Participant-Making: Bridging the Gulf Between Community Knowledge and Academic Research

Ann Light, Paul Egglestone, Tom Wakeford, Jon Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe a project that brings together academic and community research partners to look at how issues of knowledge, power and voice are handled in setting up participative projects. This project, Participants United, was conceived to address the way that academic knowledge is often privileged at the expense of other insights and ways of knowing. To explore this state of affairs, we designed activities to involve community participants from a range of existing partnerships so that we could collaboratively research the experience of being researched. One of the complex features of this approach is that in researching participation live with community groups, we were simultaneously enacting a particular version of it. Given this, we discuss in the paper how we planned for a balanced exchange of ideas at our project summit. We touch on the meaning of ‘informed consent’ - required for the ethics approval process in many countries - and consider how to share credit, encourage diverse opinion and ensure some value in participating for all participants. We reflect on how we, as academic researchers, became participants and what we made available to our partners in research to do the same.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
JournalJournal of Community Informatics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • participation
  • ethics
  • ownership
  • reflexivity
  • voice
  • creative commons


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