Participatory Action Research (PAR) is collaborative research, education and action used to gather information to use for change on social or environmental issues. It involves people who are concerned about or affected by an issue taking a leading role in producing and using knowledge about it.
Many names are now used to describe research processes that are in some way ‘participatory’: e.g. Participatory Appraisal, Participatory Learning and Action, Community-Based Participatory Research.
PAR is distinct because:
- it is driven by participants (a group of people who have a stake in the environmental issue being researched), rather than an outside sponsor, funder or academic (although they may be invited to help);
- it offers a democratic model of who can produce, own and use knowledge
- it is collaborative at every stage, involving discussion, pooling skills and working together; and
- it is intended to result in some action, change or improvement on the issue being researched.