation and action. Other approaches related to participatory action research include:
- Community-based research (CBR): This approach involves the use of participatory methods to engage members of a community in a research process. Community-based research focuses on understanding the causes and consequences of social issues, and developing action plans and strategies based on the gathered information.
- Participatory learning and action (PLA): This approach involves the use of interactive and collaborative activities such as workshops, focus groups, and field visits to help people understand a problem and develop solutions to it. PLA focuses on building capacity and fostering a sense of ownership among participants.
- Participatory monitoring and evaluation (PME): This approach involves the use of qualitative and quantitative methods to measure the impact of a project or program. PME focuses on involving participants in the evaluation process in order to better understand the results and inform future project or program design.
In summary, Participatory Action Research is an approach to research in communities that emphasizes participation and action. Other related approaches include Community-based Research, Participatory Learning and Action, and Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation. Each of these approaches involve different methods and focus on different aspects of research, but all of them emphasize the importance of involving stakeholders in the research process.
- Baum, F., MacDougall, C., & Smith, D. (2006). Participatory action research. Journal of epidemiology and community health, 60(10), 854.