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Participatory Action Research

What is Participatory Action Research?

Participatory action research (PAR) is a research approach that involves various communities and  participation and action. It seeks to understand the world by trying to change it, collaboratively and following reflection.

PAR emphasizes collective inquiry and experimentation grounded in experience and social history.


Within a PAR process, "communities of inquiry and action evolve and address questions and issues that are significant for those who participate as co-researchers".[1]


PAR contrasts with many research methods, which emphasize disinterested researchers and reproducibility of findings.

PAR practitioners make a concerted effort to integrate three basic aspects of their work:

- Participation (life in society and democracy),

- Action (engagement with experience and history), and

- Research (soundness in thought and the growth of knowledge).[2] 

"Action unites, organically, with research" and collective processes of self-investigation.[3] The way each component is understood and the relative emphasis it receives varies from one PAR theory and practice to another. This means that PAR is not a monolithic body of ideas and methods but rather a pluralistic orientation to knowledge making and social change


Action Research: Theory and Methods for Engaged Inquiry (Chevalier, JM, & DJ Buckles, 2013)

"This book addresses a key issue in higher learning, university education and scientific research: the widespread difficulty researchers, experts and students from all disciplines face when trying to contribute to change in complex social settings characterized by uncertainty and the unknown. More than ever, researchers need flexible means and grounded theory to combine people-based and evidence-based inquiry into challenging situations that keep evolving and do not lend themselves to straightforward technical explanations and solutions"

A Guide to Ethical Principles and Practice in Participatory Action Research

The International Collaboration for Participatory Health Research has put together a guide to ethical principles and practice that highlights 7 ethical principles to any participatory action research and 3 main practice principles. We bring those to us in a condensed format. You can also access the complete guide with the link below.

Partnership Checklist

What are the most important elements that any partnership for successful participatory action-based research should have?:

•Determining the need for partnership

•Choosing partners

•Making sure partnerships work

•Planning collaborative action

•Implementing Collaborative action

•Minimizing the barriers to partnerships

•Reflecting on the continuing partnership

The Partnerships Analysis Tool - VicHealth

VicHealth considers partnerships an important mechanism for building and sustaining capacity to promote health and prevent illness. This emphasis is particularly relevant when working across multiple sectors and with a range of organisations. If partnerships are to be successful, however, they must have a clear purpose, add value to the work of the partners, and be carefully planned and monitored.

This resource is for organisations entering into or working in a partnership to assess, monitor and maximise its ongoing effectiveness. It is designed to help organisations:

  • develop a clearer understanding of the range of purposes of collaborations

  • reflect on the partnerships they have established

  • focus on ways to strengthen new and existing partnerships by engaging in discussion about issues and ways forward

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IMPACT Research Program

Health Access

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