This methods manual is designed as an overarching tool for engaging in co-enquiry processes with indigenous and local communities. It includes arguments in support of co-enquiry as best practice, guidance on how to approach each element of the research cycle using co-enquiry, descriptions of co-enquiry approaches to monitoring, evaluation and dissemination, and reflections on the relationship between co-enquiry and advocacy.

The manual was created as part of the COMBIOSERVE project with funding from the European Union Framework Programme 7. The manual was primarily written and edited by Global Diversity Foundation, with numerous contributions from other consortium members.

Download the full manual:

Co-enquiry and participatory research for community conservation

Download the manual in sections:

I. Introduction

II. Co-enquiry in theory

This section provides a brief history and genealogy of the concept of co-enquiry including a literature review, an overview of key concepts and principles, and an analysis of its use in academic research.

III. Co-enquiry in practice

In this chapter, we describe the conditions necessary for the application of co-enquiry, ethical considerations, challenges to implementation, and share a detailed description of a full co-enquiry research cycle.

IV. COMBIOSERVE experiences in participatory and co-enquiry research

Consortium members share some of their field research experiences, including in participatory mapping and monitoring, participatory scenario-building exercises, and choice experiments. The content of this section includes elements in Portuguese and Spanish and is authored by consortium partners.

V. Protocols for co-enquiry research

This chapter provides step-by-step protocols for facilitating co-enquiry research with communities. One set of protocols covers community-based monitoring processes:

  • Community-based plant monitoring
  • Community-based fauna monitoring
  • Community-based river monitoring
  • Community-based reforestation monitoring

The second set of protocols covers socio-environmental change:

  • Basic social science research methods in co-enquiry: workshops, semi-structured interviews, oral histories, focus groups and participatory mapping
  • Innovative approaches: the System Operator of TRIZ-OSTM and problematising dialogues

VI, VII, VIII. Evaluation, Dissemination and Advocacy

This section contains:

  • Chapter VI – Evaluating co-enquiry research processes, describing methods for participatory evaluation tried and tested by COMBIOSERVE team members
  • Chapter VII – Disseminating the results of co-enquiry research, providing a summary overview of different methods for dissemination, including participatory video, video letters and publications
  • Chapter VIII – Co-enquiry, emancipation and advocacy, a one-page reflection piece on co-enquiry and social justice

Bibliography and Resources


  1. International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) 15 Ethical Principles for Collaborative Research
  2. Code of Ethics of the International Society for Ethnobiology
  3. Dictionary of useful terms in participatory research and co-enquiry
  4. Typologies of participatory research (adapted from Pimbert and Pretty, 1995)
  5. The Gentry Method for the study of woody plants in plant communities
  6. Study method for Rubiaceae, Melastomataceae and Asteraceae families
  7. Pile-sorting method
  8. Literature review and knowledge dialogue in co-enquiry


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