Designing Research Together
Collaborative forms of research, involve all participants working together right from the start of a research project. If questions are mutually agreed, and the design of research is shared, then the research should have a better chance of producing knowledge that is relevant and useful to its context and participants.
Research design is often undertaken away from research sites, and hence is not rooted in practice nor does it always feed into practice. This can compromise key principles such as [2.03 Research as Activism] and [3.01 Making a Difference].
Designing research questions together is a starting point for collaborative research, and underpins the development of collaborative research approaches such as [3.03 Participatory Action Research] and democratic approaches such as [3.05 Citizen Science].
Other stages of research processes may also be conducted collaboratively - though see [2.01 An agreed level of collaboration]. This may include sesigning methods that are appropriate to the questions and research site, analysis and theorisation.
The analysis of research findings is often something of a black box. A lot of time and energy is spent learning and thinking about research methods, but analysis is frequently a private activity, undertaken by individuals rather than groups. In research where there is collaboration, e.g. between academics and Transition, it's appropriate for analysis to be shared. There are usually several stages of analysis, and lots of ways of sharing it. But however this is done, it strengthens the findings, making them more robust, accountable, inclusive and representative.
Theorising - making sense of what has been observed or experienced - is not the preserve of academics, although it is often presented as an elite and exclusive activity. We can all theorise our lives and the world. Research can be strengthened and enriched by collaborative theorising, where a range of people have input into the findings, analysis, interpretation and implications of research.
A proviso is expressed in [3.07 Detached Research], as it emerged from the research with Transitions that there can be value in certain circumstances in research which does not involve collaboration at any stage.
If questions are mutually agreed, and the design of research is shared, then the research should have a better chance of producing knowledge that is relevant and useful to its context and participants.