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Community-Based Research is shared in ways that are accessible and useful to all partners
The results of CBR are meant to be used by the community and contribute to academic knowledge. That usually means creating multiple products for multiple audiences.
Some CBR products are mainly for academic audiences, such as journal articles, academic books, and conference presentations. Through these products, partners can influence other researchers and get their work into college classrooms. Academic publishing can give partners the legitimacy they need to influence policy. And, these are the kind of products that faculty have to produce as part of their job.
However, these products are not very accessible to communities outside higher education. Nor are these products very useful when it comes to the next step in CBR: taking action. Partners may want to use the research findings to support policy advocacy, design a new program, influence professional practice, educate people about an issue, etc. So, there is a need for products that are community-facing — accessible, useful, and designed for the communities involved.
Community-facing products should consider the needs and cultures of the communities. Examples can include public presentations, videos, policy reports, social media postings, articles in local newspapers and media outlets, lesson plans, home visits, arts-based products, and more. Get creative! Avoid jargon. Use plain language and readable graphics. Translate into all appropriate languages. Consider how generations consume information differently. See if you can take advantage of existing community events and communication channels.
Disseminating these products often requires money, for example to print reports, produce a video, or offer childcare for people coming to a presentation. It also takes time. Make sure dissemination is in your budget and timeline from the beginning. There are also organizations that publish and peer-review community-facing CBR products, like Community Campus Partnerships for Health’s site http://www.ces4health.info/
For research to be useful to community, it needs to be timely. If results are delivered too late, the potential impact of the research may be diminished. Also, it is good practice to share findings with the broader community (not just the main partners) and offer chances to comment and point out issues before anything is published for other audiences. They were part of producing the knowledge and have the right to be first in line to see and respond to the outcomes.
In addition to being immediately useful to partners, there are a lot of benefits to creating research products for non-academic audiences. It can help build trust and accountability between communities and researchers. It can ensure that research has a sustained life in the community rather than sitting on a dusty shelf. It can increase the accuracy of results when communities — and not just academic reviewers — are able to comment and respond. And it amplifies the chance of having a real impact on the world.
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