Opening communicative space: what do co-researchers contribute?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes


Current participatory research literature describes different approaches to
involving service users in research, draws out lessons to be learned from
the process and begins to address the difficult question of the impact of
service user involvement on the research outcomes. However, very limited
attention has been given to analysing in detail ‘what goes on’ in interviews
carried out by service users or considering what difference their
interactions make to the interview content and process. This paper draws
on principles of conversation analysis (CA) and member categorisation
analysis (MCA) to examine how co-researchers and participants practically
accomplish research interviews. Using Habermas’s distinction between
communicative and strategic action as a framework, the paper addresses
the questions of whether and how co-researchers open communicative
space in semi-structured interviews. Two dimensions are highlighted in the
analysis: co-researchers’ interviewing skills and their ability to forge
connections with participants. It is concluded that both components are
necessary to open communicative space and generate co-produced
knowledge. This detailed empirically-grounded analysis of coresearcher/
participant interactions is both innovative and significant in
enhancing understanding of co-researcher contributions to participatory


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalQualitative Research
Early online date17 Apr 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Apr 2018


  • Participatory research , Conversation analysis, Service user involvement