Why is it called « participatory » research ?

Philippe Archambault, Prof. McGill University and Marc Saint-Onge, Coordinator Observatoire québecois du loisir

This video discusses the elements that explain the "participatory" aspect of research and the roles of the stakeholders and partners involved in this research.

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LSQ Version - Quebec sign language

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My name is Philippe Archambault, from McGill University. The question: what does the term “participatory” means in “participatory research”? What makes a research project a participatory research project? Let me introduce myself, Marc Saint-Onge, from the Observatoire québécois du loisir. For me, a project that is participatory, a participatory research, is a project in which all the actors who are present share a common vision, share a common problem, a relatively common understanding, even though there may be some disparities, and this is what enriches this participatory research. It is the people who decide by mutual agreement to work together. Who are these people? They are researchers. They are students. They are people who sometimes have functional limitations. They are partners in the field. It is important to have an understanding of each other’s roles. Researchers arrive with their rigorous, scientific methodology, arrive with conceptual frameworks, arrive with a perspective that is more global. People who work in the field who, like me, come with daily field issues, we come with solutions we have tried to create. We worked with people, we tried to make certain partnerships, but it is all these amalgams of reciprocal expertises that make it possible for a project to become participative. It is important that we have a real collaboration, not a one-way work, so, to determine the issue on which we are going to work, therefore, the ideation of the project, all teams will work together. This is the most important part. And working together like that, looking at the issues, that’s where we’ll determine the actual research project. So, all of this will be done in a really collaborative way, so the project will meet the needs of every partners. Everyone works together, but it doesn’t mean that everyone works on the same tasks. Indeed, we share the tasks according to the expertise and availability of everyone. So, so often, the researchers who are going to deal with the methodological aspects, the choice of tools, the choice of tools that are going to be used for data collection, they are also the ones who are going to do the data collection, the students, the researchers, who are therefore going to do the recordings, the surveys, the interviews and all that. But it’s important that the partners also, in fact that everyone involved, everyone is informed, can take part in the decisions for all these choices that will be made on the methodology. One of the important steps in the process you just described, Philippe, is the analysis part. For someone who works in the field, it can sometimes be more daunting. It can sometimes be a little too far from our reality. However, it is so important to involve the field partners in this analysis process because, in the end, the solutions that will come out of it, are for an application. We have to contribute to a real inclusion of people with functional limitations. And we really need to work hard on this step and get everyone involved. It’s important that both researchers and partners find a shared value in a research project. What is important for people working in the field, from partners to researchers, it’s the opportunity to be part of the research project itself. We don’t want to sign a letter of support. We don’t necessarily want to be stooges, if we can put it that way. One seeks to be a stakeholder to feel engaged and concerned in the research project. I insist a little on the fact that, at the end of the day, it is the practitioners, the people who are professionals in the field, who will apply, who will meet with the decision-making bodies to be able to influence them with the help of all the data that we will have obtained. And this part is very important. Researchers also want to be involved in a research project. What is important for them is to participate in a good project that advances knowledge. They are interested in training their students, advancing knowledge, as I said, also advancing their careers. It’s all about advancing their careers. So they don’t just want to provide a service and they don’t just want to do a survey, answer a question to answer a question that you may already know the answer to. They want to be able to contribute in an innovative way. What we have been saying for some time now, it’s important not to instrumentalize any of the partners who are involved in a project. Exactly. We want everyone to be able to find their account, everyone to be able to share their respective knowledge and to make a real team work.