Participatory Research: Still a One-Sided Research Agenda?




qualitative methods, participatory research, migrants, refugees, creative methods


Despite the prevalence of the term over the last two decades, scholars have not agreed on a definition of, or approach towards, participation, although critiques have emphasised that participation is not an equal process for all parties involved. By reviewing the literature and giving examples from fieldwork carried out in Lebanon, this article agrees with the common critique around participation and reflects over the limitations resulting from inherent power imbalances between researchers and participants and among community members. It also argues that the “glorification of methods” alone disguises the politics and the one-sided nature of participatory research and disregards the question of to what extent participants are involved in the construction of the methodology. This article suggests that – despite the pressure from funders to find out innovative methods – participatory researchers would benefit from understanding participants’ own ways of conceptualising and investigating a phenomenon, in order to build their methodology. This article explores these questions, particularly in research with migrants and refugees.  

* This article is published as part of the Refugees are Migrants: Refugee Mobility, Recognition and Rights (RefMig) Project, a Horizon 2020 award funded by the European Research Council (grant number 716968).


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Author Biography

Derya Ozkul, University of Oxford

Dr Derya Ozkul is a postdoctoral researcher at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford. Her current research focuses on the construction of vulnerability criteria in particular in refugee recognition and resettlement processes.




How to Cite

Ozkul, D. (2020). Participatory Research: Still a One-Sided Research Agenda?. Migration Letters, 17(2), 229–237.