Strengthening Community Research Practices

We understand community research practices to involve reciprocal and trusting relationships between faculty members and community groups/organizations as they investigate issues of mutual interest and concern. While the processes and activities of community research may vary according to context, they include the “4Rs”: respect, relevance, reciprocity and responsibility (Kirkness & Barnhardt, 1991)v. We recognise the importance of upholding academic independence while remaining responsive to power relations and diverse (and sometimes not always aligning) needs/interests/agendas of the community.

2020-2021 Activities

  1. Faculty Forum on Community-Engaged Research (CER) to showcase diversity of existing activities and develop ties with SFU’s Community- Engaged Research Initiative (CERi)
  2. Identify Faculty expertise and assess capacity with respect to community needs
  3. Identify good models of supporting CER in other institutions
  4. Develop guidelines that outline how CER is understood in the FoE


  1. Develop models for how to share CER stories/outcomes and impacts
  2. With the IERC, support faculty in aligning CER with Indigenous research protocols, recognizing that these protocols already exist and will differ in each community
  3. Provide intentional support for CER in recognition of the sustained efforts required to cultivate committed, longerterm research partnerships
  4. Develop protocols for the Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committee (TPC) to support CER
  5. Respect research ethics protocols recommended by communities, including Indigenous communities and organizations
  6. Foreground the community partner’s voice and CER experiences


  1. Collect and archive exemplars of respectful Indigenous research processes that are long-term and reciprocal in collaboration with Indigenous knowledge holders.
  2. Create anti-/de-colonial ethical values (vs. “protocols”) to guide CER and Indigenous research in education.
  3. Explore and identify what might be missing from TPC criteria in fully representing the types, range, management and impacts of CER
  4. Develop TPC exemplars where faculty members “tell stories” of CER researchvi
  5. Through Research in Focusvii, support faculty in sharing processes and outcomes of CERviii and foregrounding community partner’s voices
  6. Hold community consultations to explore how to represent the impact/s of CER in ways that are equitable, collaborative, and reciprocal in conceptualization, design, management and knowledge dissemination
  7. Invite school teachers and students to conceptualize questions relevant to them and their communities that can be taken up in CER

v Kirkness and Barnhardt introduce the 4Rs as principles for decolonizing relationships between higher education institutions and Indigenous students (Pidgeon, Archibald & Hawkey, 2014). These same principles resonate for community research, including: respect for community processes and ways of knowing; the relevance of research questions and processes for individuals and communities; commitment to reciprocity in research processes such as acknowledging participation in research as labour, creating different avenues for participation, freely sharing research findings with communities for their own use; and responsibilities for the wellbeing and integrity of those involved in the research with respect to power differences and the potential impact of research for individual and community well-being.

vi For example: The University of Victoria peer review guidelines for FTP & impact rubric:

viii See, for example, FoE’s “Surrey Scholarship Series: From the Ground Up” ( events/past/2019.html) and SSHRC’s “Storytellers” competition ( une_histoire_a_raconter/index-eng.aspx).