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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.

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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.

It should also be remembered that, while many people from marginalized groups may have limited verbal communication skills, they have developed other communication strategies.

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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: "1. 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.

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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: "Focus groups in survivor-controlled research set off a collective process whereby participants start to take ownership of the research.

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.

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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.


  • Participatory planning - Wikipedia;
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  • Sharon Ravitch.

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. And, above all:. 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.


  1. Certificate Program in Practice-Based Research Methods.
  2. An International Journal on Theory and Practice?
  3. Lessons learned: towards a framework for integration of theory and practice in academic development.
  4. Towards a Participatory Paradigm.
  5. Towards a Participatory Paradigm!
  6. 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.

    In Subsection 4.

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    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.

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    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.