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PhD Summer School

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Participatory research practice

When researching technology and how people experience, develop, appropriate, envision, participate and interact with it, a key mode of research is involving others – experts, professionals, amateurs and  users alike – in the research design and process. Traditional Scandinavian participatory design have, as a base ideological premise, been on the side of one particular group and involved this group in the becomings of technology [Bansler 1989].  Action research, in addition, emphasises not only understanding research issues and their implications in a given practice, but also playing a role in changing the particular situation to the better [Hayes 2011]. This has since been developed into a research community with the Participatory Design conference, journals (e.g. Co-Design) and multiple views on what it means to involve participants in research, why it is important, how it can be done, who to involve and when.

A cursory literature review not only indicates the broadness of the subject, but also reveals that participation as a concept is both popular, contested and difficult to integrate into a research project. Dependent on viewpoint, participation can be a catalogue of techniques for involving stakeholders in the design process, for others an object of analysis, an ontology or even a political device. Regardless, involving others in a research project is not trivial and often requires a different (re)flexibility in balancing research objectives with opportunity and insights.

The purpose of the PhD summer school is to invite PhD students to present, discuss and reflect on their research and methodology related to the subject of participation in their research. We want to invite PhD students to present and discuss their work with a focus on the following themes:

· Touch points for participation: When, where and how are others involved in the research. Are participants part of a design driven process, e.g. ideation, co-creation or prototyping? Are the participants brief visitors in the project or core collaborators? How are they participating?

· Participatory research: What are the motivation for involving others in the research and what is their role? Do they provide challenges, conceptual framing or context to the research? Do the participate in shaping the research agenda (objectives)?

· Interpreting participation: What insights do the participatory elements provide? In what form? How are participation informing the research question? How are the results interpreted and what considerations or implications does participatory research pose for the interpretation of research data?

· Serving two masters: How does researchers balance their research agenda and the interests by other participating stakeholders? Does the participation end when the research ends? What other skills and competencies does participatory research demand of the researcher? How does involving others in research projects challenge the PhD student?

The PhD summer school will be held together with the Participatory IT summer event. This provides an opportunity for participating in the scheduled talks and social events, as well as involving senior researchers in the activities in the PhD summer school.


When: From Sunday the 10th of August from 17.00 to Saturday 16th of August at 17.00.

Where: Aarhus University, Denmark (Venue details to be announced later)

The summer school will award participating students with 5 ECTS on completion.

How to participate?

Sign up by submitting a 2-page description of yourself and your research project to bodker@cs.au.dk. Participants should ideally touch on selected themes outlined above.

Deadline for applying: June 25th 2014

There are 10 available seats.

Applicants will know before July 1st 2014