Durham University

Centre for Social Justice and Community Action

Research Projects

Community-based Participatory Research: Ethical Challenges

This project was a scoping study funded by the AHRC Connected Communities Programme from March - October 2011. Led by Sarah Banks (PI) the aim was to provide a critical overview of a range of literature on participatory approaches to community-based research with a particular focus on ethical issues and the evaluation of outcomes, drawing on national and international experience.

The study focussed on participatory approaches to research in and with communities, particularly those categorised as 'diverse', 'hard to reach' or 'easily ignored'. Specifically, it identified ethical challenges in community-based participatory research (CBPR). The study involved a Co-inquiry Action Research group of community partners and academics and a team of international advisors.

Discussion paper: Community-based Participatory Research: Ethical Challenges.

Appendices to discussion paper in one file.

Tackling ethical issues and dilemmas in community-based participatory research: a practical resource

AHRC Connected Communities Follow On Project

A project led by Sarah Banks, involving Andrea Armstrong (Durham), Niamh Moore (Manchester), Helen Graham (Leeds) and Nigel Nayling (Lampeter, Wales) as co-investigators, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, Thrive, Lik:t. Glasgow Life/Glasgow Museums, the Friends of Newport Ship and Over the Waves as community partners and the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement as project partner.

Project summary

This project brought together community partners and academics from 4 existing Connected Communities (CC) projects in a workshop and small working groups to share ideas and experiences and develop guidance and learning materials on ethics in community-based participatory research (CBPR). The project was supported by international advisors from 5 countries and the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) as a partner.

Recently interest has grown in CBPR - that is, research tackling issues relevant to communities of place, interest and identity and involving affected people in planning, undertaking, disseminating and using research. CBPR approaches are regarded as particularly useful in the context of 'hard to reach' communities, and in research on sensitive issues. Many ethical challenges arise in CBPR - particularly in relation to the power of professional researchers, the blurring of boundaries between community members and researchers and the inflexibility of institutional structures (including university research ethics committees) to cope with unpredictability and complex partnership arrangements.