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Community Research

Excerpted from: Maryellen Kelly, PhD, Visiting Assistant Professor @ Duquesne University, Pamela Reynolds, PT, EdD, Associate Professor @ Gannon University, 2004.

Conducting Research Home


A collaborative approach to research that equitably involves community members, organizational representatives, and academic researchers in the design and accomplishment of research projects aimed at meeting community-identified needs.

It is done “with” rather than “on” a community partner.

There is a critical action component with CBR such that the knowledge gained is combined with action to enhance the well-being of the community and its members.

CBR is a relatively recent iteration of Service-Learning in higher education.

Name Game…

  • Community Based Research
  • Community Based Participatory Research
  • Community Based Action Research
  • Community Based Participatory Action Research

Benefits of CBR

Faculty Focused

  • Provides exposure, awareness, & increased sensitivity to community needs & assets
  • Integrate teaching and scholarship with  service
  • Increases available scope of research topics and training sites
  • Rewards of meaningful research

Community Partners

  • Strengthens purpose & goals of mission
  • Adds value: service, social, economic
  • Increases relationship with university and faculty
  • Increases access to experts for research, data analysis, program evaluation

To Academic Institutions

  • Enhances mission and strategic goals
  • Investment in faculty development
  • Integration of SL into existing courses
  • Educate committed and caring students
  • Long-term community relationships
  • Doing the right thing – “being a good neighbor”

Examples of Outcomes/Products

  • Community Scholarship Products
  • Resources : Tools and strategies to assess community assets/ strengths, concerns, and measure outcomes
  • Program Outcomes: Increased community leadership and funding
  • Dissemination: Presentation to community leaders and policy-makers
  • Other program development grants

Tips for Portfolio Documentation

  • Document as an ongoing process rather that a summary of outcomes. Programs usually never go forward as they are proposed
  • Clarify intellectual question that guided your work. What propelled the work?
  • Document individual contribution. Remember the “I” of “we”
  • Balance reflection on process and outcome
  • Describe the context of the work
  • Relate community research and service to institutional mission
  • Present a clearly linked picture of your scholarship
  • Balance the scholarship in your portfolio
  • Be selective