Community-Based Research Canada

Gateways Journal discusses their CBR initiatives

CBR Canada invited Gateways Journal to speak about their community-based research efforts for the Spring 2020 e-News. CBR Canada board directors have published in their journal as Gateways is an excellent resource for promoting community-based research. Margaret Malone, Managing Editor, wrote this piece on behalf of the editorial committee at Gateways. You may reach Margaret by email at Margaret.malone@uts.edu.au.

Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement was founded in 2008, initially to provide scholars with a high-quality, peer-reviewed journal in which they could publish the results of their engaged research and practice. At that time, there was a dual focus on both demonstrating the scholarly legitimacy of the work and participating in international dialogue to help establish the definitions, theoretical frameworks and methodologies of best-practice engagement.

Over the past decade, we have observed – through the manuscripts submitted, peer reviews received and articles published – how this has continued to evolve into an increasingly diverse, complex conversation, in which attention is turning away from examining the definitional boundaries of engagement to focus more on issues of the core: what does transformative reciprocity look like? How do power imbalances play out in both practice and outcomes? What change has really occurred, and for who? For Gateways, these critically important discussions necessitate efforts geared towards increasing the presence of scholars and community-based partners from around the world, with whom so much knowledge and expertise lies, as authors of vital research.  

The above statement gives a sense of how Gateways frames what an expanded concept of excellence in engagement might mean for an international peer-reviewed academic journal. The central purpose of academic journals has always been to facilitate the documentation, public sharing and assessment of evidence-based, high-quality research and practice.

A foundational pillar of engagement is its recognition of the diversity of knowledges that exist in the world and their legitimate place ‘at the research table’.

What does it mean to bring these two things together, and how? In Gateways’ first Editorial in 2008, we described our aims as seeking ‘to add chairs at a global research table … to include experienced community voices’. This very much still stands but, if I can extend the metaphor a bit more, I’d suggest that our attention is now pivoting towards a more critical examination of the table itself. Just what are community partners being invited to join? What, substantively, will be changed through their participation in the communication and sharing of co-created knowledge in an academic journal?

US scholars Frank Fear and Lorilee Sandmann have recently called for a ‘second-wave movement’ within engagement, writing that ‘we won’t contend (as we did before) that the academy is underengaged because we will have recognized that the academy has always been engaged.[1]

The academy has sometimes been overengaged for private gain.

These are not new or simple questions to answer, and neither are they intended to diminish the remarkable achievements of countless partnerships over the past few decades.

This e-interview between Gateways journal and CBR Canada is itself proof of the substantial and sustained global commitment to community-engaged research. But such connections need to be nurtured and considered as being in it for the long-haul. The sorts of structural changes we all hope for demand concerted, comprehensive, bold thinking and acting. So, in that spirit, thank you for talking with us, and we certainly hope this is but the start!


[1] Fear, FA and Sandmann, LR 2019, ‘It’s time for a second-wave movement’, in LR Sandmann and DO Jones (eds), Building the field of higher education engagement: Foundational ideas and future directions, Stylus, Sterling, Virginia, pp. 99-110.