More about Community-led Action Research 

To understand what community-led action research is about, it can help to think about the terms “community-led” and “action research” separately.

Why Community-led?

By community-led we mean research defined, undertaken, analysed and evidenced by members of a community themselves. The ‘community’ could be a geographic community, a community of identity or community of interest. The important thing is that the community is not just the ‘subject’ of the research; members of the community are doing the research.

Why Action Research?

Action research means research that is conducted to bring about social change. It starts from a recognition that there are injustices in society that need to be addressed. The research is then planned and carried out with the intention of influencing change and tackling injustice.

Another aspect of action research is that it uses research tools and methods that suit the situation. Examples include drawings, photography, video diaries, drop in sessions and story dialogue. These methods can be used in conjunction with, or instead of, traditional methods such as questionnaires.

People involved in action research are informed of the results of the research in ways that are appropriate to engaging them and showing the importance of their contribution.

Why use community-led action research?

The aim of community-led action research is to make a difference to the problems or issues that affect people’s lives. It is more likely that this aim will be achieved if the people who directly experience these issues have a big part in identifying, researching and addressing them.

Furthermore, community-led action research helps to build the skills and confidence of individuals and communities to achieve positive change and influence decisions which affect them.

Support and training may be required for those undertaking the research. Any extra investment is well worth the time. In addition to obtaining high quality research information, a community action research approach delivers the following benefits:

  • increased capacity and confidence individually and in community groups.

  • increased skills base which can be used again and which is transferable.

  • community members will be more aware and supportive of community organisations that use community-led action research.

  • evidence which communities can use to successfully argue the need for change in services and support for their community.