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The use of participatory methodologies for conducting literacy activities: A perfect but not explicit fit

Juan D. Machin-Mastromatteo (Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, Autonomous University of Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico)

Information and Learning Sciences

ISSN: 2398-5348

Article publication date: 10 October 2017




The purpose of this paper is to construct the basis for a research agenda that integrates participatory methodologies (PMs) into literacies (L) research and practice as a valuable methodological basis.


The pros and cons of using PM on L research and practice are explained, as well as its possibilities, characteristics and the contributions of a research agenda under such integration (PM-L agenda). This analysis draws from the pertinent literature, Scopus publication data, the author’s own practice as an information literacy (IL) researcher and a questionnaire used to gather further insights from the research community in this matter.


A further understanding of the contributions that a PM-L research agenda can bring to the library and information science field is achieved. The pros, cons, hesitations and eagerness that researchers might have toward the idea of using such integration are valuable for determining if this really is a perfect but not an explicit fit.

Research limitations/implications

Although the questionnaire was promoted in a large international conference during a four-year period (2013-2017), it was answered by 34 participants; only 16 participants had previous experiences with the PM-L integration, and only an average of 8 participants provided significant answers to our open-ended questions. Thus, the amount of data available to analyze was limited. Certainly, using Scopus data provides a large but incomplete picture of the specialized literature that is peer reviewed and indexed, because it excludes publications not indexed that may be pertinent.


The PM-L integration is deemed as highly adequate, as PMs seek to improve participants’ conditions, situations and realities through reflection and engagement, while L-related activities and research (including information, digital, media literacy or new literacies) are conducted to improve people’s use and understanding of the media for which they are developing literacy. This contributes to their betterment as critical-thinkers, persons, citizens and learners. However, many researchers and especially practitioners do not formally use PM to conduct L activities, at least in many cases, this is not made explicitly. In the case of practitioners, some have conducted such activities empirically, without an appropriate methodological foundation. Hence, to establish PM as the methodologies of choice may help researchers and practitioners have a stronger methodological basis to conduct their work.



Machin-Mastromatteo, J.D. (2017), "The use of participatory methodologies for conducting literacy activities: A perfect but not explicit fit", Information and Learning Sciences, Vol. 118 No. 9/10, pp. 456-470.



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