Research as Participatory Process: Participative and Reflective Methods

9 Nov 2020

The final seminar in the ISS21 Creative Research Methodologies Seminar Series 2020 explored the use of participative and reflective research methods. Papers were made available to watch on the ISS21 website in advance of an online discussion with the presenters, Rebecca Dennehy, Monica O’Mullane, Siobhan O’Sullivan and Katie Power, on Monday 9 November. The seminar was chaired by Dr Margaret Scanlon, ISS21 Research Coordinator.

Seminar Papers

A brief outline of the papers and links to the recordings are provided below (please click on the paper title). 

Collaborating with Young People in Cyberbullying Research: The Implementation and Evaluation of a Rights-Based Approach

Rebecca Dennehy (School of Public Health), Dr. Sarah Meaney (National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre), Mary Cronin (School of Public Health) & Professor Ella Arensman (National Suicide Research Foundation), UCC


This paper demonstrates the use of creative methodologies with secondary school students in the conduct of a study to explore young people’s conceptualisations of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is a multifaceted public health issue among young people. Adults do not have first-hand experience of cyberbullying in their youth, therefore, intervention development can benefit from youth engagement. Using a rights-based approach and participatory methods, a Young Person’s Advisory Group was established comprising 16 students from four secondary schools. Students met with researchers on five occasions at a local youth service. Sessions focused on the design, conduct and interpretation of a qualitative study of young people’s experiences of cyberbullying and on the identification of intervention priorities. An evaluation of the collaboration process was also conducted.

Developing a Guided Reflection (GR) Tool in a Gender Equality Change Management Project: A Researcher's Own Experience

Dr Monica O’Mullane, MSCA Fellow, ISS21, UCC


This paper explores a guided reflection (GR) tool developed and used in a gender equality change management project, under the EC funded GENOVATE project. The project involved seven partners from across Europe, each partner implementing a change management programme in their university setting. A guided reflection framework, which included verbal reflective discussions and written reflections, was developed and implemented to facilitate the collection of narratives and stories on the experience of gender transformation within the university institutions. The tool sought to capture the change processes ongoing within and across the institutions, and was informed by and developed, and owned, in an engaged way by all partners. The resulting outcome was a successful application of the GR framework, with findings indicating that participants found the opportunity to share and reflect useful.

Using Rap as a Creative Method in Research with Children and Young People 

Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan, Professor Cathal O’Connell (School of Applied Social Studies, UCC) and Dr Lorcan Byrne (Department of Applied Social Sciences, LIT)


This paper explores how rap music workshops can be an effective method when researching neighbourhood regeneration with children and young people, especially in disadvantaged communities. The paper draws on research with 78 children and young people in a large social housing estate which is undergoing regeneration and refurbishment in Cork City, with a focus on a sub-group of six teenagers who participated in a rap workshop. The research demonstrates that rap music workshops are an insightful data collection method, particularly in contexts where rap music is already an embedded part of the local youth culture. This research also reveals how children and young people have the imaginative capacity to make an informed analysis of their communities and that they hold a strong desire to influence the decision-making process. This paper will be of interest to researchers concerned with creative methodologies designed to elicit and understand children’s and young people’s experiences and perspectives.

Use of Design Theory in Creating Research Methods to Ensure Inclusive Engagement with Participants

Katie Power (Law) & Dr Briony Supple (CIRTL), UCC.


This paper focusses on qualitative research undertaken at CIT, UCC and University College London (UCL) which seeks to evidence the user experience of learning spaces in new builds and refurbishments in three Universities situated in Ireland and the United Kingdom. The data was collected in order to gauge the following: How do students and staff feel about and connect with these spaces on a day to day basis and how can university leaders nurture these connections in a healthy and meaningful way?  Qualitative research depends on harnessing the human voice in an inclusive way and therefore a mixture of three key research methods were used in a pop up data collection session – observation with use of a rubric, think aloud, and creative visual tools using an interactive sticker choice activity.  These methods allow authentic questioning of users in the context of the spaces themselves, key in assessing textual data, per Carter and Little (2007).  

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