Community-Based Participatory Action Research (CBPR)

IAP2 Spectrum of Public Participation

International Association of Public Participation, Spectrum of Public Participation, poster.

Created by the International Association of Public Participation, this chart helps scaffold the process for increasing meaningful engagement by addressing the goals, public communication, and example participation techniques. IAP2 is an international organization for knowledge sharing and capacity building of best practices for public participation. This straightforward graphic is based off of the Arnstein’s ladder of public participation and includes the categories of: inform, consult, involve, collaborate, empower. While this graphic does not provide any practical guidelines, it presents a clear framework for thinking about the work of public participation and can be a useful reference point.

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Beyond Consensus: Improving Collaborative Planning and Management

Margerum, R. D., & others. (2011). Beyond Consensus: Improving Collaborative Planning and Management, MIT Press: Cambridge Mass.

This book highlights severali mportant parts of conducting a consensus meeting which is getting the right people into the group, how the participants are collaborating, and effective product generated from consensus.These chapters go in to great detail on each of these topics and cite numerous case studies as evidence of what to do, and what not to do.  This book is useful because it shows real world examples of many of the problems that can arise from convening a consensus meeting.  It illustrates that the consensus meeting starts long before the group sits down to collaborate and its results may effect projects for years after.  The case studies are from a range of governmental management and the focus of this book is how to have consensus meeting have a tangible effect on management and policy.

Facilitation as Action Research in the Moment

Mackewn, J. (2008). Facilitation as Action Research in the Moment. The Sage handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice, 615-628

This article goes into detail about one key factor in a successful consensus meeting, the facilitator.  The author lists necessary skills for facilitation and describes the process of facilitation as Action Research in which the group influences how the facilitator works, navigating through preconceived notions of individuals, communities, or organizations, awareness of the wider context of the group, and managing group energy.  It lays out how facilitator’s behavior changes as the group develops.  It highlights the difficulties of facilitation and outlines what is required of a great facilitator.  The role of a researcher in a consensus meeting is that of a facilitator and this is an important read for anyone attempting facilitation using a Participatory/activist Research methodology.

Using community-based participatory research to address health disparities

Wallerstein, N., Duran, B. (2006). Using community-based participatory research to address health disparities. Health Promotion Practice, 7(3), 312-23.

This article focuses on the challenges that arise out of the relationship between the community and researchers in the process of community-based participatory research especially in terms of power and consent. The authors argue that community-based participatory research is not simply a community outreach strategy but represents a systematic effort to incorporate community participation and decision making, local theories and community practices into the process of research. Challenges emerging using this methodology, which includes community consent, culturally bound knowledge and the level of participation throughout the study, are described in the article. Ways through which community-based participatory research can be used as a force of social change are also included with examples from impact created in the field of health. Finally the article recommends ways in which community-based participatory research can be enhanced both the academia and for the community.

Creating alternative research methods: Learning to do it by doing it.

Freire, P. (1982). Creating alternative research methods: Learning to do it by doing it. Creating knowledge: A monopoly, 29-37.

This paper focuses on methods of participatory research that have been drawn from work done in Australia. The author cautions against overreliance on one set of principles while others are also relevant; therefore he lists what principles of participatory research are and what they are not. There is a diversity of disciplines where participatory research is applied so participatory research might mean different things to different people. A key feature in action research is that those affected by a certain problem have the primary responsibility of deciding on the kind of action to be taken to hopefully address the problem. The difference between ‘participation’ and ‘involvement’ is also discussed as something researchers intending to use participatory action research approach must consider. The author argues that there is more to participatory research other than learning; it also involves knowledge production and action using new ways of relating to each other to make reform possible. The methods that participatory action researchers use such as case studies are described. Five things which do not compose participatory research are listed to help researchers when choosing their methodology. Practical examples of the principles in action are also included.

Reflexive Research Ethics for Environmental Health and Justice: Academics and Movement-Building

Cordner, A., Ciplet, D., Brown, P., & Morello-Frosch, R. (2012). Reflexive Research Ethics for Environmental Health and Justice: Academics and Movement-Building. Social Movement Studies, 11 (2), 161–176.

This paper is about the ethical concerns that emerge in community-engaged research drawing the author’s’ experiences in doing this kind of research in the field of health. The advantages that result from research done based on reflexive research ethics are mentioned in the article. Reflexive research ethics is a concept discussed in the paper which includes ethical guidelines and decision-making principles that depend on continual reflexivity concerning the relationships between researchers and participants. The question of ethical guidelines in times of uncertainty especially when researchers are involved in research with social movements arises and thus the need for reflexive research ethics as a method that allows the researcher to self-consciously evaluate her role in the research in relation to community participants. The impacts of the research process on social movement goals as well as the impacts of the social movement goals on the research process are discussed.

Abstract: Community-engaged research on environmental problems has reshaped researcher-participant relationships, academic-community interaction, and the role of community partners in human subjects protection and ethical oversight. We draw on our own and others’ research collaborations with environmental health and justice social movement organizations to discuss the ethical concerns that emerge in community-engaged research. In this paper we introduce the concept of reflexive research ethics: ethical guidelines and decision-making principles that depend on continual reflexivity concerning the relationships between researchers and participants. Seeing ethics in this way can help scientists conduct research that simultaneously achieves a high level of professional conduct and protects the rights, well-being, and autonomy of both researchers and the multiple publics affected by research. We highlight our research with community-based organizations in Massachusetts, California, and Alaska, and discuss the potential impacts of the community or social movement on the research process and the potential impacts of research on community or social movement goals. We conclude by discussing ways in which the ethical concerns that surface in community-engaged research have led to advances in ethical research practices. This type of work raises ethical questions whose answers are broadly relevant for social movement, environmental, and public health scholars.

Photovoice ethics: Perspectives from Flint photovoice

Wang, C. C., & Redwood-Jones, Y. A. (2001). Photovoice ethics: Perspectives from Flint photovoice. Health education & behavior, 28(5), 560-572.

Abstract: Photovoice is a participatory health promotion strategy in which people use cameras to document their health and work realities. As participants engage in a group process of critical reflection, they may advocate for change in their communities by using the power of their images and stories to communicate with policy makers. In public health initiatives from China to California, community people have used photovoice to carry out participatory needs assessment, conduct participatory evaluation, and reach policy makers to improve community health. This article begins to address ethical issues raised by the use of photovoice: the potential for invasion of privacy and how that may be prevented; issues in recruitment, representation, participation, and advocacy; and specific methodological techniques that should be used to minimize participants’ risks and to maximize benefits. The authors describe lessons learned from the large-scale Flint Photovoice involving youth, adults, and policy makers.