This article reviews, through reference to the published literature, some key questions about participatory research. When should participatory research be used? How should participatory research be applied? What about quality of science in participatory research? Are there any institutional issues associated with the use of participatory research? And what are the benefits and costs of participatory research? The article is not a comprehensive literature review on participatory research, it is not meant to set standards for participatory research, nor to define what constitutes ‘good’ participatory research, but rather it seeks to summarise the realities of implementing participatory research, as discussed and debated by several published authors, and to provide some useful background for this special issue.
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