Research Methodologies for Community Engagement: Disparate Ideas as Opportunities to Enhance Understanding

Archival Education Research Institute

Research Methodologies for Community Engagement: Disparate Ideas as Opportunities to Enhance Understanding

Schedule Details:

Thursday July 9th 2009

Workshop A: 9.00am to 12.30pm

Dr. Joanne Evans, Melbourne U., eScholarship Research Centre (ESRC) / Monash U., Centre for Organizational and Social Informatics (COSI); Shannon Faulkhead, Monash U.; School of Information Management and Systems; Frank Upward, Monash U.

This workshop will explore cross-disciplinary methods for engendering community engagement and participation in archival science and systems research. The workshop will discuss the participatory and reflexive research methods the presenters used in their doctoral research, as well as the connections that have arisen between them, as part of an evolving methodology for community based research. Participants in the workshop will be involved in an exercise featuring the use of the circuit model of Anthony Gidden’s structuration theory as a tool for identifying and shedding insight on the dynamics of community engagement and participation in such research environments.


9.00 – 10.30 am Session 1: Introduction – to the workshop, to other participations, to community engaged research

  • Presenter and participant introduction (~20 mins)
  •  Who are, where from, background and interest in the workshop
    • Shannon Faulkhead (~10 mins)
    • Challenges of working with communities as researcher and community member
    • Trust and Technology Project
    • Joanne Evans (~10 mins)
    • Researching and developing within recordkeeping continuum community of practice
    • Action research in the Clever Recordkeeping Metadata Project
    • Shannon and Joanne (~5 mins)
    • How our experiences and stories connected (in the pluralise dimension of the records continuum)
    • Frank Upward (~10 mins)
    • Sociological approach to action within community centred research projects
    • Circuit model for structuration theory
    • Attributes of community engaged research (~35 mins)
    • Discussion of the comparison of traditional and community engaged scholarship from ‘Scholarship as Architecture: Framing and Enhancing Community Engagement’
    • Encourage participants to provide examples and to expand/extend the points of comparison

10.30 – 11.00 am – Refreshment Break

11.00 – 12.30 Group Exercise Recordkeeping in community engaged research projects

    • Group Exercise Introduction (~10 mins)
    • Negotiation of the exercise in the light of the morning’s discussion
    • Break into groups and using a community based research project discuss:- (~40 mins)
    • issues of community engagement and participation in the project,
    • methodology and methods of community engagement,
    • ownership and control of records of the community and how that may impact on ownership and control of records used within and created by the research project, and
    • the recordkeeping and archiving functionality that might be involved which will impinge on the issue of archives as property and their physical and intellectual ownership and control.
    • Reporting back on group discussions (~40 mins)
    • Each group to report back on their discussion
    • Brief discussion of how useful the structuration circuit diagram might be as a tool for the ongoing development of checklists for such projects
    • Session review by presenters and participants


Lorilee R Sandmann, ‘Scholarship as Architecture: Framing and Enhancing Community Engagement’, Journal of Physical Therapy Education, vol. 20 no. 3, Winter 2006, pp. 80-84. Available online at

Shannon Faulkhead, Lynette Russell, Diane Singh & Sue McKemmish, ‘Is Community Research Possible Within the Academic Tradition?’, In: Researching With Communities: Grounded Perspectives On Engaging Communities In Research, edited by Andy Williamson & Ruth DeSouza, Auckland: Muddy Creek Press, 2007. pp. 39-56.

Discussion Notes

Some initial prompts for discussion using the structuration model are listed below. The idea is to look for critical factors in any project that can maximise the effectiveness and longevity of the project on the one hand, and on the other to set up a framework for ongoing reference, development, and carry over into other projects.

Issues of community engagement and participation in the project

Reflexive Monitoring of Action

Which communities, including communities of practice, will be involved?

What rights will they want to be respected during the project and ongoing implementation of any output?

What attitudes to monitoring and auditing techniques are likely to be present?

Structural Properties 

What factors will mediate against change and do you expect to need to counter them or work with them?

What resources (including rules) can be drawn upon to maximise the transformative impact of the project?

What economic and business models are likely to be relevant?

Structural Principles

What are the major institutional frameworks touched upon by the project and how can be drawn upon as structural properties?

What ‘cultural capital’ will need to be protected during the project?

Duality of Structure as multiplication agent

How can we maximise the impact of the project by designing it to expand exponentially rather than lapse into end product finalisation?

Recordkeeping and archiving functionality

(Bear in mind that the discussion will focus on intellectual ownership of property and related custody issues)

Reflexive Monitoring of Action

What systems are likely to put in place and to what extent can they be self-managing recordkeeping systems?

What place will ongoing appraisal, description and access play in the system applications?

Are any new jobs going to be created and how can the necessary skills and knowledge for ongoing monitoring and the right mindset be developed?

How will we maintain records of the project and of any ongoing outputs from the project?

Structural Properties 

What information apparatuses are available and how can their use be maximised?

How important will a metadata registry be to the project and how will it be set up?

What resources (including rules) can be drawn upon to maximise the transformative impact of the project?

What different communities of practice can be co-partners or sponsors (e.g. professional groups, third party storage providers, the free culture movement, transparency movements, accountability groups and Internet hubs or nodes? [These are the sort of frameworks that become properties if they are drawn upon for the rules and resources they provide, remembering that it is a circuit model. In relation to structural principles the focus is on the enunciative, facilitative, interpretative, and normative help they can offer]

Structural Principles

How crucial to the project is that any systems that are established be adequate for the creation of new information objects, their capture as records, their organisation in a community archive, and their plural use across communities?

What recordkeeping interventions do you expect to have to make within the use of information apparatuses?

What are the key elements of archival functionality that will need to be signified, legitimated and encoded within the project? Archival functionality within the contingencies of a project can include

    • classification of agents and information objects,
    • appraisal including the storage of what was once labelled temporary material,
    • coping with access regime complexities,   
    • specific occurrence data (some people call this contextual data),
    • preservation of an information object,
    • preservation of functionality.
    • survey data
    • registration processes

Duality of Structure as multiplication agent (same set of questions; different perspectives)

How can we maximise the impact of the project by designing it to expand exponentially rather than lapse into end product finalisation?

How can the role of evidence in justice, plurality and the management of the unknown be injected into the project as an archival target, enhancing the understanding of archival functionality?

Does the project have any ramifications for ‘glocalism’ in archival formation (a local structure for recordkeeping and archiving that can be tailored in many other communities)?