Yesterday, Mukta, Peter and I were at an ACES (Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability) training session on participatory research. For the uninitiated, that means involving "stakeholders" (think we all agreed that's a horrible word) in your research as much as possible and from as early as possible so that they contribute to the outcomes - so highly relevant to all dot.rural projects and activities.
We covered loads of ground: stakeholder analysis, the carousel method, multi-criteria evaluation, grounded theory, semi-structured interviews - some I'd never heard of but all of which I'll use or at least consider using in my PhD work, not necessarily in the ways I'd anticipated. For example, grounded theory can be applied to literature reviews, multi-criteria evaluation to personal decisions and the carousel method to any kind of meeting format (an effective alternative to breakout groups/reporting back), so it's worth attending even if you're not directly engaging with participants. And most of the techniques can be used in pretty much any environment, from hi-tech computer labs to the Kalihari Desert.
In the afternoon we devoted quite a bit of time to interviews, covering consent, trust, legitimacy, body language, cultural sensitivities and the wisdom of wearing v-necks and nose-rings.
Mark Reed (facilitator) used a participatory format for the session so there was a lot of flexibility in the topics covered, we practised some methods in the course of the discussion, and we had plenty of input from fellow participants.
I came away wanting to learn much, much more. Go if you get the chance!