Why Am I Always Being Researched?

A guidebook for community organizations, researchers, and funders to help us get from insufficient understanding to more authentic truth.

The impact investing group Chicago Beyond created a powerful guide to “help shift the power dynamic and the way community organizations, researchers, and funders uncover knowledge together.”

Based on their experiences supporting youth-focused community organizations, they identified seven inequities that plague research in communities of color and hinder our efforts to uncover truths and have positive community impact. Each of these power imbalances is also an opportunity to establish equity-based approaches to research. Throughout, they call out the importance of partners addressing biases and assumptions, and committing to “find new ways to relate to each other.”

The seven inequities/opportunities, in the words of the guide, are:

  1. Access: Could we be missing out on community wisdom because conversations about research are happening without community meaningfully present at the table?
  2. Information: Can we effectively partner to get to the full truth if information about research options, methods, inputs, costs, benefits, and risks are not shared?
  3. Validity: Could we be accepting partial truths as the full picture, because we are not valuing community organizations and community members as valid experts?
  4. Ownership: Are we getting incomplete answers by valuing research processes that take from, rather than build up, community ownership?
  5. Value: What value is generated, for whom, and at what cost?
  6. Accountability: Are we holding funders and researchers accountable if research designs create harm or do not work?
  7. Authorship: Whose voice is shaping the narrative and is the community fully represented?

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