The decision for a researcher to become involved in a CEnR project can be a complex one with many factors to consider. As CEnR exists on a continuum, your involvement with the community can vary in time, commitment and scope; and may be designed to meet multiple goals.21,24 Remember that you are viewed as an expert in your field and, as such, community members may want to tap into your expertise without the need or desire to take on an entire research project. With proper guidance, planning and support provided by the CHEER team, researchers can engage with their community through rich, meaningful partnerships to address important community concerns, reduce health disparities and promote wellness. When determining if a research collaboration will be a good match with a community partner, consider the following11,17,25 (and see Section 6 for solutions to these considerations!).
To what degree of intensity does the research involve community engagement? What is the estimated time frame of the study? The duration of CEnR projects can range from months to years. Researchers must allot time to be inclusive of community partners and their priorities in research activities.
Will involvement in the project require the hiring of additional staff members, trainings or other resources? Will you have someone (e.g. engagement coordinator) who can be the liaison to the community to ensure feedback integration?
What compensation (salary and benefits), stipends, etc. will be provided to community partners and other stakeholders? Are there other reimbursements to take into consideration, such as meeting costs or travel costs?
Is there an understanding and appreciation of the community/population under study? What considerations are being given to cultural differences, including race, ethnicity, language and geography? Are there power dynamics to consider among research team members and/or community partners?
What modes of communication will be used? Do community partners have ease of access to them? How will community partners be informed about changes in the research, updates and overall dissemination of information?
How will the results of the study be shared with community partners and other stakeholders? Are community partners included in any research publications? What are the publishing standards that warrant community partner inclusion?
Are there protocols in place to deal with challenges that may arise? Are there established guidelines should a member(s) of the CEnR research team want to terminate the partnership?