Investigating citizens' information needs through participative research: a pilot study in Candangolandia, Brazil

This paper reports on a pilot investigation in Candangolândia, near Brasilia, in Brazil in 2010. The purpose of the investigation was to determine the efficacy of a participative research methodology for investigating: people’s information needs; developing an information literate approach to problem solving; fostering problem solving and collaborative capabilities and enhancing a sense of citizenship. The research applied techniques that enabled people to collaborate and identify their information needs, as well as information solutions, through the exploration of a social problem that they had identified. Participatory Research and Action (PRA) was the chosen methodology. Nineteen techniques were applied. The findings indicated that it was possible to use PRA to explore information needs. Participants were able to identify, classify and prioritize information needs and use information in order to suggest solutions for the selected social problem. The intervention helped develop collaborative problem solving skills and a heightened sense of citizenship.