Department hosts PGR Forum on Participatory Action Research

The event, 'Researching with people', was organised by the Action Research Peers Group.

PhD student Hannah presents in front of projector screen

On 13th January 2020, the Department of Geography hosted the PGR forum event 'Researching with people – what does it mean?', organised by the Action Research Peers Group.

In the social sciences and beyond, academic research involving people is becoming increasingly participatory and active, enabling researchers to reach a deeper understanding of complex social and cultural systems whilst developing positive and meaningful relationships with their respondents.

This forum event aimed to provide a suitable introduction to different participatory methods and their benefits, as well as an opportunity to meet, network, and share ideas with other PGR researchers interested in similar themes. It was a relaxed and fun event, providing a platform for interdisciplinary discussion on approaches to Participatory Action Research (PAR) and how to do engaged, participatory research as part of a PhD research project.

What happened at the forum?

The forum was attended by a diverse group of PhD researchers, at different stages of their respective projects, from a variety of different schools and departments across the University of Sheffield, including Geography, Urban Studies & Planning, Architecture, Landscape, History, Nursing, and Animal & Plant Sciences. Each attendant had the opportunity to give a short presentation detailing their own research, followed by focussed discussion afterwards. Each presentation was broadly focussed around one or more of the following themes: 1) inequality, 2) communities & 3) environment.

As well as attempting to define what Participatory Action Research actually entails (which may be easier said than done), discussion was lively and far-reaching, focussing on issues of accessibility, ethics, and potential challenges of carrying out participatory research.

What is the Action Research Peers Group?

The peers group is open to all PGR researchers at the University of Sheffield interested in participatory and action research (defined in a very broad sense).  The group meets regularly to organise events aiming to connect like-minded PGRs and other early-career researchers and provide a platform for support, discussion and collaboration.

What to expect in the future

Building on the success of the January forum, plans are underway to organise the next event focussing on ethics in participatory research.

Want to get involved? For more information on the Action Research Peers Group and future events, please contact Will Haynes at

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