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This article presents an innovative framework to evaluate participatory research. The framework, comprising both a methodology and a self-assessment tool, was developed through a participatory approach to knowledge production and mobilisation. This process took place over the last two years as we, a multidisciplinary team made up of researchers and community-based organisation members from the Groupe de recherche et de formation sur la pauvreté au Québec, were building a scientific program on social injustices and participatory research.
We argue that participatory research can help provide a university-community co-constructed response to epistemic injustices embedded within the processes of knowledge production. From our perspective, the mobilisation of knowledge from the university and the community, initiated at the earliest stages of the creation of a research team, is part of a critical approach to the academic production of knowledge. It also constitutes a laboratory for observing, understanding and attempting to reduce epistemic injustices through building bridges between team members.
The article focuses on two dimensions of the framework mentioned above: (1) The methodology we established to build co-learning spaces at the crossroads of university and community-based organisations (recruitment of a coordinator to organise and facilitate the workshops, informal and friendly meetings, regular clarification of the process and rules of operation, time for everyone to express themselves, informal preparatory meetings for those who wanted them, financial compensation where required, etc.); and (2) A self-assessment tool available in open access that we built during the process to help academics and their partners engage in a reflexive evaluation of participatory research processes from the point of view of epistemic injustices. Throughout we pay particular attention to challenges inherent in our research program and our responses, and finish with some concluding thoughts on key issues that emerged over the course of two years’ research.
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