Many people with learning disabilities have been and are still been excluded from an active involvement in research. In the UK, this position has been challenged by people with learning disabilities, their supporters and academic allies, through the advancement of inclusive research. But calls have been made for a clarification of the roles that can be played by these research supporters and researchers, to expose asymmetrical relations and to advance existing practices, as well as to develop a better understanding of quality in inclusive research. In response to these matters, this paper offers an account of the experiences of a nondisabled doctoral researcher of “doing” inclusive research with people with learning disabilities. It will present critical insights into inclusive ways of doing research from a learning disability perspective, while offering data that is of relevance to researchers working beyond the field of learning disabilities and seeking the active participation of different groups in the research process. Consequently, people whose first language is not research can have a say in the production of knowledge and they can be credited not only as members of research communities but also of their societies.


Focus Groups, Inclusive Research, Learning Disabilities, Nondisabled Supporters, Research Advisory Group

Author Bio(s)

Shirley is a Registered Learning Disability Nurse and Research Graduate. In 2001, she was recognised with a Kings Fund Award for integrating complementary therapies into nursing practice. This grant enabled her to undertake a media studies degree and to begin consolidating her academic, personal and professional interests in the area of disability and media. Shirley completed her PhD at Coventry University in 2014. Her study focused on the engagement of people with learning disabilities as co-producers of disability and media research discourses, crediting them not only as active members of research communities but also as equal members of less disabling societies. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: durells@uni.coventry.ac.uk.


I would like to thank members of this PhD study’s research advisory group and focus groups for sharing their experiences and expertise with me. I am also extremely grateful to Pepsi for all of their support and for welcoming me “to the real world”. So, I would also like to credit them for the subtitle of this paper. The fieldwork research on which this paper was part of a doctoral study that was funded by the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University (United Kingdom).

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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