Introduction to Participatory Action Research



Organised by:

Social Research Association


Dr Karen Lumsden


Entry (no or almost no prior knowledge)


Lindsay Adams
E: (preferred method of contact)
T: 0204 551 3864

video conference logo

Venue: Online


This live online course explores a valuable qualitative research method combining participatory research and action research. (Foundation Course).  It runs in one day and uses Zoom software.


Participatory Action Research (PAR) is a type of research that combines two different approaches: participatory research and action research. It is a valuable qualitative method because it empowers and involves individuals and communities in the research process, and in taking actions to improve aspects of their lives. Researchers using PAR aim to enable action on the part of the participants, and do so via a reflective process where the participants collect and analyse data, and then determine what action should be taken. When participants and researchers are equal partners in the research process, the study’s focus and results can be made more relevant to a specific community. However, in PAR there are also challenges in terms of how researchers form and maintain relationships with participants, how the data is constructed and used, and who has ownership of the data.

This introductory course provides skills on how to conduct Participatory Action Research (PAR). It provides an introduction to PAR and its origins, history and theories. It explores the stages that must be followed in designing PAR, and the practicalities of doing so. Through a collaborative practical exercise, participants will be able to gain experience of designing their own PAR project.


By the end of the course, participants will have knowledge of the origin, history and theories of PAR and how it relates to qualitative methods. They will also be able to conduct their own PAR study following the various ‘stages’ of PAR. They will be aware of the ethical and practical considerations of PAR, including working as a team and building rapport with participants and communities involved in a PAR study.


During the course we will cover:

  • PAR as a qualitative research method.
  • The origins, history and theories of PAR.
  • The ‘principles’ of PAR
  • What constitutes ‘research’ in PAR?
  • The ‘stages’ of the PAR process.
  • Working as a team: power and building rapport with participants.
  • Ensuring rigour.
  • Ethical considerations.
  • Practical activity: designing a PAR study.

Who will benefit

This introductory course will be of value to researchers who already have a basic understanding of qualitative research methods but who wish to delve into the method of PAR, and to involve and empower individuals and communities in their research projects.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the principles of PAR, including how it combines participatory research with action research.
  • Have knowledge of the theories and methods of PAR.
  • A practical exercise will enable participants to be able to design their own PAR study.
  •  Be aware of the various stages that must be followed when designing a PAR study.
  •  Have an awareness of the ethical considerations which must be made in a PAR study.

Course tutor

Dr Karen Lumsden is a sociologist and criminologist at the University of Aberdeen, UK. She has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Aberdeen and has held a number of academic posts including Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham, Associate Professor at the University of Leicester, and at Loughborough University. She has over 15 years’ experience teaching qualitative research methods to doctoral students, academics, practitioners and social researchers. This includes courses at the Universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Essex, Kingston, Bristol, Cardiff, and for the Social Research Association. Karen has also designed and delivered research methods training for police officers and staff via the East Midlands Policing Academic Collaboration (EMPAC) and for research consultancies. She has authored a number of academic books and journal articles on qualitative research methods and is on the Editorial Board of the Qualitative Research journal.


£220.00 Members of SRA pay £165.00

Website and registration:




Participatory Action Research (PAR)

Related publications and presentations:

Participatory Action Research (PAR)

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