Participatory Research in the Past, Present and Future

  • Imelda CoyneEmail author
  • Bernie Carter


In this chapter we look at the past to illustrate the impetus for participatory research, the present to illustrate the diverse range of participatory research techniques and the future to illustrate the challenges, the gaps and what we need to do to ensure that research is truly participatory and not another form of tokenism. Over the past decade, the participation agenda and growth of legislation have led to increasing focus on user (including children) involvement in research, policy and the delivery of services. This has focused attention on how to support, elicit and value children’s and young people’s voices in all matters that concern them, including research. Participatory research is particularly suitable as it incorporates a strength-based approach that acknowledges children’s and young people’s agency and capabilities. It is about seeing children and young people as experts in their own lives and using an approach and techniques that promote active engagement, co-construction of meanings and understandings in all stages of the research process. There is a growing body of participatory research techniques that facilitate and maximise children’s and young people’s diverse ways of communicating and participating. We note how researchers continue to push boundaries and challenge assumptions, but more needs to be done to promote choice, enhance agency and encompass the diversity of children and childhood. We conclude that researchers need to be critical and self-reflective on the processes that produce children’s and young people’s voices, the power imbalances and the ideological context that shape them and which influence representation.


Participatory research Techniques Children Young people Rights Agency Competency Capabilities Reflection 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Nursing and Midwifery and Trinity Research in Childhood CentreTrinity College DublinDublinIreland
  2. 2.Edge Hill UniversityOrmskirkUK
  3. 3.Children’s Nursing Research UnitAlder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation TrustLiverpoolUK

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