What is Community-Based Research?
Definition of community-based research:

“A research approach that involves active participation of stakeholders, those whose lives are affected by the issue being studied, in all phases of research for the purpose of producing useful results to make positive changes.”
(Nelson, Ochocka, Griffin & Lord, 1998, p.12)

Community-based research is research that strives to be:

Community-driven – begins with a research topic of practical relevance to the community and promotes community self-determination.

Participatory – community members and researchers equitably share control of the research agenda through active and reciprocal involvement in the research design, implementation and dissemination.

Action-oriented – the process and results are useful to community members in making positive social change and to promote social equity
(Ochocka and Janzen, 2014)

Within community based research…

  • The relevance of the research topic is identified or verified by community members.
  • The resources of research (financial, expertise, etc.) are shared with community members, particularly those most affected by the research topic.
  • The research process recognizes and utilizes the expertise that community members have.
  • The research process recognizes and addresses power imbalances between researchers and community members.
  • The research process is driven by values, including: empowerment, supportive relationships, social change, learning as an ongoing process and respect for diversity.
  • The research process and results are accessible and understandable to community members.
  • The research process and results consider and adapt to the context in which the research is conducted.
  • The research leaves a legacy, both in terms of the utilization of research results, as well as in the future collaboration among partners.
    (Center for Community Based Research, 2013)

See four videos about community-based research below:

(click on the dots or arrows to navigate between videos)

Community-Based Research (CBR) is intended to transform research from “a relationship where researchers act upon a community to answer a research question to one where researchers work side by side with community members” (Community-Based Research Partnerships, 2006).

Community-Engaged Scholarship
The practice of community-engaged scholarship (CES) includes scholarly teaching, service, and research that partner with and benefit communities. CES generally focuses on engaging communities most impacted by the scholarly work. Non-academics participate in creating, synthesizing and mobilizing knowledge, with the aim of democratizing knowledge creation and dissemination. CES commonly looks to understand and solve societal problems or celebrate and support communities (Boyer, 1990).

Community-Campus Engagement
Increasingly academic institutions and communities are collaborating for the benefit of communities, nations, and the world. Community-campus engagement has come to represent an umbrella of collaborative theories and practices that mobilize research, teaching, and learning for the benefit of society. The term “community-campus engagement” is multifaceted and includes aspects such as, community engaged scholarship, civic engagement, research networks, community-based research and knowledge mobilization among others (Etmanski et al., 2014).

Boyer, E.L. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professorate. Princeton, NJ: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Centre for Community Based Reseach. (2013). “What is Community Based Research?”. Retrieved from http://www.communitybasedresearch.ca/Page/View/CBR_definition.

Community-Based Participatory Research. (2006). Examining community-institutional partnerships for prevention research group: Developing and sustaining community-based participatory research partnerships: A skill-building curriculum. Retrieved from www.cbprcurriculum.info 

Etmanski, C., Hall, B., & Dawson, T. (Eds.). (2014). Learning and teaching community-based research: Linking pedagogy to practice. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.

Janzen, R., Ochocka, J., & Stobbe, A. (2016). Towards a theory of change for community-based research projects. The Engaged Scholar Journal: Community-engaged Research, Teaching, and Learning. 2(2), 44-64. http://dx.doi.org/10.15402/esj.v2i2.165

Janzen, R., Ochocka, J., Turner, L., Cook, T., Franklin, M., & Deichert, D. (2017). Building a community-based culture of evaluation. Evaluation and Program Planning. 65, 163-170. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2017.08.014

Ochocka, J. & Janzen, R. (2014). Breathing life into theory: Illustrations of community-based research hallmarks, functions, and phases. Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement. 7, 18-33.

Taylor, S.M. & Ochocka, J. (2017). Advancing community-based research in Canada. International Journal of Knowledge-Based Development, Vol. 8, No.2, pp.183-200.