Participatory Methods in Food Behaviour Research: A Framework Showing Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Methods

M.C. Onwezen*, E.P. Bouwman, H.C.M. Van Trijp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


A trend is visible in the food literature showing an increasing number of publications on studies that incorporate some form of participant engagement, such as citizen science and community-based participatory research. This “participation trend” will inevitably affect the scientific field of food behaviour research. This new trend is however not only associated with advantages, and a critical reflection on both the advantages and disadvantages is needed. The current article is a position paper that contributes to the literature in two main ways. First, participation is still in the developmental stage. Many different forms, methods and definitions are used. By providing a structured overview of a variety of participatory methods derived from a focused search of the literature on food behaviour, we aim to clarify the relationships between the various forms of participation methods. Second, the involvement of citizens in research is increasingly calling for novel research methods (e.g., voluntary recruitment and active involvement), which may be accompanied by both advantages and disadvantages. We add to the literature by developing a framework that indicates the advantages and disadvantages of participatory methods in food behaviour research. Our study highlights the relevance of differentiating the goal of the researcher (efficiency versus engagement) and the role of citizens (collecting versus creating), thus implying a trade-off between cost-effectiveness and involvement, as well as between data richness and data quality. Our work is a first effort to create structure and guidance within a new area. Our efforts could be used in future research aimed at developing more extensive protocols and tools for the application of participation in research, thereby offering a controlled manner to ensure that research stays abreast of our changing society.
Original languageEnglish
Article number470
Issue number2
Early online date20 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Food consumption
  • Framework
  • Participatory research methods


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