Participatory action research

Participatory research instils a sense of ownership in the end user and stakeholders.  It empowers end users to be more outspoken about their needs and aspirations.  Involving all parties at an early stage enables a designer to cost-effectively recruit participants and support for the longer-term design and evaluation of a new product.

The term ‘mixed research methods’ advocated in this chapter are a collection of methods where quantitative (grip strength, anthropometry) and qualitative data (opinions, comments, emotional responses) are collected from within the context of a ‘happening’ or phenomenon, (e.g. a design process).

Case study is a good example of the application of mixed methods research within a New Product development. It is considered by many to be primarily a qualitative recording of an ‘instance’ (observed activities); however, it can have other quantitative metrics, such as task performance outcomes and physical measurements (such as increase co-efficient of friction at a handle interface).

Useful links

Kemp , J.A.M., and van Geldren, T., 1996. Co-discovery exploring: An informal method for iteratively designing consumer product. Usability evaluation in industry, (eds.) Jordan, P.W., Tomas, B., Weerdmeester B.A., and McClelland. I. L., Taylor & Francis, London.

Torrens, GE (2011) Universal Design: empathy and affinity. In Karwowski, W, Soares, M, M, Stanton, A, N, Eds, (ed) Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Products, CRC Press, pp.233-248 Available at: (, Accessed: [21/01/2021]

Torrens, G.E., 2012. Assistive Technology product to Universal design: A way forward, Design For All India, 7 (7), pp.182-205 Available at: (, Accessed:[21/01/2021]

Torrens, GE and Black, K (2011) Equipment design in inclusive physical activity and disability sport. In Riobas, AC, Stamatakis, E, Black, K (ed) Design for Sport, Gower, pp.153-178, Available at: (, Accessed: [21/01/2021]