Wednesday, October 5

Things to Know About Participatory Research

Participatory research is a kind of research in collaboration with the population, not on the population. The most important part of this research is interaction with the population. Your target population will choose research questions, design the study, and address the concerns. It combines scientific investigation with educational or political actions.

Researchers work with community members to solve the common problems of the community. Other objectives also include empowering the community and democratizing the research. This type of research is normally done on common community issues. These issues include polluted water supplies and school curriculum. It also includes other common issues of society such as unemployment, working conditions, and unionization. Five properties can characterize participatory research, which includes;

  • Participation by the people
  • Inclusion of popular knowledge in research
  • Focus on empowerment
  • Education of the participants
  • Political action

Each group can carry out its research using its methods. Community members have a significant impact on defining the research problem. They help to determine the overall design of the study. Moreover, participatory researchers confirm popular knowledge and feelings. Researchers must respect the views and knowledge of their community. People understand many aspects of their current situations better than outsiders.

Issues in Participatory Research

Researchers often face two issues that underlie all the problems.

  1. The relation between researcher and researched
  2. The tensions between being politically active academic objectives

Relation between researchers and researched

The relation between researcher and researched is tense at each stage of the study.  The researcher must consider what segments of the community will take part in the study. He should also consider the level of knowledge and understanding of the participants. Although researchers sometimes talk about oppressed and poor people in the community. Due to the complexion and internal stratification of the communities. Poor and powerless people are difficult to include.

In the next stage of the study, the power of the researcher and researched is also problematic. Researchers acquire specific skills, more time, and money to facilitate the study. Therefore they can take more responsibility and power in the project. Conflicts occur during group discussions when validating the participant’s knowledge and power.

When the project moves to the stage of designing, the researcher has more power. Because people don’t have enough skills or knowledge to carry out the design process. If the participants want to design the project, they should be given extended classes first. As the skills and level of knowledge of the masses are not equal to the researchers. Otherwise, the entire control of the research will be in the hands of the researcher. Community members will then perform as consultants or trained research assistants. In this case, the community members should have the power to set the agenda of research.

The conflict between involvement versus academic objectivity

According to a PhD dissertation writing service, the conflict between activism and academic objectivity is another source of the problem. On the one hand, involved researchers produce useful knowledge. On the other hand, research methods like surveys and interviews contribute to political action. Participatory researches face many problems in producing knowledge valuable to the academic community.  

Participatory Research Methods

A research method is a means of data collection and data generation. Research methods are of two types, qualitative and quantitative methods. Quantitative research methods include surveys and questionnaires. At the same time, qualitative methods include focus groups, interviews etc. Sometimes, researchers also use a combination of the two methods. Research methods vary and can include visual, verbal and active strategies. 

Within research, you may choose multiple methods suitable for your study. It depends upon the goals and objectives of your campaign. Some of the participatory research methods are:

Surveys & questionnaires

Surveys and questionnaires are two similar data collection techniques. They may comprise a group of questions to be typed or written down. These are then sent to the participants for responses. These are designed for statistical analysis of the responses. These methods are effective. Especially when the collection of data takes place from a variety of populations. The population takes part in the study and give their opinion.

In this particular method, participants control the results of the research and have power over the researcher.

Pros

  • Enough time to response
  • Free from the biases of the researcher
  • Cheaper as compared to interviews

Cons

  • High rate of non-response biases
  • Inflexible and can’t change the response once sent
  • Slow process

Focus groups

A Focus group is a gathering to collect data. In this type, two or more people with similar attributes are gathered together. Data collection occurs through a semi-structured, group interview process. Through this method, the researcher collects data on a specific topic. The purpose of the focus group discussion is to get in-depth concepts of the group.

They seek open-ended thoughts and contributions from the participants. Researchers use this type in participatory type researches. For example, a group of market consumers engage in a discussion. Data is collected through discussion with participants. This is somewhat related to the interview. But this involves discussions and interactions instead of questions and answers.

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Takes lesser time

Cons

  • It does not mirror individual opinions
  • Response biases

There are many methods that researchers can employ for participatory research. It depends upon the nature of the research.

Conclusion

The focus on participatory research is mandatory to produce true knowledge. Researchers should engage stakeholders and communities et each step of the research. These kinds of interactions allow research to benefit from the wisdom of communities and researchers.

It is important to remain in touch with the communities to produce impactful research. Participatory researches strengthen the researcher-community bond. This bond is vital for the growth of society in a positive manner. The key difference between participatory research and conventional research lies in power. Researchers have less power in participatory researches instead of scientific researches.

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