This first principle emphasizes the significance of undertaking research with a group of people who have a self-proclaimed and agreed shared identity related to the research area. This group of people are often termed ‘co-researchers’ or ‘community researchers’. They are defined as equal research partners that are directly impacted by the research focus and have an active role in the ‘research partnership’ together with academic researchers and supporting organisations (see Figure 1). They are likely to be involved in setting the research agenda, co-designing the research process and collecting and analysing data for social change. Therefore, identifying who the community researchers are and establishing a shared identity becomes critical as a starting point for CBPR work. Ideally a group of community members would approach a research partnership for support, already having a shared identity and goal, however this is not always the case. In some circumstances, research institutions or organisations will present an opportunity to be involved in a research process that will benefit them and the people around them. In this case academic researchers or organisations will work with the broader community to understand who would be ideally placed, and interested, in taking part in a research process that has potential benefits for their community. In both cases exploring identity takes time and requires competencies and conditions to maximise and solidify the research partnership. ‘Identity’ in this context extends beyond geography and depends heavily on community research partners’ perceptions of their shared experience, goals or emotional connectivity (1). People may belong to multiple geographical communities and so working to identify the specific community of relevance for the work is important and requires competencies that allow for exploring what identity means at different levels – both as an individual and relationally.
*Please note that some statements are adaptations or direct quotes from the papers listed in the reference section