Participatory research can help reduce tensions between different stakeholders and lead to productive working relationships that solve real problems while encouraging innovation. ‘
To be successful, some specific skills and tools are required.
GAP2 – an international, EC-funded research project – has been accumulating and documenting experience at the forefront of collaborative fisheries research in Europe since 2008. This briefing explains how some of the things we have learned are being made accessible to others by condensing our knowledge into a set of tools, forming a ‘Methodological Toolbox’.
What is participatory research?
Participatory research is about involving in the research process, those people who have knowledge relevant to understand and solve particular science problems. It is a collaborative, action-oriented process that brings together different types of knowledge in designing, developing, and implementing research measures.
In the GAP2 project, participatory research involves collaboration between fisheries scientists, the fishing industry, and other stakeholders, in generating the evidence required for formulating effective fisheries management measures.
Why use participatory research?
The logic is simple: participation in research enables partners with various perspectives, but common interests, to construct joint knowledge which meets shared needs. The incentive to do this is based upon a mutual curiosity for understanding ecology and fisheries, and/or the value that the knowledge has to improve fisheries management. Rooted in respectful and engaging dialogue, the participatory approach deepens individual and collective learning, creating a sense of shared responsibility for action.
In the complex, multi-actor environment of managing common property renewable resources, participatory research actions are providing the foundation for establishing and embedding the criteria and principles for “Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) – allowing society’s perspectives to contribute towards the formulation of innovative research policies and management practices.
The Methodological Toolbox
- Provides practical information and insights on the approaches and methods for implementing participatory research actions.
- Has been developed entirely from first-hand experience, building on best practice developed and tested in the real world, incorporating unique insights into the personal challenges and rewards of this approach
- Is accessible to researchers and policy-makers via an interactive web-based platform, in order to encourage widespread use.
- Is available as a full paper document for download, along with links to further documents and papers, allowing readers to access extra methodological and application details
Who is this for?
By providing some practical guidelines to support effective collaborative research, the Toolbox is of particular use for research scientists and policy-managers who have a commitment to, need for, or interest in, pursuing inclusive approaches in research and innovation actions.
What’s in the Toolbox and how do I use it?
There are tools for seven key participatory research actions provided:
- Oral Histories
- Semi-structured interviews
- Focus groups
- Participatory Mapping
- Participatory Modelling
- Participatory Planning
- The Message Box
Each tool is then broken down into small, straight-forward sections: tool description and outcomes, what is needed, how it works, warnings, examples from GAP2, what people say about this tool, and references and resources.
Detailed references and resources are supplied for each individual tool in the Methodological Toolbox.
Who has written the Toolbox?
The Toolbox has been authored by a variety of scientists and others involved in the GAP2 project.
Contributions have been sourced from both ‘natural’ and ‘social’ scientists, and well as fishers, management officials, and communications professionals.
Where can you find out more?
GAP2 is an international research project, applying participatory research methods to fisheries management in 13 separate case studies across Europe. Bringing fishers, scientists and policy makers together, the project facilitates collaborative progress towards sustainable fisheries for the benefit of society.