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Participatory Action Research: a methodology for impact? Ana B. Amaya and Nicola Yeates 1 ESRC/DfID Poverty.

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Presentation on theme: "Participatory Action Research: a methodology for impact? Ana B. Amaya and Nicola Yeates 1 ESRC/DfID Poverty."— Presentation transcript:

1 Participatory Action Research: a methodology for impact? Ana B. Amaya and Nicola Yeates 1 ESRC/DfID Poverty Alleviation Conference 9/9/14

2 o Poverty Reduction and Regional Integration (PRARI) - What regional institutional practices and methods of regional policy formation are conducive to the emergence of embedded pro-poor health strategies, and what can national, regional and international actors do to promote these? - Comparison of UNASUR and SADC - Development of a ‘toolkit’ of input, process, output and outcome indicators that capture regional policy change and pro-poor regional health policy success 2 ESRC/DfID Poverty Alleviation Conference 9/9/14

3 What is PAR? “PAR is a reflective and collaborative process of problem-solving. It generally applies within social learning contexts, where multiple actors collectively define the problem and objectives, and work towards solutions. Iterative cycles of action and reflection make change processes more robust by ensuring that learning and sharing take place, that actions are adjusted to align with objectives, and that the actors themselves learn and adapt” (New pathways to resilience IDRC/CRDI/DfID). PAR is an orientation, not a method. What distinguishes it from conventional research is: – the methodological contexts of the application of methods and – the location of power in the stages of the research process (Cornwall and Jewkes 1995) 3 ESRC/DfID Poverty Alleviation Conference 9/9/14

4 Participatory research Conventional research What is the research for? Who is the research for? Whose knowledge counts? Topic choice influenced by? Role of researcher Action. Local people. Local people’s. Local priorities. Facilitator, catalyst. Understanding with perhaps action later. Institutional, personal and professional interests. Scientists. Funding priorities, institutional agendas, professional interests. Director. Methodology chosen for? Empowerment, mutual learning. Disciplinary conventions, ‘objectivity’ and ‘truth’. 4 ESRC/DfID Poverty Alleviation Conference 9/9/14 Participatory and conventional research: a comparison of process (Cornwall and Jewkes 1995)

5 Who takes part in the stages of research process? Problem identification Data collection Interpretation Analysis Presentation of findings Action on findings Who takes action? Who owns the results? What is emphasised? Local people. Local concepts and frameworks. Local people. Locally accessible and useful. Integral to the process. Local people, with(out) external support. Shared. Process. Researcher. Disciplinary concepts and frameworks. Researcher. By researcher to other academics or funding body. Separate and may not happen. External agencies. The researcher. Outcomes. 5 ESRC/DfID Poverty Alleviation Conference 9/9/14

6 Continuum of participation in research projects (Cornwall and Jewkes 1995) ContractualPeople are contracted into projects directed by researchers to take part in their enquiries or experiments Deep  > Shallow Ownership devolved Researcher-controlled ConsultativePeople are asked for their opinions and consulted by researchers before interventions are made CollaborativeResearchers and local people work together on projects designed, initiated and managed by researchers CollegiateResearchers and local people work together as colleagues with different skills to offer, in a process of mutual learning where local people have control over the process 6 ESRC/DfID Poverty Alleviation Conference 9/9/14

7 What about impact? 1. How is PAR relevant for research uptake and impact agendas? 2. What are the opportunities, tensions, and dilemmas of PAR in impact contexts? 7 ESRC/DfID Poverty Alleviation Conference 9/9/14

8 Why are we using collaborative PAR for PRARI? Co-production enhances potential for impact Development of a useful tool that responds to expressed need, priorities and available data Project team bring expertise and experience and can; and can also learn from partners Ownership Capacity building Generating dialogue and partnerships (democratic) accountability Project timeframe - funder priorities 8 ESRC/DfID Poverty Alleviation Conference 9/9/14

9 How will we use collaborative PAR? Collaborative work with identified partners in South America and Southern Africa involving Intensive and iterative processes of identifying needs, data, priorities through Interviews, focus groups, workshops; pilot Research team-managed communication (face-to-face, ICTs), with and among partners Workshops, Briefings and conference for uptake, dissemination and impact 9 ESRC/DfID Poverty Alleviation Conference 9/9/14

10 Challenges Collaboration is time-intensive, requires trust Mobilising and sustaining partner participation, trust, and commitment to the process and results of the research Differences of expectations, opinion, interpretation, institutional agendas, desirable outcomes Power imbalances Toolkits need to be implementable and endure over time; context-specificity vs generalisability Impact tends to be seen in the long-term (whereas short project lifespan) 10 ESRC/DfID Poverty Alleviation Conference 9/9/14

11 Conclusions PAR methods have tangible relevance for uptake and impact agendas The research ‘problem’ of creating and sustaining a participatory community supportive of research objectives takes a distinctive turn in an impact context Different modes of PAR bring different benefits and challenges Importance of impact planning and flexibility 11 ESRC/DfID Poverty Alleviation Conference 9/9/14


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