Uses and abuses of user research 2

January 6, 2006

The article on research by the public confuses a number of arguments made in relation to a range of research discussed at the Social Research Association conference that can be called participatory.

The point I made related to the ways in which academic researchers need to learn new skills to facilitate the process of participatory research, including the training of lay researchers to take part in different aspects of fieldwork.

My comments related to a specific project that involved a multi-method approach that used the different skills of academic and lay researchers to develop research evidence. The use of lay researchers undoubtedly enhanced the quality of the research output but was managed by the academic researchers. Through this type of partnership I feel that research by the public can be reliable and can add to breadth of knowledge and understanding on research topics that may or may not involve specific service users.

Sheila Peace
Associate dean (research)
Open University

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