Action Researcher

The key task will be to talk to the members of four community gardens in and around Reading and collect information from them through interviews and photographs.

Department: Real Estate & Planning

Supervised by: Dr. Richard Nunes

The Placement Project

The School of Real Estate and Planning and School of Psychology at University of Reading are looking to recruit students for a period of 6 weeks to work on an existing 4 year long research project. The research focuses on the positive health impacts of urban community gardens, and the extent to which participants’ lived-in urban environments play a role in mitigating their health outcomes. Four community gardens from in and around Reading have already been identified for the purpose of this project. This summer placement involves two main activities. Firstly, using an approach grounded in the principles of Participatory Action Research (PAR) the student will be engaging with members of community gardens to help them take photographs of their neighbourhood and interpret their immediate environment. This will involve talking to the participants to explain the purpose of the study, set up themes for each photographic experiment, collect the photos taken and conduct group discussions with photographers. The second part will involve working closely with the project researchers to interpret the photographic and group discussion data collected in this first step, and then to conduct in-depth semi-structured interviews. Depending on the ability and willingness of the Action Researcher, s/he may conduct some of these interviews and progress to develop a paper based on data collected through this placement.


The placement involves two main tasks – first one lasting approximately 4 weeks and the second for 2 weeks. After the initial induction and project briefing, the student is expected to talk to community garden users and conduct the actual Photovoice based action research. This will involve setting up a task for the participants based on the project requirement, communicating the task to the participants, providing them with initial guidance, collecting the photographs from them at the end of each week and conducting group discussions to discuss each photo taken by them. At this stage, the work will involve a flexible approach to the timing of activities; the student is expected to manage his/er own availability in accordance with planned community engagement. For the second part, the student will work closely with a small team of researchers on transcribing and interpreting collected data. At this stage, the Action Researcher will also help to identify participants for further interview. The Action Researcher will receive free training in both Photovoice methodology and data interpretation.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

Applications are welcome from undergraduate students who are interested in community research. Skills needed for this job are: • An interest in health, public spaces and social issues. • Good at listening • Good at engaging with people • Ability to work independently and as part of a team • Ability to follow instructions and to ensure confidentiality of participants • Ability to collate, organise and store audio and visual data • Excellent written and verbal communication skills • Reliable and punctual • High levels of self-organisation and motivation

Skills which will be developed during the placement

The placement will provide a great opportunity to be involved with action research is community-based. The student will be trained to conduct Photovoice experiments, and qualitative data analysis using discourse and bricolage analytic tools. The student will also have an opportunity to conduct semi-structured interviews and learn to manage sensitive data. The successful candidate will also have an opportunity to experience the complexities of working within a multi-ethnic community and will be exposed to sustainable food growing practices. Depending upon the ability and willingness of the student, this placement experience can be used as a stepping stone to engage further with issues such as urban food justice, sustainable urban planning, and epidemiology and public health.

Place of Work

As mentioned before, first four weeks of this placement will be predominantly based on the community garden sites and their immediate neighbourhoods in and around Reading. The student will be expected to use public transport as and when needed and will be provided with travel grants. For the last 2 weeks, the student will be allocated a workplace at the Henley Business School, Department of Real Estate and Planning.

Hours of Work


Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 10 July 2017 - Friday 18 August 2017

How to Apply

Students are required to apply for this post with a CV and a covering letter addressing why s/he is interested in this project and how s/he can fulfil the requirements of the placement. An informal interview will be held before formally offering the placement to any student. Please apply directly to the supervisor by the closing date of Friday 21st April.

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