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Participatory Research Methods: Doing research inclusively


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Title: Participatory Research Methods: Doing research inclusively

Participatory Research Methods Doing research
  • Quest seminar 9 October 2013

Melanie Nind
A methodological story
  • Beginning
  • Complexity/ My position at the start/ Language
  • Study aims/ Methodological intentions
  • Middle
  • Crisis moments/ Epiphanies/ Findings
  • End
  • My revised position

  • Research about participatory methods using a
    participatory approach
  • Relationship between the 2
  • And the tensions

Starting position
  • I am known as a researcher who has conducted
    research both on and with people with learning
    disabilities, interested in participatory
    research but not exclusively allied to it.
  • I find the moral case for inclusive research
    with people with learning disabilities
    compelling. I maintain that while research can be
    valid and emancipatory without always being
    inclusive, more work is needed to find what is
    possible and important for fully exploiting the
    potential of inclusive research.
  • (Case for support)

Inclusive research a definition
  • Walmsley Johnson (2003 16)
  • must address issues which really matter and
    which ultimately leads to improved lives
  • must access and represent their views and
  • reflect that people with learning disabilities
    need to be treated with respect by the research

  • Walmsley Johnson (2003 12) reflect, we are
    troubled by a certain stifling of debate about
    the real difficulties of including people with
    learning disabilities in research. We believe it
    is time to challenge certain orthodoxies and
    assumptions in order to clarify what inclusive
    research is and how and where it can be applied
  • Study response to the failure to grapple
    honestly (Walmsley Johnson 2003 16) with the
    most sensitive questions, which is needed if the
    investment in inclusive research is to be a wise

Research aims
  • To build knowledge and capacity in inclusive
    research with people with learning disabilities.
  • Take stock of the knowledge base
  • Produce guidance on the issues and challenges
  • Develop materials and case studies
  • Produce criteria for quality in inclusive

Research questions
  • What does working in partnership really mean?
  • What kinds of knowledge are attributable to IR?
  • How can outcomes of IR be assessed and
  • What are the benefits problems?
  • How might good science and good inclusive
    research practice come together?
  • What can be added from sharing interrogating

Methodological intentions
  • create vibrant interactive spaces in which best
    use could be made of constructive friction within
    the field - transformative dialogue (Gergen 2009)
    in a stifled arena
  • reframe the debate so that the research process
    (rather than who is the expert) is central
  • involve participant-researchers not only in the
    task of unveiling that reality of inclusive
    research, and thereby coming to know it
    critically, but in the task of re-creating that
    knowledge (Freire 1970 51).
  • co-construct knowledge in a design not
    unsympathetic to the focus on inclusive research

In practice
  • Series of focus groups in dialogic relationship
  • People traditionally with and without power
    naming the world (Freire 1970 69) together and
    not on behalf of another (70).

Focus groups
Participatory methods
  • Talk
  • Visual metaphor
  • Visual recaps
  • I-poems

Crisis brews
  • 1 person asks if people without learning
    disabilities are allowed to speak
  • jargon in the ethics form is criticised
  • 1 person attacks language of digital story word
    is child-like
  • 1 person opts not to complete consent and take
  • Daveys answer is corrected
  • grenade is thrown!

The grenade is thrown
  • Before we do wrap up, I might discuss a question
    with you Melanie, I just want to know why you
    decided to do an inclusive research project and
    not being inclusive, because I don't get it.
  • to me this is again people are subjects
  • Fieldnote Helen reminds me this is useful. It is
    a position in the room that I can use to trigger
    responses etc. When I feel less bruised I will
    reflect more on this!!

  • Transition from talking about inclusive
    research to doing research inclusively
  • Could emphasising the verb rather than naming the
    approach liberate unshackle us from the dogma?
  • Could it give us permission for exploration,
    diversity, development?
  • Participatory/inclusive research is not and
    must not be - fixed

Findings Diverse ways of working
Support Negotiation Interdependency
Findings quality participation quality
research happens when
  • We answer questions we could not otherwise
    answer, but that are important
  • We get access in ways we could not otherwise get
  • We make critical use of insider, cultural
  • The research is authentic (recognisable)
  • We make impact/ a difference to peoples lives

My position at the end
  • Doing research inclusively
  • Is hard (emotional labour greater ask too much
    of it)
  • Needs to go beyond claims making
  • Is not necessarily better
  • Retains an allure
  • But requires critique and integrity

Further info
  • Nind, M. Vinha, M. Doing research inclusively
    Bridges to multiple possibilities in inclusive
    research, British Journal of Learning
    Disabilities, 2012, i1-8.
  • Note This work was funded by the Economic and
    Social Research Council grant RES-000-22-4423. I
    am grateful to the funder and to everyone who was
    involved in the study