International Journal of Qualitative Methods
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Within research addressing issues of social justice, there is a growing uptake of participatory action research (PAR) approaches that are ideally committed to equitable participation of community members in all phases of the research process in order to collaboratively enact social transformation. However, the utilization of such approaches has not always matched the ideal, with inconsistencies in how participation and action are incorporated. “Participation” within various research processes is displayed differently, with the involvement of community members varying from full participation to their involvement as simply participants for data collection. Similarly, “action” is varyingly enacted from researchers proposing research implications for policy and practice to the meaningful involvement of community members in facilitating social change. This inconsistency in how PAR is utilized, despite widespread publications outlining key principles and central tenets, suggests there are challenges preventing researchers from fully embracing and enacting the central tenets of equitable participation and social transformation. This article intends to provide one way forward, for scholars intending to more fully enact the central tenets of PAR, through critically discussing how, and to what extent, the principles of PAR were enacted within 14 key exemplars of PAR conducted with older adults. More specifically, we display and discuss key principles for enacting the full commitment of PAR, highlight a critical appraisal guide, critically analyze exemplars, and share strategies that researchers have used to address these commitments. The critical appraisal guide and associated research findings provide useful directions for researchers who desire to more fully embrace commitments and practices commensurate with enacting the promise of PAR for equitable collaboration and social transformation.
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