Opening up for Many Voices in Knowledge Construction


  • Marit Borg Buskerud University College
  • Bengt Karlsson Buskerud University College
  • Hesook Suzie Kim Buskerud University College
  • Brendan McCormack Buskerud University College



participatory research, action research, mental health practice, knowledge construction


The key epistemological assumption in participatory research is the belief that knowledge is embedded in the lives and experiences of individuals and that knowledge is developed only through a cooperative process between researchers and experiencing individuals. There are various notions about the nature and processes of participation in this type of research. This paper focuses on specific processes that are used for a "genuine" participation by experiencing individuals as research participants. It also identifies processes that are critical for researchers to engage with, in order to become pro-participatory in their approaches to qualitative research. The paper draws on a particular project as an exemplar—"The Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Project." This project uses various participatory research processes to elicit and include voices of health-care professionals, service users, and family members. The main objective of the research project is to develop knowledge for new forms of community-based practices for people experiencing mental health crisis. We present the participatory research methodology applied in this research, and discuss two sets of processes used to enhance "participation" in research—one set to encourage and elicit participation by research participants; and the other set to engage researchers in reflection within the participatory research process. This will mitigate the paucity of literature regarding the processes and approaches necessary to make participatory research truly "participatory" both for research participants and researchers.



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Author Biographies

Marit Borg, Buskerud University College

Marit BORG, PhD, BOT, is a Professor in mental health care at the Department of Health Sciences, Buskerud University College, Drammen, Norway, and at Haukeland University Hospital, MoodNet Research Group, Bergen, Norway.

Bengt Karlsson, Buskerud University College

Bengt KARLSON, PhD, RN, is a Professor in mental health care at the Department of Health Sciences, Buskerud University College, Drammen, Norway, and at Stavanger University, Stavanger, Norway.

Hesook Suzie Kim, Buskerud University College

Hesook Suzie KIM, PhD, RN, Professor Emerita, College of Nursing, University of Rhode Island, USA; and Project Direct for Research Programs, Institute of Health, Buskerud University College, Drammen, Norway.

Brendan McCormack, Buskerud University College

Brendan McCORMACK, D.Phil (Oxon.), BSc (Hons.), PGCEA, RNT, RMN, RGN; Professor of Nursing Research, University of Ulster, and at Buskerud University College, Drammen, Norway; Adjunct Professor of Nursing, University of Technology, Sydney; Adjunct Professor of Nursing, Monash University, Melbourne; Honorary Professor, University of Aberdeen.




How to Cite

Borg, M., Karlsson, B., Kim, H. S., & McCormack, B. (2012). Opening up for Many Voices in Knowledge Construction. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 13(1).