Writing 'with' not 'about': Examples in co-operative inquiry

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


In this chapter we discuss Co-operative Inquiry, including its strengths and its challenges. We reveal our reasons for undertaking such an inquiry and outline the phases of this qualitative research methodology. We explain the principles of Co-operative Inquiry conversations to illuminate the processes involved in applying this unique methodology. The Co-operative Inquiry methodology can be applied to a wide range of research topics. It is an accessible research methodology that encourages inclusive research and writing with community. It is flexible and adaptable, naturally encouraging explorations of social fields and making connections through conversation between empirical and theoretical concepts. Furthermore, Co-operative Inquiry promotes the value of people’s lived experiences and raises people’s consciousness of others’ situations. In a professional sense it respects practice wisdom, and facilitates connections between practice and theory. In this context, practice wisdom is knowledge that combines the inquirers’ own values with their professional or personal knowledge and experience (Samson, 2014). Our chapter begins by outlining what a Co-operative Inquiry is and presents the four phases that make up an inquiry cycle. We explore the advantages of undertaking a Co-operative Inquiry and highlight why researchers might want to write with others rather than about others. To illustrate these processes we present an example of a Co-operative Inquiry that we have completed. The example shows how each inquiry phase works. The chapter concludes with acknowledgement of the limitations of this research methodology. Our interest in Co-operative Inquiry began with researching social work students undertaking work placements (field education) and disability. We were keen to undertake participatory action research after looking for a methodology that was accessible and upheld the voices of participants. We found this methodology adapted easily to researching different social phenomena. We have been involved in a number of inquiries, including researching the Anglican Church of Australia, multiculturalism, social work supervisors living with disabilities, and off-site social work supervision in rural Australia. In this chapter we share our approach and reflect on our own convictions for using the research methodology of Co-operative Inquiry.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSharing qualitative research
Subtitle of host publicationShowing lived experience and community narratives
EditorsSusan Gair, Ariella Van Luyn
Place of PublicationUnited States
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781315660875
ISBN (Print)9781138959026
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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