The Centre has developed several toolkits and guides that we think will be of interest to anyone embarking on (or considering) a community-based research project.
This guide was developed through the Participatory Research Innovation and Learning Labs (PRILL) coordinated by the Centre during 2022. PRILL aimed to build on and map the range of experiences, expertise, aspirations, good practice and challenges for participatory research at Durham; and to create a shared yet diverse space where novel, challenging and complex approaches, methods, and problems could be worked on collaboratively by groups of practising participatory researchers.
This is a revised version of the ethical guidelines first published in 2012, with new tools and cases added as an Appendix. These guidelines are designed to support community-based researchers, research ethics committees and funders in thinking through the ethical challenges that may arise in community-based research and planning and designing research that is inclusive, fair and seeks positive social change.
The Centre for Social Justice and Community Action (CSJCA) focuses on research that involves university and community partners working together for socially just change. Topics we have worked on include: asylum seekers’ rights; financial inclusion; racism; community-led heritage and environmental development. We specialise in participatory action research (PAR). In PAR, people who have first-hand experience of the issues being studied play a role in some or all aspects of the process of planning, doing and publicising the research, and putting the findings into practice.
Drawing on the work of Augusto Boal, Brazilian theatre director, who developed participatory theatre for social change (Theatre of the Oppressed and Forum Theatre), members of the Centre have explored ethical issues in research through acting out real-life scenarios.
A dilemmas café involves people coming together to discuss several dilemmas experienced by participants. A dilemma is a choice between alternative courses of action, when it is not clear which is the right one to choose. A dilemmas café may be on any topic, e.g. science, parenting, social work. This guide focuses on ethical dilemmas in community-based participatory research (CBPR). Ethics is about matters of rights, responsibilities, harms and benefits.
The way “impact” has been identified and measured by RCUK and REF2014 does not fit well with co-produced/participatory research, and can deter rather than support this important form of knowledge production. This paradox is also present for co-production in other sectors (e.g. social policy, community organisations, the arts and social enterprises).
This report outlines the problems that arise when co-produced/participatory research is evaluated for impact. It describes the limitations of existing concepts and evaluation of impact, and makes recommendations for changes that will better support co-produced research. The report’s main themes and recommendations also have relevance to other forms of co-production, and also to delivering impact through research that has not been co-produced.
There is not one way to do co-inquiry research, however, the approach does have some core components that are common in community-university participatory research partnerships. These components are detailed within this toolkit and are a good starting point for anyone interested in embarking on a co-inquiry research partnership. The toolkit was compiled by Andrea Armstrong and Sarah Banks (Durham University) for Beacon North East.
Beacon North East (2011) Co-inquiry toolkit. Community-university participatory research partnerships: co-inquiry and related approaches. Newcastle, Beacon North East.
This toolkit is intended to provide guidance on what a PAR project commonly looks like, how to work together and some questions to ask as you go. It does not provide advice on methods, as these will vary depending on what the research is about. There are many sources available for methods to use within a PAR research approach.
Pain, R. Whitman, G. Milledge, D. and Lune Rivers Trust (2012) Participatory action research toolkit: an introduction to using PAR as an approach to learning, research and action, Durham University/RELU/Lune Rivers Trust
This guide was written by members of Thrive, a community organisation based in Thornaby-on-Tees. It is based on their experience of engaging and working with staff and students of Durham University. We hope that it will offer some guidance to other voluntary sector organisations or community groups about the ways to engage with universities, from first contact through to collaborative partnerships.
Beacon North East 2012. Community toolkit. A guide to working with universities. Newcastle Beacon North East.
The ‘Ethics Guide’ is aimed at a wide audience and can be used in many ways:
The Community Mentoring Tookit is for research project that include mentoring with socially excluded households. This toolkit was produced as part of the Debt on Teesside action research project.
Research in Transition: Developing Guidelines for Activist-Academic Research Collaborations (2013) A detailed online resource for activists and academics thinking about research collaboration to create a fairer and more resilient society, presented in an easy-to-navigate “pattern language”.
Case Studies of Ethical Issues and Challenges in Community-Based Participatory Research (2011)
The 4 case studies each focus on a CBPR research project and the expected and unexpected ethical issues that arose. They were written collaboratively (academics and community partners) and are from a range of settings.
Case Study 1: A Co-inquiry Action Research Group
Case Study 2: The Young Woman’s Group Allotment Research Project
Case Study 3: The Newport Medieval Ship Project
Case Study 4: The Polyveg Garden Project
Enquiries about the Centre for Social Justice and Community Action should be sent via the email below.
Department of SociologyDurham University29 Old ElvetDurham CityDH1 3HN
Tel: +44 (0)191 334 1497