Community-Based Participatory Research

While there are many forms of community engaged scholarship, community-based participatory research (CBPR) benefits from evolving out of the others and being the most intentionally reciprocal.

Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR)

CBPR is research that is conducted through an equal partnership between traditionally trained "experts" and members of a community. In CBPR projects, the community partner participates in all aspects of the research process. CBPR encourages collaboration of formally trained research partners from any area of expertise as long as the researcher provides expertise that is seen as useful to the investigation by the community and is fully committed to a partnership that produces outcomes usable to the community.

Equitable partnerships require sharing power, resources, credit, results, and knowledge. These partnerships are also required to have a reciprocal appreciation of each partner's knowledge and skills at each stage of the project, including problem definition/issue selection, research design, conducting research, interpreting the results, and determining how the results should be used for action.

CBPR differs from traditional research in many ways. Instead of creating knowledge for the advancement of a field or for knowledge's sake, CBPR is an iterative process that incorporates research, reflection, and action in a cyclical process.

According to the WK Kellogg Foundation Community Health Scholars Program, CBPR is a “collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community, has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change to improve (health) outcomes and eliminate (health) disparities."

There is evidence that the most learning occurs when students are involved. Research by the Pew Partnership for Civic Change and Campus Compact shows that CBPR works best when integrated into academic coursework. This combination of CBPR and service-learning pedagogies increases student learning and greatly increases sustainability and outcomes of the community work.

  1. Minkler and Wallerstein, ed. (2008). Community-Based Participatory Research for Health: From Process to Outcomes.