Advocating beyond the academy: dilemmas of communicating relevant research results

Catrina Mackenzie, Julia Christensen, Sarah Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Drawing from experiences in Northern Indigenous Canada, Uganda, and Vietnam, we discuss the challenges encountered while trying to communicate relevant results to local communities with whom we work. Wavering between participatory and advocacy research, we explore how we grapple with finding the right audience with whom to share results, our attempts to craft communication to be relevant within specific contexts, and dilemmas over self-censorship. We also document our struggles to manage our own expectations and those of the communities with whom we work regarding the ability of our research to broker change. This article emerged from our frustration at wanting to be accountable to our interviewee communities, but finding few academic articles that go beyond ideals to examine how researchers often struggle to meet these expectations. While participatory approaches are increasingly mainstreamed in social science work, we argue that advocacy research can be a more appropriate response to community needs in certain cases
Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Research
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)105-121
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • participatory
  • action research
  • qualitative
  • fieldwork

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