Recommendations for Conducting Participatory Action Research

  • No one way. PAR evolves from and must be attentive to local context. It is, according to a leader of international development projects, “not a model, but an approach.” Various mainstream quantitative and qualitative methods of evaluation may be selected. Flexibility of design and the ability of all involved to respond to what is being learned along the way are essential.
  • Relevance and ownership. “In so many evaluations,” said a pro- gram officer committed to PAR, “no one thinks to ask the users.” The questions must come from those immersed in the daily life of a community and its issues. From a researcher: “Real problems, real people, and research as part of the process of change.”
  • The process of change as a driver. The “process of change” sits at the heart of the approach: recognition among community members or practitioners and researchers that there is a problem to be solved or a practice to be improved. Evaluation is in the service of problem solution. “PAR,” said a grant maker, “gets to the question of how the community works and enables improvement.” From another: “PAR engages practitioners in a process of inquiring that becomes part of the solution and points to avenues for change.”

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Participatory Action Research.