Shaping: The Co-creation of a Research Design

  • Tineke Abma
  • Sarah Banks
  • Tina Cook
  • Sónia Dias
  • Wendy Madsen
  • Jane Springett
  • Michael T. Wright

Chapter Summary


In this chapter you will be led step-by-step in the process of defining the focus of the research, together with your local research team comprised of key stakeholders (community members, service providers, decision-makers, academics, etc.). This consists of formulating research questions and goals which take into account the various perspectives of those involved. Exercises are presented to assist you in facilitating a group process for defining the focus. Short examples throughout the chapter illustrate the concepts discussed.


To guide you in setting the focus of the research together with key stakeholders (community members, service providers, decision-makers, academics, etc.) by defining common questions and goals.

Central Question

How do we define our research questions and goals?


Assessing feasibility Identifying interests Setting the research topic Formulating the research question and goal 

Further Reading and Sources of Inspiration

  1. Cyrilla van der Donk, Bas van Lanen and colleagues have published a textbook on practitioner research in social work and health care: Dutch Edition: van der Donk, C., & van Lanen, B. (2015). Praktijkonderzoek in zorg en welzijn. Bussum: Coutinho. German Edition: van der Donk, C., van Lanen, B., & Wright, M. T. (2014). Praxisforschung im Sozial- und Gesundheitswesen. Bern: Huber. American and Brazilian editions forthcoming.Google Scholar


  1. Boyd, N. M., & Bright, D. S. (2007). Appreciative inquiry as a mode of action research for community psychology. Journal of Community Psychology, 35(8), 1019–1036.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cooperrider, D. L., & Srivastava, S. (1987). Appreciative inquiry in organizational life. Research in Organizational Change and Development, 1, 129–169.Google Scholar
  3. Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe. (2013). AfroLebenVoice – Unsere Stimmen gegen Diskriminierung. Ein Photovoice-Projekt mit HIV-positiven Migrant/inn/en (pdf-Fassung).
  4. Dias, S., & Gama, A. (2014). [Community-based participatory research in public health: Potentials and challenges]. Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública, 35(2), 150–154.Google Scholar
  5. Dias, S., Gama, A., Silva, A. C., Cargaleiro, H., & Martins, M. O. (2011). Barriers in access and utilization of health services among immigrants: The perspective of health professionals. Acta Médica Portuguesa, 24(4), 511–516.Google Scholar
  6. Dias, S., Gama, A., Fuertes, R., Mendão, L., & Barros, H. (2015). Risk-taking behaviours and HIV infection among sex workers in Portugal: Results from a cross-sectional survey. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 91(5), 346–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dias, S., Gama, A., Simões, D., Fuertes, R., & Mendão, L. (2016). Bridging the research/practice gap towards sustainable health actions: The contribution of a participatory HIV intervention research among sex workers. In 22nd IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion in Curitiba, Brazil.Google Scholar
  8. Gergen, K. (2014). From mirroring to world-making: Research as future forming. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour. Scholar
  9. Khandor, E., & Mason, K. (2007). The Street Health Report 2007. Available at:
  10. Ledwith, M. (2007). On being critical: Uniting theory and practice through emancipatory action research. Educational Action Research, 15(4), 597–611. Scholar
  11. Ludema, J. D., Cooperrider, D. L., & Barrett, F. J. (2001). Appreciative inquiry: The power of the unconditional positive question. In P. Reason & H. Bradbury (Eds.), Handbook of action research (pp. 189–199). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  12. McKeown, J. K., Fortune, D., & Dupuis, S. L. (2016). “It is like stepping into another world”: Exploring the possibilities of using appreciative participatory action research to guide culture change work in community and long-term care. Action Research, 14(3), 318–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Sharp, C., Dewar, B., Barrie, K., & Meyer, J. (2017). How being appreciative creates change–theory in practice from health and social care in Scotland. Action Research. Scholar
  14. van der Donk, C., van Lanen, B., & Wright, M. T. (2014). Praxisforschung im Sozial- und Gesundheitswesen. Bern: Huber.Google Scholar
  15. Zandee, D. P., & Cooperrider, D. L. (2013). Appreciable worlds, inspired inquiry. In H. Reason & P. Bradbury (Eds.), Sage handbook of action research. Participative inquiry and practice (pp. 190–198). London: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tineke Abma
    • 1
  • Sarah Banks
    • 2
  • Tina Cook
    • 3
  • Sónia Dias
    • 4
  • Wendy Madsen
    • 5
  • Jane Springett
    • 6
  • Michael T. Wright
    • 7
  1. 1.Amsterdam Public Health Research InstituteVU University Medical CentreAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of SociologyDurham UniversityDurhamUK
  3. 3.Department of Disability and EducationLiverpool Hope UniversityLiverpoolUK
  4. 4.National School of Public HealthUniversidade Nova LisboaLisbonPortugal
  5. 5.School of Health, Medical & Applied SciencesCentral Queensland UniversityRockhamptonAustralia
  6. 6.Centre for Healthy Communities, School of Public HealthUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  7. 7.Institute for Social HealthCatholic University of Applied SciencesBerlinGermany

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