In community-based research, compensating people with lived experience to participate actively in the research process is a common practice. Peer research associates (PRAs), as these individuals are often titled, can take on diverse roles within community-based studies, and compensating PRAs for their input of time, skills, and expertise is considered a best practice.
Developing a compensation plan with PRAs can be a complex task and many factors should be considered, such as institutional financial administration rules and those of the funding body. It is also crucial to consider the potential impact that receiving financial compensation may have on a PRA, including their eligibility for other forms of social assistance, such as disability benefits.
The Pacific AIDS Network, in collaboration with members of a provincial working group made up of members of the CBR Quarterly Meetings group, has published a new resource to help researchers and peer research associates thoughtfully approach this topic. The document, entitled CBR Tips: Compensating Peer Researchers, was developed in consultation with PRAs, research coordinators, administrative staff/financial managers at community-based organizations, and academics within British Columbia. It outlines some important considerations to take into account when developing compensation plans and policies for community-based research. Rather than being prescriptive, the tips are meant to encourage discussion on best practices and foster the formulation of guidelines tailored specifically for each context.
Because each situation is different, this resource is not prescriptive around rates of payment or procedures, as these will always depend on a number of variables. The key message is that every research project is unique, as are the financial realities of PRAs, and each study or project team will need to develop their own approach to compensation in consultation with the PRAs who are involved.
Making payments to people with lived experience is intended to support inclusion and the effective and equitable participation in research processes by easing financial constraints. Further, having clear policies and procedures around compensation can be helpful in clarifying expectations and responsibilities relating to people’s involvement, thereby leading to a more fulfilling, meaningful collaboration.
Questions? Feedback? Get in touch!
Community-Based Research Manager