Taking Deliberative Research Online

This live online course explores the principles, benefits and limitations of deliberative approaches to social research and engagement
  • Event time:
    19th March 2024 10:00 – 20th March 2024 13:00
  • Format:

Deliberative research is emerging as a critical method for exploring public attitudes particularly on social and policy problems that are contested, complex or uncertain.  More broadly deliberation - through methods such as Citizens assemblies and juries - is used in society as a way to engage citizens in policy decisions.

This live online course explores the principles, benefits and limitations of deliberative approaches to social research and engagement, with a particular focus on the challenges and opportunities of delivering these online. We cover a combination of theory and practical examples to consider both doing deliberative research and being a deliberative researcher.

It is suitable for those with existing experience of the theory and practice of qualitative research and aimed at those who have responsibility for designing, commissioning and overseeing the delivery of research projects. 

This course will be useful to you if:

  • You want to expand the range of participative qualitative methods you use for research
  • You want to learn more about the use of online approaches to social research
  • You have used deliberative research approaches in face to face studies and want to consider how to bring it online
  • You want to know more about deliberation in general and how to deliver deliberative processes

Course Description

Delivered across two half days, this introductory course invites participants to engage with the competencies and ethics of being a deliberative researcher. We provide you with an overview of the theoretical principles of deliberation and how these are more recently being used in answering social research questions and involve the public in policy decisions. We will also explore the uses, benefits and limitations of these methods in both on and off-line contexts. We also look at how to design, conduct and facilitate a synchronous online deliberative workshop using video technology and cover specific guidance on the role of the moderator in events including strategies for participation.

The sessions will be participative and we will also be making use of an online Jamboard or similar to support this. Full details will be provided in participant packs.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course participants will be able to:

  • Differentiate between deliberative research and other analogous methods (e.g. focus groups) and understand when it is appropriate to use deliberative approaches
  • Design and conduct an online deliberative workshop
  • Understand the role and key skills required of moderators
  • Identify the ethical considerations and frameworks useful to deliberative research


  • Duncan Grimes
    Research Director
    View full profile

    Duncan is interested in how the public makes sense of complex issues, and how research can help them become more involved in solutions.

    Prior to joining the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), his work in qualitative public opinion research enabled him to understand how people approach the issues important to them. This included everything from what chocolate box to gift family members to what party to vote for, and the impact of inequality on society. Duncan has since then specialised in understanding attitudes towards extremism and institutional trust in Iraq by establishing a team of local researchers. When he returned to the UK, he wanted to use qualitative research to involve people in the decisions that affect their lives. Through a job in engagement, he supported people to be involved in the closure of local A&E departments, location of radioactive waste disposal and lockdown exit strategies. Duncan joined the Centre for Deliberation to apply his public opinion and engagement background to projects focused on democratic innovation.

    His work in the Centre for Deliberation starts with where the public are at – their key frames and narratives on a given social issue – and then uses participatory techniques to design a process that enables people to give an informed view and influence policy. Some of the Centre's work is about bringing national issues to the public – online workshops and peer research tasks to ask, ‘How can society support us to live healthier longer lives?’. Other projects build out from community level –  training Bedfordshire residents as peer researchers to understand the reasons behind disproportionate impact of COVID-19.