Building High-Quality Evidence Through Community-Engaged Research

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While we’ve generally prioritized rigorously designed and conducted research evaluating causal relationships between health and racial equity outcomes and structural or systems-level interventions at E4A, we are broadening our perspective to look at research projects through a critical lens and ensure that projects we fund are equitable and actionable, in addition to being rigorous. This raises questions such as How should research be done to achieve health equity and racial justice? and How can researchers ensure the work they are doing is equitable and actionable?

Equitable research has at its core a commitment to center all stakeholder voices throughout the research process (see, for example, the Equitable Evaluation Framework), not just the voices and priorities of funders and funded researchers. Distributing leadership and power across stakeholders can help lessen the effect of harmful research practices on communities (e.g., tokenism, stereotyping, and manipulation).

Community-engaged research signals a commitment to conducting equitable and actionable research. It is not a single framework but encompasses a variety of approaches and practices. Central to community-engaged research is the idea of equity between researchers and community members who are working to address real-world needs with real-world solutions. Conducting community-engaged research means committing to principles of co-ownership of the research process and products, co-learning and two-way sharing of knowledge and expertise, and equalizing power between the researchers and study participants.

Examples of Community-Engaged Research

Approaches to community-engaged research include, for example, Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), Community Partnered Participatory Research (CPPR), and Empowerment Evaluation. At E4A we are interested in learning more about these collaborative research and evaluation frameworks and how they may help ensure that communities are centered in the work that is funded by E4A. (See E4A’s recent comments on the importance of engaging communities in the research process here.)

In an effort to do that we conducted a number of interviews with research experts and their community partners that will be highlighted in a forthcoming series of blog posts in which we’ll share what we learned. Specifically, we interviewed Dr. Kenneth Wells and Andrea Jones about Community Partnered Participatory Research, including their experience with Witness for Wellness and Community Partners in Care (read the post here). We interviewed Dr. Nina Wallerstein and Harriet Yepa-Waquie about their work employing community-engaged research and current research on Engage for Equity. Lastly, we interviewed Dr. Melody Goodman about the development and use of the Research Engagement Survey Tool (REST) to evaluate the community-engaged research process.

So stay tuned for our next post, in which we’ll share our learnings and insights from Dr. Kenneth Wells and Andrea Jones.

Tools & Resources

Researchers, practitioners, and policymakers who are interested in community-engaged research may find it useful to consult the tools and resources below. The resources include manuals on community-engaged research as well as tools and survey instruments to perform and evaluate community-engaged research.

Blog posts

About the author(s)

Dakota W. Cintron, PhD, EdM, MS is a postdoctoral scholars at the E4A Methods Laboratory and is a frequent contributor to the E4A Blog.

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