Close this search box.
Close this search box.


Getting to know the PAR area and its people, gaining a first impression and (for System Exploration) collecting perspectives
Ideally to be used in which stages?
Orientation and System Exploration
Level of difficulty
Time investment
About 60 minutes per respondent, depending on respondent (time of writing and analysis excluded)
None, maybe a drinks for you and the respondend for during the walk
To combine with
Village map (not on the same day though)

Transect Walks

Transect walks and guided tours are excellent ways to get to know the research area as you literally walk through it together with a local. You can see it as a ‘walking interview’. Transects and guided tours are basically the same thing, the only difference is that transects are more systemic and structured (and often done more than once with different people) and tours are more informal and led by a local (so you are less in control).


Madelon, founder of SevenSenses about a few of her Transect Walks:

“In the Guatemalan village I did a guided tour as I did not know the area, led by a community leader and another day by a farmer. In the Bolivian village I did transects in the villagers’ kitchen gardens, so I visited more than one person who guided me through their garden as I made notes on what they cultivated and how they did that. The big advantage here is that you have the opportunity to immediately ask questions about what you see. Many times these are things that you would not have found out from a village map or an interview, as locals may take things for granted that to you are extraordinary and/or very relevant for your research. Another added bonus is that people see you walk through the streets, which gives you more opportunities to shake hands, introduce yourself and have some informal talks.”

Guided tours and transect walks are often combined with home visits; this is something you can discuss with the person walking next to you. It is important that that person is highly respected and trusted by the community. You don’t always have control over this, but try to use your senses for this as much as you can. If you have done the Village Map method before, you can also ask the drawer to show you the village based on the map. Don’t forget to make notes!


On the SevenSenses YouTube channel there is a video lecture about Transect Walks and guided tours.


When to use

When you are going to do your PAR in an area you don’t know yet (Orientation), or when you want to collect perspectives walking instead of sitting down.

When not to use

When PAR participants for whatever reason are unable to walk, or when the area for whatever reason is not safe.

How to use


1 Invite a potential participant to the method. Explain what the Transect Walk method is all about, what they can expect and what you plan to do with the results.

At the appointment

2 Repeat in short what you said when you invited the participant.
3 Begin the walk, bringing something to drink for both of them if necessary. Ask questions at what you notice, only if you feel there is room for it at that moment. If not, save your question for later. If you can, take notes of the answers you get from the participant. If necessary, use a hard cover to write on. Use (by consent of the participant) a voice recorder so that you don’t have to write so much while walking. Ask follow up questions to get more in-depth information get, just as you would in a semi- or unstructured interview.



4. Thank the participant for his or her time and information
5. If necessary and/or if a voice recorder was used, transcribe the recording for analysis or use your notes for this purpose. Do this as soon as possible after completing the Transect Walk method.
6 Analyze your processed information (when used for System Exploration)

Pro's & cons

The great advantage of Transect Walks is that you have the opportunity to immediately ask questions about what you see at location. Often these are things you wouldn’t have discovered on a Village Map or in a regular interview, first because you yourself don’t see the environment and secondly because the locals take some things for granted – because those things have been there for a long time.

A disadvantage of a Transect Walk is that it is very hard to make notes. You can tackle this problem by asking whether you can record the interview, but it is not always appreciated (e.g. privacy) or practical (e.g. noise). Secondly, when you are walking, the scenery changes all the time and sometimes you are still talking about a subject when you see something new you want to ask something about. It requires skills to manage such walking interview.


On the SevenSenses YouTube channel you will find a video lecture about Transect Walks.

SevenSenses also offers (customized) trainings in Transect Walks.

In our handbook Participatory Action Research you will also find the Transect Walk method explained.

Method images