Stripping back the novelty: A critical reflection on the dual use of a comic-based approach to engage participants and publics

Rainford, Jon (2021). Stripping back the novelty: A critical reflection on the dual use of a comic-based approach to engage participants and publics. Methodological Innovations Online, 14(3) pp. 1–12.



There has been increasing use of comic-based approaches within qualitative research as part of an increase in creative and visual methods more generally within social science research. However, whilst increasingly prevalent in dissemination, their use within data collection is less common. This paper examines the dual use of a comic-based approach embedded within a study that explored widening participation in higher education. Initially developed for the triangulation of emergent research findings with a wider group of participants, a comic panel was developed to be used as a focus of discussions within a workshop with 11 practitioners. This was then further developed for wider dissemination and to create a space for dialogue and to engage wider publics with the study’s recommendations. Both uses are critically examined, highlighting the affordances of comic-based approaches such as their capacity for supporting dissemination to a wider audience by distilling the findings and presenting them in an engaging way. Furthermore, it argues that the form can allow for creating points of ambiguity that create spaces for the audience to challenge and question taken for granted assumptions on a topic. The paper also sets out possible challenges such the need for specialist skills, the potential for oversimplification and misrepresentation of complex issues. This paper argues that with careful planning, comic-based approaches can add significant value and increase engagement with research. Finally, it offers suggestions for how this approach could be developed by future researchers.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 80265
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • ISSN
  • 1748-0612
  • Keywords
  • Comics; visual methods; creative methods; research dissemination; arts-based methods
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2021 The Authors.
  • Depositing User
  • Jon Rainford