Principle 1:

Principle 1:

The community researchers have an agreed shared identity in the research partnership

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.


Competencies and/or conditions

  • Ability to explore identity and connection with shared goals (ethnoracially, emotionally, socioeconomically and others), considering both the setting (the location of research) and agent (the subject of research intervention).
  • Capacity to explore characterization of the partnership by a sense of identification and emotional connection to other research partners and the broader community with common symbol systems, shared values and norms, mutual- although not necessarily equal-influence, common interests, and commitment to meeting shared needs(2).
  • A context specific understanding of intersectionality, identity and positionality within the broader community as well as within the research partnership.
  • Ability to recognise and respond to the ways that inequalities among community members may shape participation and influence of certain people in collective research and action.
  • Ability to recognise difference and diversity within the community linked to individual characteristics that could shape sub-communities and or collective identities amongst sub-groups within one community.
    • Participation in a research partnership for social change provides an opportunity to give expression to relevant aspects of identity.
    • By participating together as a ‘unit of shared identity’, research partners become more sociable and can have a greater sense of social integration, social cohesion or social solidarity.
    • Having a shared identity can improve participation and stimulate community development through better involvement and ownership.
    • Shared values can bring research partners together and enhance cohesion and provide a rationale for collective action.
    • Exploring identity can lead to new relational practices and a new unit of identity linked to the research process.
    • A better understanding of one’s own position, intersectionality and identity within the research partnership and within the broader community. For example – someone may be particularly powerful within the research partnership but particularly marginalised in the ‘community’
    • Partners tend to migrate to others with whom they are comfortable and perceive similarity in values and styles of working together.
    • Connecting people who may have a shared interest in the research area to establish the ‘community’
    • Exploring shared identities as a research partnership either verbally or through creative methods – drawing metaphorical representation, writing stories and comparing identity in the stories or graphic illustration
    • Undertaking ‘getting to know you’ activities
    • Reflection on the term ‘community’ and what it means for research partners within the scope of the research and within their wider daily life and other social and professional groups that they belong together.
    • Re-defining the terms ‘positionality’, ‘intersectionality’ and ‘identity’ to have local significance within the group -see how a group of African Americans relabelled CBPR principles
    • Reflexivity sessions focused on power, intersectionality, identity and positionality – as a collective group, individual research diaries (written/audio recorded) or with another research partner
    • Collecting data from the broader ‘community’ on their identity and establishing how this relates to the research area and research partnership identity
    • Accessible training or other participatory activities/tools that explore intersectionality, identity and positionality e.g.

    The Tree of Life 
    River of Life 
    Metaphors to explore identity in relation to others 
    Person-Centered Ways to Build Community

    • A definition of the research partnership’s identity that reflects shared connections within the research partnership and within the broader community
    • Evidence of a collective identity that evolves over time – e.g. evidence of revisions to identity definitions
    • Number of activities conducted to explore identity and positionality of the research partnership in relation to the research focus and the wider community
    • Number of reflexivity sessions held that represent a ‘deep dive’ into identity within the partnership/broader community throughout the research process at each stage; demonstrating how identity changes through the research journey
    • Demonstrated changes in understanding of positionality
    • Definition of ‘identity’ in Terms of Reference or Memorandum of understanding for the research partnership
    • Relational stories that reflect on group activities or shared learning as a partnership* or ‘a community’ – transcriptions, recording and photos from discussions
    • Notes or flipcharts, maps, Venn Diagrams, tree/rivers of life, drawings from exercises that explore identify
    • Extracts from a research diary – agreed to be shared by a research partner 
    • Altered definitions of individual, collective positionality – written, verbal, creative representation

*Please note that some statements are adaptations or direct quotes from the papers listed in the reference section