Negotiating information sharing in community-based research

Learn about the logo by clicking the image.

One of the most important parts of a research project is how the knowledge you uncover is shared out with the world to create impact. But how do you ensure that this is done in a way that is ethical, that creates positive impact for community, and that meets the needs of everyone on a research project? What is often called knowledge translation and exchange (KTE), finding ways to share research in a good way is essential to making sure people are able to use information.

In community-based research, teams are often made up of people in different positions, with different priorities. Academics might require publications in peer reviewed journals as part of their job, service providers and organizations might want data to support funding applications and program improvement, and community members might want information to use personally, or to support and advocate for others in the community. These are all important parts of knowledge translation and exchange.

To make this process more complex, research has a history of being extractive and, at times, detrimental to the health and wellbeing of Indigenous communities and other communities that we work with – for example, people living with HIV or people who use drugs. Research has been, and often still is, used to colonize, stigmatize, and justify discrimination. This history should not be forgotten or overlooked, which is why we as researchers and research teams must actively work to ensure our research benefits community goals and upholds the agency of community members.

In order to support accountability in our approach to sharing research, the Making it Work Community-Based Research team developed KTE and Authorship Guidelines. This document makes our approach explicit and is designed to ensure priorities across the research team are represented in our work. We have recognized in this process the importance of representing all members of the research team, with a focus on lifting up perspectives of those that are not always centred in KTE and academic research sharing and supporting cultural safety in our approach to sharing research.

In addition to these KTE and Authorship Guidelines, the Making it Work team developed a Research Project Proposal Template that is completed ahead of any KTE activity and provided to the entire community-based research Team for review ahead of the activity taking place. This template outlines what the activity is, how engagement/involvement of the team will take place, and what the benefit to community may be. This is important to ensure that any product we develop has full team buy-in and everyone has the opportunity to contribute.

Navigating different priorities is not always a straightforward process. Recognizing that we all come to this work from different places – with different priorities – but that we share the same intention to create positive impact with our research – can help us develop processes that support us reaching this shared goal.


Making it Work KTE Authorship Guidelines

TEMPLATE Making it Work Research Product Proposal


Questions? Feedback? Get in touch!
Joanna Mendell, PAN’s Director of Research and Evaluation

[email protected]