participatory social research & evaluation in health services, community health, higher education
I’m a social researcher of more than 30 years standing, having worked both in higher education and as a freelance consultant. Most of my work has been participatory research & evaluation in health, social care and community settings. Action research is the approach that in my long career I’ve found to be most valuable – and continually exciting too, because I’m always learning as I practice. I also have extensive experience and understanding of social research – and supporting social researchers – across the full spectrum of qualitative methods, including pre- and post-doctoral work.
I believe that the principles of:
- listening to each other with respect,
- privileging the voice of people who have little power,
- examining our practice together , and
- creating new knowledge and insights that are of immediate use
offer a new approach to inquiry that is really exciting and take research into the heart of what really matters: how to change the world we live in for the better. These broad principles form the basis for action research and associated approaches:
- practitioner research,
- participatory action research,
- practice development
- action inquiry,
- action learning.
I provide facilitation, support and mentorship which recognises the problems, challenges and issues that social researchers face – and which is grounded in my own experience and practice.
Because action research is more open-ended than conventional research, we face a different set of challenges. My wide experience enables me to help action researchers find their way through these.
The challenges of action research are special because it explicitly takes place in the world we already live in. It is unlike positivist research which seeks to create a distance between the ‘researcher’ and the ‘researched’. It’s about doing research WITH people rather than ON people, and so bridges the gap between the creation of knowledge and implementation of findings.
Instead of research findings only ever appearing in a publication that is rarely read, and seldom by the most relevant people, action researchers understand research as a process of mutual inquiry and development, grounded in the real world, not separate from it. We think of it as a learning process, something that can be very powerful.