Participatory action research methods, tools and ethics

On this page you will find links to materials, videos and other resources on the methods used in PAR. Links are provided to examples of the tools used, and to discussions and guidelines on ethical issues in PAR. The resources are in various languages. The most recently published resources are shown first. Please send us your resources to include on this page.

How to make a pocket chart and more examples of how to use it


This text explains how to use a pocket chart, a participatory investigative tool used to collect and tabulate data from the community level, such as where people collect water within networks of information exchange. Poster-size charts contain "pockets" of cloth or paper inserted in each cell in a matrix, with simple drawings identifying the subject of each row or column. Participants can also use it to "vote" on topics, such as health service features, by placing counters in the pocket that indicates their situation or preference.

Participatory Reflection and Action Methods

IIED. Appendix in 'Whose Eden? An Overview of Community Approaches to Wildlife Management', IIED and ODA, London, July 1994. ,1999

This document is an appendix to a book on community approaches to wildlife management. The appendix includes information about the the different ways participatpry reflection and action (PRA) has been used, its common principles, emphasizes the importance of participatory enquiry and collective analysis, and lists the range of tools available to this approach. It also gives some tips on how to implement a PRA programme.

A Handbook for Participatory Action Researchers

Danley, K S and Ellison, M L. Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center Publications and Presentations. 470,1999

This handbook provides guidelines for conducting participatory action research (PAR) with people who have psychiatric disabilities. Although the principles, strategies, examples and learning are drawn from a particular PAR project with people who have a particular disability, the strategies described could be applied in PAR with any other population.

Ethical principles for the conduct of participatory research in the North

ACUNS ,1997

The article outlined the 20 principles intended to encourage the development of co-operation and mutual respect between researchers and people involved.

Pair wise ranking made easy

Russell T,1997

This text explains how to do pair wise ranking, a participatory method for deciding on shared priorities. Each item on a list is compared with the other items on the list in a systematic way. Each choice is compared with all others, one by one. The final ranking and the information shared during implementation both contribute to learning.

PLA Notes 24: Critical Reflections from Practice

Cornwall, A (editor) International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED), United Kingdom, October 1995,1995

This special issue of PLA Notes brings together social anthropologists, policy makers, NGO development workers, economists, ecologists and trainers to reflect critically on the practice of PRA. The range of articles in this issue highlight different perspectives on the successes and challenges of participatory reflection and action, and offer some useful case studies for reflection. Concerns identified include: lack of definition, confusion of objectives, over emphasis on the importance of methods, political positioning of participatory research, ethical issues and the impact

Research for Social Justice: Some North-South Convergences, Plenary Address at the Southern Sociological Society Meeting, Atlanta, April 8, 1995

Fals-Borda O ,1995

The address focused on the social justice and the role social scientists play to achieve it, particularly in Colombia. PAR has helped in understanding conflictual social processes and re-channelling collective energies towards a better course of action for justice and equity. Four guidelines for field research and scientific reporting are outlined: filling in the distance between subject and object, applying narratives, not depending solely on own culture to interpret facts and not imposing own scientific style when communicating results.

Participatory research on workers' health

Laurell AC, Noriega M, Martínez S, Villegas J ,1992

This paper presents action oriented participatory research using a collective questionnaire on characteristics of the labour process, risks and health damage for workers in a steel factory in Mexico. It was implemented by research institutions and trade unions. The paper presents a comparison between the information found on risks, health damage and the risks-health damage relationship found with the collective questionnaire and the findings from use of an individual questionnaire applied at the same steel factory. The results from the two methods were very similar.

Review of Action and Knowledge: Breaking the Monopoly with Participatory Action Research Orlando Fals-Borda and Mohammad Anisur Rahman (Eds.) 1991. New York: Apex Press

Pyrch, T Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 5(2), 66-71.,1991

This article reviews one of the most seminal books in the history of PAR and a major contributor to the liberatory tradition in adult education. Written by Orlando Fals-Borda, a Colombian scholar and activist who worked mainly in Latin America, and Mohammad Anisur Rahman from Bangladesh. The book contains six vivencias or process studies of PAR in the Americas, Asia and Africa contributed by long time practitioners in those continents. This is a gold mine of theory and practice. The review summarises the book by chapter, giving brief summaries and case studies.

White Privilege Checklist

McIntosh P,1989

The “white privilege” checklist developed by Peggy McIntosh supports members of the dominant culture or value system to better understand the unspoken advantages they carry by virtue of their race and how it can affect work with other cultures. This exercise can be used to facilitate a discussion of what unearned privilege means, and how that may affect working relationships with diverse cultures.