Skip to main content
Search form
  • 00:10

    CLARE LUSHEY: My name's Clare Lusheyand I'm a research associate at the Center for Childand Family Research at Loughborough University.And today, I'm going to be talking about the peer researchmethodology, which is a participatory researchmethod, where members of the research groupadopt the role of active researcher.And I'm going to be talking about someof the challenges and the benefitsthat I and other academics mix using this methodology

  • 00:32

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: have experienced.Levels of peer research involvement in the researchcycle can include developing the research proposal.So that's designing the research study, developing datacollection tools, such as surveys and your interviewguides, actually carrying out some of the data collection,

  • 00:53

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: so for example, undertaking face to face interviews.And then, also being involved in analysis of the dataand disseminating the findings as well, so for example,through contributing to writing report for the researchparticipants or presenting at conferences and events.

  • 01:14

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: There are a number of advantages to using the peer researchmethodology.And the first is empowering the research groupby giving them a voice.And it's based on the notion of doing researchwith and for the research participants, rather than onand about them.Secondly, it minimizes the power imbalance between researchparticipant and researcher.

  • 01:36

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: That's because research participantsare likely to find peer researchers lessintimidating than, for example, academic researchesor practitioners or even an older adult,where for example, a child is participating in a researchstudy or an evaluation.So thirdly, it can result in a better rapport between researchparticipant and researcher, because the research

  • 01:56

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: participant is likely to be able to relate to the peerresearcher more due to their shared understandingof the topic and also their sort of mutual experiencesof the topic under investigation.And finally, another advantage isthat the peer researchers who have lived experienceof the topic under investigation actuallyenhances us academic researchers understanding of the topic area

  • 02:18

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: as well.These are advantages have the potential to reduce study biasand also improve the quality of the data obtained.And that's why we chose to use this methodology for twoevaluations that I worked on at Loughborough University.So we use the peer research methodology on two evaluations

  • 02:40

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: that I worked on at Loughborough University.And these are UK initiatives called Right2BeCared4 and alsothe Staying Put 18+ Family Placement program.Right2BeCared4 is based on principlesand those are that young people in state careshould not be expected to leave until they reach18 years old, that they should have greatersay in the decision making process preceding

  • 03:01

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: their exit from care, and that their transition to independentshould be properly planned and they should be fully prepared.The Staying Put 18+ Family Placement program is for youngpeople who are in foster care.And it allows them to stay in their placement post18 years old, so post-adulthood, up to the age of 21.And this has been enshrined in law under the Children

  • 03:22

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: and Families Act of 2014.So we worked with 28 peer researchersacross both evaluations and the peerresearchers who were young adults whohad spent time in care themselvesbut had left as adults.And they were involved in the evaluations,pretty much from the start, so the majority of the researchcycle.So they were involved in developing the research

  • 03:44

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: questions to be included in the surveys and the interviewguides.They were involved in the data collection phase.So they undertook survey administrationand also face to face interviews with research participants.They assisted with the analysis of the data collectedfrom the interviews.And they also contributed to disseminating the findings

  • 04:05

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: through working with us to develop a report, whichwas for children and young peopleand included findings from the interviews that they undertook.The peer researchers took part in three training events.And these focused on training them in research methods.The first training event involved introductionsand an outline of what the evaluations would involve

  • 04:26

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: and the key tasks.And they actually also took part in their first researchactivity, which was to develop the questions whichwere to be included in the surveysand also the interview guides.The second training event focusedon training the peer researchers in interview techniques.And that involved supporting them to develop their interviewtechniques, listening skills, prompting

  • 04:49

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: and probing to elicit further information from researchparticipants, and also note taking during the interviews.The third training event involvedteaching the peer researchers to undertake thematic analysisand then actually carrying out that activity.And we also worked together to develop reports, which werefor young people and children.

  • 05:14

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: There are a number of challenges and benefitsto undertake in the peer research approach.And I'm going to talk about them now.I'm going to focus on recruitment and retentionof peer researchers, arranging interviews, and alsodata quality.Firstly, I'm gonna talk about recruitmentof peer researchers.So the desire to be inclusive should not take precedence

  • 05:35

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: over selecting peer researchers thatcan, with training, actually carry out the activities thatare required for an evaluation.And this is because, as researchers, weare responsible for undertaking, obviously,quality, reliable, and valid research.But there were challenges to the recruitment and retentionof the peer researchers.

  • 05:56

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: And I'm gonna go through those now and talk about howwe address those issues.The peer researchers were given a job descriptionwhich detailed aspects of the evaluationand what the key tasks were involved.So they were able to make an informed decision as towhether they wanted to take part as peer researchers or not.And then, also, at the first training event,we obviously outlined further the evaluation

  • 06:18

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: on the main activities that that would involve so that theycould make an even more informed decision about whether theywanted to continue as peers researchers.At this stage, only two peer researcherson both the evaluations decided that they did notwant to continue as a peer researcher.Following on from this, the reasonsthe peer researchers has decided notto continue to be involved in the evaluation varied.

  • 06:41

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: The two peers researches' recent criminal convictionsand allegations meant that they were not able to undertakeface to face interviews.However, we gave them the option of continuingto be involved in other aspects of the evaluation.Finally, in three cases, peer researchersdropped out of the evaluation due to other commitments.Obviously, it's worth bearing in mindthat peer researchers aren't salaried, full-time academics.

  • 07:04

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: So they are likely to have other commitments,such as education, work, or even being a full-time parent.And so obviously, it's worthwhile bearing in mindthat these will take precedent over the evaluation.As such, we advise recruiting additional peer researchesand factoring time to train these peer researchers to beinvolved in the evaluation.

  • 07:25

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: And we also recommend that peer researchers are paidto undertake the interviews.The second challenge I wanted to talk aboutwas arranging interviews between peer researchers and researchparticipants.It was decided that the peer researchers wouldn't undertakeinterviews in their local area.That's because they had spent time in care themselves

  • 07:46

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: and were young adults.And it was possible that they mightknow some of the young people in carethat were taking part as researchparticipants in the evaluation.So instead, it was decided that they would undertake interviewsin a different area.This made it more complex, with regards to logistics.Some of the young people were traveling quite far.

  • 08:07

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: And due to their age and because theywere in unfamiliar locations, we decidedthat it was important for them to have support staff there aswell that would go with them.Now, the support staff didn't sit in on the interviews.But they did collect them from the train station.And they were in the same buildingthat the interviews were taking placeso that they could be on hand if the peer researchers had

  • 08:30

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: any questions.This meant that, logistically, it was quite challenging,because we had to arrange interviewsat a date and a time that was suitable for the peerresearcher, the support staff, and also the researchparticipant as well.And as a result, we had to extend the framesfor both evaluations.For the first, it was by one month.

  • 08:50

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: And for the second evaluation it was by three months.The final key challenge that I wanted to talk aboutwas data quality.Peer researchers will be inexperiencedcompared to academic researchers who, at a minimum,will have a degree and also several yearsexperience as a researcher.However, they bring their insightand lived experience of the topic on the investigation.

  • 09:13

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: In addition to this, obviously, the peer researcheswere given training in data collection.And in general, the data that they gathered was high quality.However, at times there were variations in the qualityof the data collected.Some peer researchers struggled to process information quicklyduring the interviews.And as such, they then asked either repetitive questions

  • 09:35

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: or unsuitable questions suggesting that perhaps theyneeded some more training with regards to undertakinginterviews and listening skills.Some peers researchers also failedto probe to find additional information whena topic was under discussion.And as such, we had to remind themto ask follow-up questions in orderto gather further information about a topic.

  • 09:57

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: I would therefore advise holding meetings with peer researchersafter their first few interviews.This means then that you can give them some further adviceand training where required.And also, it gives the peer researchersan opportunity to give their feedbackabout their experiences of undertaking interviews.

  • 10:20

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: So I wanted to end by talking about the benefitsfor the researchers and also for the peers researcherswhen adopting this methodology.Using the peer research methodologyled to a unique interpretation of the data.And also, in addition to this, the peer researcherswere able to advise on very practical recommendationsfor social work practice in the future.

  • 10:42

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: The benefits for the peer researcherswere they developed their knowledge of the subjectarea and also research methods.And they were also able to developa lot of transferable skills, such as teamwork,communication, and organizational skills.

  • 11:03

    CLARE LUSHEY [continued]: To conclude, the peer research methodologygives a voice to the research groupand can yield high quality, rich, in-depth data.However, these benefits are not automatic.We advise careful recruitments, continued training and support,and also additional resources in order to effectively usethis methodology.

  • 11:23



Dr. Clare Lushey explores the benefits and drawbacks of using the peer research methodology.

Looks like you do not have access to this content.

Exploring Transitions from State Care to Adulthood Using Peer Research Methodology

Dr. Clare Lushey explores the benefits and drawbacks of using the peer research methodology.

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website