Today we, the four PhD students of the UserAge program had a workshop together with SH, a PostDoc at the UserAge program, at the School of Socal Work in Lund. From 11.30 am to 4 pm we discussed empirical, methodological and process-oriented issues in relation to our doctoral studies. Some of the issues that were brought up were:

  • To participate “actively” in research can be interpreted in various ways by researchers and potential participants. This is a finding/result both from IB’s and CM’s studies. How to deal with the fact that the concept is understood so differently by researchers in relation to participants?
  • “Knowledge users” - a problematic term. JF has decided to rather speak of “citizens and professionals” and CM is considering “lay persons/people” in order to avoid the term.
  • “Evidence-based” needs to contain three “legs” according to definition by Sackett et al.
  • Should changing current practices to become more “fair” or “democratic” be an explicit goal of user involvement, thus “empowering” people. Based on SH’s perspective this seems to be the underlying focus, but how do the PhD projects relate to this?
  • Research vs. design/development - How integrated/synthesized are they and how integrated/synthesized should they be? OJ make a clear distinction but how fruitful is that separation and who does it serve? JF suggested that in applied fields like ours, solely focusing on producing knowledge can be a way of not sufficiently engaging with real-world problems.
  • Psychological discourse analysis - method employed by CM related to “shadowed data”. SH suggested to look into “Personal epistemologies”.
  • In relation to CL’s studies, representativeness was discussed. SH associated to different democracy models, such as representative democracy vs. direct democracy. The direct democracy is not necessarily “better” even if it could be argued to be more democratic. People do not necessarily want to be so involved. It is not just a matter of willingness but also relates to self-esteem, interest, time, and that when it comes to certain issues one might prefer to hand over one’s voice to those who are considered better acquainted with it. CM said that in her first study one finding was that informal carers consider themselves to be able to contribute with experience and practical knowledge but not have sufficient theoretical research-related knowledge.
  • In relation to CL’s and JF’s usage of the term “professional”, SH pointed out that there is a research field called the study of professions (Professionsforskning), where a profession has a somewhat different meaning and different connotations compared to how the term is being employed by us. This might be good to be aware of.
  • JF expressed concerns related to his study IV and the tricky position of doing an “evaluation” of a movement that he himself was a part of and financed by. Both CM in her first study and to some extent CL in one of her studies had some experience of “evaluating” efforts designed by their supervisors and expressed that it was possible but that the questions needed to be asked in a certain way. SH suggested to stick close to the documentation and relate to what was brought up and not brought up there. However, CM responded that the documents were not to be considered “facts” but rather more likely polished versions of what had occurred.
  • CL said she was taking a course in Kappa writing at LU in November and asked if others were interested to join as well.