Taking Part from a Distance: Doing Participatory Research during Covid-19, an IET literature review 

By Johanna Hall

Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on how we live, work and do research (Ruppel, 2020), and most significantly when that research involves working closely with those in the field to build trust and co-produce knowledge. Participatory approaches such as Participatory Action Research (PAR) seek to improve social practice through a reflexive process of planning, implementing, observing and reflecting (McTaggart, 1989), and maintaining equity and openness between participants and researchers.  

When social distancing needs to be maintained or travel to fieldwork sites becomes disrupted due to lockdown measures, how can we ensure the equity and openness of participatory approaches are maintained? Furthermore, how can we support participants, especially those in developing countries which may still be experiencing the negative effects of lockdown, through what is, arguably, one of the most stressful global events in recent history? And how can equal-power relationships be maintained between researchers and participants if they are geographically dispersed, sometimes in dramatically different social and economic climates?  Continue reading