Participatory Action Research (PAR)


PAR is a research method or approach in which stakeholders (communities or people involved) will contact a researcher in order to analyze and/or conduct research concerning an expressed community need or problem. The process of PAR should be empowering, emancipatory and lead to people having increased control over their lives.

Who has power?

There should be NO division between the researcher (“expert”) and researched (community). Meaning that the “experts” and the producers of knowledge are the community members themselves. The community or stakeholders would ideally abandon their position of “objects” of research and become “subjects” and protagonists of the research process.

When should the community join in (Participate)?

They are distinct levels of participation.

Ideally, the community will be the ones who would contact the researcher, and they should be part of the research process from the first stage. Meaning, they would express the need and the rationale for the research. They will also design, implement, analyze, publish and evaluate the research results.

The researcher (expert) takes the role of a facilitator. 

“It is ongoing research done for the community by the community, in which the community identifies a problem. The community then researches the problem and presents the results of the research to the larger community. The larger community then determines and implements an action in response to the problem. Once the action is taken, the action is evaluated to determine how effective the whole process had been and what next steps need to be taken.” Girls for Gender Equity


  • Emancipatory and Empowering
  • Collaborative
  • Reflective

Associations and Journals

Sage: Action Research


The Application of Participatory Action-Research in Latin America by Orlando Fals-Borda (Colombian researcher and sociologist, and one of the founders of participatory action research.)

Doing Research with Young People: Participatory Research and the Rituals of Collective Work by Caitlin Cahill (Community Studies, College of Social and Behavioral Science, University of Utah)

More Information/Resources

Kemmis & McTaggart: Participatory Action Research

Bergold, Jarg & Thomas, Stefan (2012). Participatory Research Methods: A Methodological Approach in Motion [110 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung  Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 13 (1). Art. 30.

Funding Opportunities

Community Action Research Initiative (CARI) Grant
The Sydney S. Spivack Program in Applied Social Research and Social Policy
Written by: Stephanie Martínez and Janae Teal
Last updated: 1 January 2016

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