Community-based research (CBR) has been growing in practice for several decades now, largely as a response to community organizations educating researchers about the impacts and costs of their research to grassroots groups and individuals. The School of Human Ecology has worked in this space for years, and more recently, a conversation between Professor Emerita Lori Bakken and Centro Hispano Director of Planning and Evaluation Evelyn Cruz flowered into a sustained discussion of the matter. They decided to develop a toolkit for community organizations to use in determining whether and how to work with researchers and evaluators. It includes key principles in four areas of focus, a checklist, and templates for shared agreements between the research parties.
“While I’m encouraged by the progress my colleagues in the academy have made toward understanding the importance of building relationships with community partners when embarking on a research project, what I heard from community partners throughout my career assured me there is still much room for growth,” says Dr. Bakken, who taught in SoHE’s Civil Society and Community Studies
department and was an evaluation specialist with the University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension. “There are now numerous resources for scholars to look to in refining their approach to CBR,
but this toolkit aims to highlight the power held by community organizations by providing questions and standards that make the research and evaluation process serve their own goals and interests, too.”
“The toolkit was designed and framed in a way that provides helpful information to community-based organizations who are approached by researchers or evaluators to partner,” says Cruz. “The intention behind the guidelines is to support community-based organizations with resources to manage the imbalance inherent in community/academic partnerships, so that researchers or evaluators might understand the limitations and the implications of their request. My hope is that the guidelines allow other community-based organizations to manage evaluation or research partnerships in a way that ensures their needs are met.”
View and download the full toolkit, “Community Guidelines for Engaging with Researchers and Evaluators.”
Centro Hispano is the leading social services provider for the Latinx community in Dane County, Wisconsin. Read about its mental health equity project Esperanza: Nuestra Cultura de Salud. Thank you to our partners there for their review of this article.