Community-Engaged Research

At Simon Fraser University, community-engaged research is defined by a set of practices, values and objectives that emphasize active participation of the individuals and communities directly affected by research activities. There is a joint responsibility between investigators and communities for the design, execution and outcomes of research projects.

Community-engaged research is premised on principles of reciprocity, including the shared ownership of research produced as a result of partnerships between scholars, students and communities. Through the process of inclusion, research findings can have greater relevance to the communities they concern, while meaningful engagement in the research process can help to increase the likelihood that research findings will be used and will be useful for the communities they involve.

What is Community-Engaged Research?

Community-Engaged Research (CER) is defined by a set of practices, values and objectives. CER explicitly involves active participation of the individuals and communities directly affected by research activities, and joint responsibility between investigators and the affected community for the design, execution and outcomes of the study. Through the process of inclusion, research findings can have greater relevance to the communities they concern. Among other benefits, community members bring crucial contextual information throughout the study process. Ultimately, meaningful engagement in the research process helps to increase the likelihood that research findings will be used and that they will be useful.

CER and related research approaches (e.g., Community Based Research, Participatory Action Research, Rapid Assessment, Response and Evaluation) vary with respect to the methods they use and how goals and outcomes are conceptualized; however, they are consistent in that they all strive to promote principles of participation, cooperation, collaboration, social transformation, knowledge translation and finding balance between research and actions.

CER fulfills the following criteria:

  • The community is substantially involved in proposing and designing the research;
  • There is shared ownership of the research and its mobilization, and the objective of capacity building for all partners;
  • Researchers are committed to sustainability and each stage of the research process is part of an iterative relationship-building process;
  • Through their engagement in research, community members realize results that address their goals and aspirations.