Participatory research involves a wide range of stakeholders to work together on research agenda, the process and actions. People discuss together their problems, possible solutions and actions to achieve them. This exercise aims to influence decision-making processes and make a positive impact on people’s lives at local, regional or national level.
Participatory research agenda setting may include different phases and methods to engage citizens, including both face-to-face and online formats.
In general, it follows a sequence of steps described below.
(literature review, stakeholders interviews, document analyses)
The first step is an analysis of available resources and a stakeholder analysis. All relevant stakeholders should be considered for participation, ensuring diversity in age, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, etc. so as to re-introduce the voice of the most marginalised people being absent from the decision-making process. Including them in the process is important as it bring different perspectives and a broader spectrum of views that would be normally overlooked.
Engagement / Consultation activities
In the engagement step, a representative group of citizens (and stakeholders) is asked to share their visions for the future in terms of needs, wishes, concerns and challenges, using different methods, such as focus groups, citizen panels, visioning workshops.
Prioritisation / refinement
(further consultation activities usually involving experts)
In this step, selected stakeholders and experts turn citizens’ visions into needs and research programme scenarios, which are then analysed, clustered and translated into recommendations for operational plans and policies. This can be done through Interactive workshops in which facilitators turn collected non-expert views into action validated by citizens to ensure that outcomes are still in line with their views, issues and priorities.
(usually dialogue meetings with professionals)
Collected views are integrated via dialogue meetings with policy-makers and/or other relevant parties to develop an applicable agenda. Ensuring impartiality of the process is of utmost importance to guarantee that each stakeholder group has a ‘say’ in the matter. This includes equal representation, use of non-technical language, convenient time and location of the meeting and giving participants enough time and information before the meeting to prepare for it. The dialogue might be enriched by stakeholder and public online consultations.
Dissemination / Programming / Implementation
(citizens panels, visioning workshops, focus groups or DELPHI rounds)
The last step is to develop research based on the integrated research agenda developed through the whole process. The citizens and stakeholders involved in the whole process should be represented in the programming committees and scientific boards. The implementation might have different forms – a call for proposals, involving research sponsors or matching research themes with research groups.