Embedded, Participatory Research: Creating a Grounded Theory with Teenagers


  • Shannon Crawford Barniskis University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee




research methods, grounded theory, embedded research, participatory research, public libraries


Objective – This project, based on a study of the impact of art programs in public libraries on the teenaged participants, sought to show how library practitioners can perform embedded, participatory research by adding participants to their research team. Embedded participatory techniques, when paired with grounded theory methods, build testable theories from the ground up, based on the real experiences of those involved, including the librarian. This method offers practical solutions for other librarians while furthering a theoretical research agenda.

Methods – This example of embedded, participatory techniques used grounded theory methods based on the experiences of teens who participated in art programs at a public library. Fourteen teens participated in interviews, and six of them assisted in coding, analyzing, and abstracting the data, and validating the resulting theory.

Results – Employing the teenagers within the research team resulted in a teen-validated theory. The embedded techniques of the practitioner-researcher resulted in a theory that can be applied to practice.

Conclusions – This research framework develops the body of literature based on real-world contexts and supports hands-on practitioners. It also provides evidence-based theory for funding agencies and assessment. In addition, practitioner-based research that incorporates teens as research partners activates teens’ voices. It gives them a venue to speak for themselves with support from an interested and often advocacy-minded adult.


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Author Biography

Shannon Crawford Barniskis, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Shannon Crawford Barniskis has been the director of the small Lomira Community Library, and served as a Youth Services Librarian for thirteen years. She is a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Information Studies. Her research focus is on public libraries, research, and content creation.




How to Cite

Crawford Barniskis, S. (2013). Embedded, Participatory Research: Creating a Grounded Theory with Teenagers. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 8(1), 47–58. https://doi.org/10.18438/B8HK6J



Research Articles