Participatory Research Methods

What is participatory research?

Participatory research comprises a range of methodological approaches and techniques, all with the objective of handing power from the researcher to research participants, who are often community members or community-based organisations. In participatory research, participants have control over the research agenda, the process and actions. Most importantly, people themselves are the ones who analyse and reflect on the information generated, in order to obtain the findings and conclusions of the research process. Palestinian women share their stories with the world through participatory film-making: Credit: MEND 2013

Participatory research involves inquiry, but also action. People not only discuss their problems, they also think about possible solutions to them and actions which need to be taken. The research conducted by the Participatory Research Group (PRG) aims to influence decision-making processes and impact peoples’ lives locally and nationally. The challenge is that the views of the most marginalised people are by definition largely absent in public forums, which further excludes them and in turn amplifies the perspectives of the more powerful groups. Bringing these people and perspectives into policy processes is not a straightforward task. Participatory research is one way that these perspectives can be articulated, and yet there are many challenges in how to do this well.

Methods used in Participate research

The research studies used a range of techniques. These included focus groups and multi stakeholder meetings, participatory inquiry, action research, oral testimonies and story collection as a foundation for collective analysis, photo- digital stories, photovoice, drawing and essay writing competitions, participatory video, and immersions.

Learn more about the participatory research methods used by the Participate initiative:

For further resources on participatory approaches to programme design, monitoring and evaluation; to learning, research and communication in organisations, networks and communities; and to citizen engagement in political processes, please visit the Participatory Methods website hosted by the Institute of Development Studies.