Engagement and Participation

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Engagement and participatory research recognises that the challenges facing our society are complex and that the entire community has a role to play in finding the solutions.

To us, citizens are not just ‘respondents’ – they are active players in the research process and agents of social change. All have a valuable contribution to make in generating ideas and setting priorities.

What we do

We use a range of participatory and deliberative research methods to help our clients engage with their key audiences in a positive and meaningful way. Our approaches provide stakeholders with the time and resources they need to think through and offer opinions on complex social issues. We bring members of the public together with policy makers and service providers to resolve conflict and come up with innovative and workable solutions.

Our methods

  • Deliberative events 
    These are half day or day-long events in which representatives of a community work intensively with researchers and clients on an issue of mutual interest. This process may combine elements of qualitative research, brainstorming and problem-solving with deliberative polling. It may involve large numbers of people from all walks of life and a team of skilled facilitators. The length of the workshops and breadth of tools used allows for a deeper and richer exploration of issues than would otherwise be possible with conventional focus groups or workshops.
  • Bi-focal workshops
    A unique way of helping representatives of different stakeholder groups to gain insight into each others’ attitudes and perspectives on an issue they both care about deeply, but perceive in different ways. The basic structure involves bringing together small groups of people representing two different stakeholder audiences. Each group has the opportunity to observe a discussion between members of the other stakeholder group, before coming together to brainstorm shared solutions.
  • Peer interviewing
    Members of the public are recruited to conduct research with people from their own community. This approach is particularly effective in conducting research with culturally and linguistically diverse communities, disenfranchised youth, drug addicts and homeless people.
  • Person-centred consultations
    Adopting a person-centred approach to consumer consultation is especially important in the health sector, aged care and disabilities research, where conventional research methods can unintentionally exclude people from taking part. This means conducting research on the consumers’ terms,  at a time and place and in a manner that suits them. While researchers are guided by general discussion points about the service or experience in question, there is a heavier emphasis on empathic listening methods, and allowing participants to focus on what really matters to them.
  • Citizen’s juries
    Usually take place over 2-3 days, during which participants (or ‘jurors’) work through a certain question or issue. To help with their deliberations, they hear evidence from a variety of ‘specialist witnesses’ who present arguments on different sides of the debate. Jurors are given the time and space to scrutinise information given to them before reaching a conclusion.