The Experiences of the Participatory Action Researcher

Author(s): Kevin Barnes, Programmes Coordinator

Department: RehabCare

(29 Jul 2009)
Traditional methods of research involving people with disabilities have been the subject of criticism. These approaches, it has been argued, have used people as research subjects. It has been seen as research ‘on people’ rather than ‘with people’, which ultimately has led to little improvement in people’s quality of life.

This abstract describes a Participatory Action Research approach completed in July 2003 involving the National RehabCare Advocacy Committee’s (NRAC) elected national body in part completion of MSc in Rehabilitation Studies, University College Dublin. The process was reflective in seeking people’s experience and providing an analysis of these experiences to identify possible improvement within the National Committee.

The information I would like to share identifies learning outcomes from the process: Obtaining ethical consent will be highlighted together with knowledge gained identifying further improvements. Concerns about the power relationship between staff researcher and service users participant will be examined. How the process developed to increase participation and involvement within the group will be shown. Together with how the results were formulated and evaluated, and how the ownership of the actions increases the likelihood of there implementation.

Moving from a ‘power over’ to a ‘power with’ research philosophy results in a feeling of anxiety when control is lost and deadlines are looming. The presentation will conclude that these feelings are essential to all researchers conducting participatory research, but that future projects require participants access to full information about the role of research and research methodologies to ensure equal partnership approach.

For further information please contact Kevin Barnes: Tel: 01 205 7286

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