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Participatory Action Research Training at LJMU

Participatory Action Research Training at LJMU

Participatory Action Research (PAR) refers to a family of methods that seek to put those most affected by a particular topic or issue upfront in the research process. A range of approaches can be used as part of PAR projects depending on the subject under study including citizen science, archival research, participatory mapping, photography and film. 

This training, designed and delivered by Shortwork for academics at Liverpool John Moores University, focused on qualitative and creative group facilitation PAR methods based on a set of flexible and interactive paper tools, combined with a set of facilitator skills and behaviours, which allow research participants to explore an issue or question in the round, and come up with a set of solutions together. 

When done well PAR can help to:

* Rebalance the hierarchy between research findings produced by people and institutions with power, and devalued knowledge generated by people with less power.

* Generate better research questions & methods that are more relevant to a particular place, context or community.

* Hear from different and diverse viewpoints 

* Strengthen relationships between people and organisations, and build new partnerships.

* Provide evidence so decision makers can mobilise resources to implement solutions grounded in the reality of the people and communities they serve.

We delivered a two day Introduction to PAR which included:

* Immersion in the history, ethos and ethics of PAR 

* An overview of the PAR process and stages

* Opportunity to develop facilitation techniques, and learn from other peer facilitation styles.

* Introduction to a set of practical, visual, paper-based PAR discussion tools.

* Opportunity to put into practice the PAR techniques and tools to explore the question “How can we encourage PAR in our research at LJMU?” 

This was followed by a one day Participatory Data Analysis Workshop which included:

* Opportunity to meet and learn from peer researchers who have worked on live PAR projects as community researchers
* Case studies of how PAR findings have enacted change.
* Introduction to a set of tools that can be used to analyse data collaboratively. 
* Opportunity to put the analysis tools into practice, and to come up with a set of practical actions as a team in order to work towards embedding PAR in research at LJMU. 

A massive thanks to everyone who took part, but particularly Dr Caroline Brett and Dr Kaye Richards who commissioned the training.

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