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Sgoil Cheumnaichean Saidheans Sòisealta na h-Alba

When Methods Meet

Co-production and Participatory Research


In this 17-minute film Nick Jenkins and Peter Matthews discuss a range of issues relating to two approaches to research that are quite often bracketed together but which are not identical. They note that co-production involves different forms of knowledge being brought together, but that participatory research aims to challenge and disrupt power relationships found in more traditional research that draws a rigid distinction between researchers and people being researched. Examples of both approaches being employed are discussed, including some of the challenges that arise, such as where academics and community partners are operating with different ideas about the sorts of outcomes that are desirable, although there is not necessarily a trade-off between academic publications and provision of resources in a neighbourhood. Emphasis is placed not only on outcomes but also on the process by which research is undertaken, and time spent building trust between different people involved in research is important in this respect. The conversation also touches on several issues relating to ethics that co-production and participatory research raise, such as consent being something to be monitored continuously, and pragmatic considerations about the right thing to do. Looking to the future, the idea is put forward that the direction of travel is towards a situation in which academic researchers play a more facilitative role as research question and agenda-setting is increasingly driven by community and other partners. These approaches are presented as less predictable but potentially more enjoyable and rewarding than conventional approaches to knowledge production.

Academics in conversation: Dr Nick Jenkins, University of the West of Scotland  (webpage: and Dr Peter Matthews, University of Stirling (webpage:


  • Beebeejaun, Y., Durose, C., Rees, J., Richardson, J. and Richardson, L., 2014, “Beyond text”: exploring ethos and method in co-producing research with communities, Community Development Journal, 49, 1, 37-53
  • Burawoy M (2005a) The critical turn to public sociology. Critical Sociology 31(3): 313–326.
  • Burawoy M (2005b) For public sociology. American Sociological Review 70(1): 4–28.
  • Jenkins, N., Strange, L., Keyes, S (2016). Creating vignettes of early-onset dementia: An exercise in public sociology. Sociology 50(1): 77-92
  • Matthews, P., 2016, Social media, community development and social capital, Community Development Journal, 51, 3, 419-435
  • Matthews, P., Connelly, S., O’Brien, D., Astbury, J., Brown, J. and Brown, L., 2015, Doing and Evaluating Community Research: A process and outcomes approach for communities and researchers, Stirling: University of Stirling
  • Scottish Dementia Working Group Research Sub-Group (2014) Core Principles for Involving People with Dementia in Research.  URL: 


We have created a downloadble resource sheet for this video. It has a transcript of the conversation, the list of references, and suggested seminar questions.