Participatory Inquiry Forum networking and planning session

PIF event 18 July 2017

Many thanks to everyone who attended the Participatory Inquiry Forum (PIF) in July. We had a great mix of longstanding members of the Participatory Research Group and PhD students who are newcomers to participatory research, which made for an interesting and useful networking and planning session.

To start with, we reflected on the lively and varied events we have held over the last academic year:

  • In the first PIF, we heard from Dr Nick Caddick from the Veterans and Families Institute about his work using peer-led recruitment strategies for engaging older veterans living with limb loss in a pilot study researching the independence of older limbless veterans.
  • We also heard from Professor Maritta Törrönen, our Marie Curie Individual European Fellow, about her Participatory Action Research with young adults in both the UK and Finland about their experiences of leaving care, which sits within the field of reciprocal social work.
  • In the second PIF, we held a round table discussion on planning and using participatory approaches in doctorate research, from developing the proposal, to considering ethics, to the practicalities of fieldwork and finally defending participatory approaches in the viva.
  • In the third PIF, we welcomed Dr Tina Cook, Reader in Inclusive Methodologies at Northumbria University, who talked about different types of impact and different trajectories to impact through participatory research with those whose lives are the subject of the study.

Posts on all of these events can be found on this blog – please do get in touch and leave comments!

We also discussed the research that everyone in the room was involved in or planning. In doing so, we returned to a common theme of participatory versus participative research, whereby participatory research would involve participants in all aspects of the research, from developing the research question right through to dissemination while participative research would involve participants as and when is appropriate for both the research project and the participants themselves (see Position Papers from the International Collaboration for Participatory Health Research for further information). It is important to consider the claim we are making with our research and we need to justify how and why something is participatory, participative, or simply informed by these approaches.

Turning to planning for the next academic year, an important issue came up around raising the profile of participatory research and the Participatory Research Group within the university as well as externally. The Participatory Research Blog has provided a platform for this, however further suggestions included:

  • Sharing the blog more widely and building a following of both staff and students internally and externally.
  • Establishing an online forum through the blog for interactive discussions around issues in conducting participatory research.
  • Developing short ‘vodcasts’ of researchers discussing participatory methodology or participatory research projects that are currently happening across the university.
  • Developing and collating further shared resources on participatory research together, such as articles, websites, methods, etc.
  • Running a session on participatory research for the Doctoral School so that students are aware of this approach as an option.

These suggestions will be taken on board and the Participatory Research Group will look to implement them in the near future – please do get in touch with any further suggestions!

Finally, we thought about what to focus on in the Participatory Inquiry Forums in 2017/2018. It was agreed that the PhD session was a great success and we should hold another similar event on participatory research throughout the PhD journey. Other ideas included writing grants for participatory research projects and the use of creative methods in participatory research. Dates and further information on these events will be shared in due course – watch this space.

Author: annadadswell

As a Research Fellow in Social Work and Social Policy at Anglia Ruskin University, I manage the Participatory Research Blog. Please feel free to contact me with questions and suggestions at

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