Every journey begins with a first step. Journeys in Community-Based Research takes the reader on a giant first step in dealing with the ethics, advocacy, and impact of community-based research and learning.
This highly academic study is a collection of essays reflecting case studies by 30 contributors skilled in assessing the needs of the marginalized and disadvantaged. Their goal was to develop a deeper understanding of communities and discover opportunities to improve their quality of life.
In linking research, education, and action in Saskatoon’s core neighbourhoods, for instance, the authors point out that “participatory research requires a two-way dialogue, combining the researcher’s theoretical knowledge with the insider’s first-hand knowledge of the milieu.”
They also found that “Building credibility, trust, and rapport also depended on asking the ‘right questions.’” This meant the researchers had to demonstrate that they were listening, learning, and taking community expertise seriously.
To assist other researchers, the authors developed the following five-point checklist: i) identify decision makers, ii) involve them early, iii) involve them often, iv) conduct research they can use, and v) give them results they can understand.
One area the researchers targeted was the real-life experience of aboriginal youth. The authors relate the interaction they had with youth of the Standing Buffalo First Nation, a small rural reserve in southern Saskatchewan, pointing out that the role of Elders in the project was invaluable.
As part of their overall findings, researchers noticed that when participants’ thoughts and opinions were respected and valued, their self-confidence and self-worth increased – something to keep in mind when doing further studies.
Journeys in Community-Based Research has an index, indispensable for this type of work, and a list of references after each chapter.
As an ongoing process, research is never finished, which is just as well. After all, the journey is often more important than the destination.
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