Community-based research

Community-based research (CBR) was created as an alternative to exploitive academic research of communities, and to promote mutual, respectful, and empowering partnerships between researchers and communities with research needs. As DataCenter puts it: “It is about communities doing our own research for our own ends, instead of being researched by institutions outside our communities that use our knowledge for their ends. It is about challenging who controls and defines knowledge and creating our own liberatory system of knowledge.”

Increasingly, the term “community-based research” is being co-opted to mean the study of marginalized people rather than community-driven, action oriented research that will bring about change. VIPIRG seeks to help communities take back CBR by:

  • prioritizing research that addresses a community-identified need, has the potential to tangibly address a community problem, or helps people working for environmental or social justice to make informed, strategic campaign decisions
  • providing training and research advice to help community groups design and conduct their own research
  • connecting groups that don’t have research capacity with student researchers who can help get the work done
  • including an action component so the research is not just an informational tool, but is also a direct catalyst for change
  • advocating for truly community-based definitions of CBR

Our ethical guidelines for VIPIRG research include specific parametes for CBR.