This paper is to appeared in volume 36, no 1, 2005 of COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: Journal of the Community Development Society.
The paper encourages the adoption of participative action research methodologies for the evaluation of community technology, given the complex and emergent mix of community development and information technology which these projects represent. Much of the richness of the processes which take place can best be captured through collaborative participative research that is valued by communities, rather than through less engaged approaches. The use of participative methodologies also gives communities a better understanding of research processes leading to more effective uses of new technologies. A participatory action research tool test for electronic community networking is introduced and its use is described in several countries. For an emergent field such as community technology or community networking, an adaptation of action research which can provide ‘ thick descriptionâ’, the range of meanings, interpretations and effects of human and technical interactions which come to constitute community networking for community development, appears timely.