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Community-based research is driven by goals and values that are explicitly shared among partners
People take part in CBR for many different reasons. Individuals may have personal goals such as learning a new skill, or professional goals such as earning tenure. They may be driven by an organizational mission, or by a personal commitment to addressing an issue. Before beginning CBR, partners need to come to agreement on a set of shared goals for the project.
Goals of CBR often include both:
1. Addressing community priorities and social issues
2. Adding to academic knowledge and learning.
• Why am I part of this project?
• Why are we working together?
• What do we hope to achieve?
• What impact do we hope to have?
Goals can change over time, but partners need a shared purpose or mission as a starting point. This purpose can be written into a formal partnership agreement. Later on, this will help the group evaluate the extent to which they achieved what they set out to achieve.
A group of residents wants to partner with researchers in urban planning to address homelessness in their neighborhood. All agree that homelessness is a problem. However, through their initial discussions they realize that there are some conflicting goals and values within the group. Some want to research effective ways of housing people to keep them as part of the neighborhood. They see rising housing prices as a threat, and are interested in affordable housing. Other people worry that affordable housing will decrease property values in the neighborhood. They see gentrification as inevitable, and want to look into more policing and mental health care to address issues arising from homelessness. The partners begin worrying that the partnership is not going to work. However, they keep talking and discover that they do share values around democracy, inclusion, and open-mindedness. They design a project that explores the root causes of homelessness. And, they invite homeless advocates and people experiencing homelessness to be part of the partnership.
Partners should also discuss their values and identify shared values they want to use to drive the project.
Research is carried out by humans. Our values and beliefs affect all of our decisions including what we study, who we engage, how we choose our questions, and how we collect data. Because CBR is collaborative and often includes people with very different backgrounds, partners need to be explicit about these values.
Partners do not need to have the exact same values and beliefs. In fact, having diverse perspectives is one of the strengths of CBR. However, some level of agreement is necessary for a collaboration to be successful.
Some values are common across research approaches. For example, all good research projects share the value of open-mindedness. Some values are inherent in the CBR approach, such as those listed on this page. And some values are specific to the cultures of the communities involved, as we explore in the next principle.
Some values are embedded in the DNA of CBR. These values include, but are not limited to:
• The validity of diverse ways of knowing and types of expertise
• The rights of people to have a say in the systems that impact them
• The importance of centering people and perspectives that have been marginalized in research
• A desire to learn from others
• The importance of community as a social unit
• A willingness to reconsider assumptions and biases
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