Principle 2: 

Acknowledge issues of power and work for more equitable and trusting research partnerships

CBPR brings together academic researchers and implementing organisations (who often have more privileged backgrounds ) and community researchers who are more likely to come from marginalised groups related to the research area being addressed. Efforts must be made to acknowledge and reduce differences in power for more trusting, equitable partnerships. Several competencies can support efforts to acknowledge and embrace differences. These include exploring, appreciating and embracing different cultures, knowledges, abilities, races, genders and social classes. This requires critical reflexivity among researchers to recognise their own biases and limitations that inform research assumptions and approaches. CPBR actively works towards the transfer of power in the relationship and research process – e.g. by prioritising the knowledge of less powerful people in the partnership with the aim of social justice. 

Capacities (Competencies and Conditions)


        Openness to discuss issues of power that may have contributed to  distrust between academically trained researchers and community partners

        Cultural competence: for example, understanding of intra-group disparities and openness to making partners more culturally sensitive and open to alternative ways of thinking and ways of doing things  (4)

        Cultural humility: capacity to reflect on personal, locational, institutional and structural power and to redress power imbalances to develop and maintain mutually respectful and dynamic partnerships with (as a researcher) and within communities (as a community researcher) (4)

        Mindfulness of local cultures and ways of doing things (1)

        Ability to promote and practise equal opportunities for participation and leadership by all members within and outside the research partnership to redress inequity and power differentials

        Commitment to understanding the realities facing communities affected by the research area

        Demonstration of integrity and trustworthiness, emotional intelligence, compassion and humility

  •         Better understanding of what unearned privilege means, and how that may affect working relationships

            Improved communication, sensitivity and quality of the relationship with partners with different cultural backgrounds

            Improved cultural relevance of the research undertaken and benefits to the community

            Improved support from community-based organisations, leaders and members

            Shift in beliefs and norms towards cultural humility

            Minimised levels of distrust between disadvantaged social groups, researchers, non-governmental institutions and government institutions

    ●    Improved insights into who is disadvantaged and excluded and efforts to act on this

  •         Activities that provide the opportunity to explore one’s identity and power within the partnership and within the wider community. Examples:

              Access and control matrix

              Chapatti Diagram

              Power line

            Use ice breakers such as “what’s the meaning of your name?” to help build trust and familiarity while also increasing members’ understanding of each other’s backgrounds and cultures

            Awareness of the way partners sit together (floor or chairs) and how they address each other        Apply “privilege” checklists or tools to help members of dominant cultures to better understand the unspoken advantages they carry by virtue of their positionality and how it can affect work with other cultures. Examples:  


              ‘Challenging Ourselves: Critical Self-Reflection on Power and Privilege’ tool

             Power Flower tool

            Design and develop research protocols in partnership with community research partners to ensure cultural relevance

            Explore different physical and mental capacities and tools that can maximise participation in research partnerships and data collection with community members


              See adapted photovoice methods for people with disabilities 

            Find out formal and informal protocols or processes within a community that must be used to ensure no harm comes to individuals. Think about engagement of people beyond existing or dominant protocols who may often be excluded from these processes

            Ensure ongoing evaluation so that the program remains adaptable and innovative in response to the changing needs of new community research partners or broader community members

            Use mapping activities to identify local ways of expressing, educating and facilitating change that embrace differences and assets. Examples:

    Transect walks

    Social mapping

            Apply exercises and capture narratives that explore language, potential stigmatisation, pity or victimisation and review particular idioms in context for meaning so that the core research team understands these as they are meant see Daniella’s Story and ‘Lessons on community participation in research’


            Offer incentives for participation, conduct outreach to uninvolved sectors of population

  •         Diversity of partnership members in terms of age, gender, race/ethnicity, disability, sexuality and differing viewpoints within co-researcher and researcher groups

            Evidence of new members invited into the research partnership or adapted sampling of participants during research if initially not represented

            Engagement with other groups representing marginalised populations

            Number of training sessions/discussions about stigma, language, idioms used

            Verified commitment to creating non-hierarchical structures within the research team. Evidence of this presented through meeting observations, use of language and titles between team members etc.

            Type and frequency of discussion spaces created for addressing power, stigma, language and cultural humility

            Protocol/tool adaptations by coresearchers to respond to diversity and cultural relevance

            Training/presentations/reflections delivered by co-researchers to researchers and policy makers on cultural and racial, Class, gender and other differential aspects of communities

            Evidence of changes in beliefs, norms, perceptions and understandings of academic and community researchers in research partnership

            Demonstrated changes in trust across the research partnership – through reflexivity exercises

            Number and quality of engagement or observation activities focused on a better understanding of local culture


            Adapted participation mechanisms for people with different abilities

  •         Value creation stories

            Reflexivity session (audio/written/other)

            Meeting minutes and attendance sheets

            Memorandum of Understanding

            Terms of Reference/Operational guidelines for core research teams

            Meeting minutes, photos, drawings capturing discussions related to power and diversity exploration activities

            Outputs generated that show evidence of cultural diversity through narratives        Co-researcher and participant selection processes defined and inclusive


            Adapted sampling strategies for engaging diverse research participants

            Recordings, transcripts/quotes from exercises that explore diversity

            Stories/narratives reflecting on issues of race, ethnicity, class,  gender, age, social class etc.

            Evidence of changes in research protocols or approach that responds/adapts to cultural diversity – track changes or comments from original protocol – evidence of discussion/validation of appropriateness in relation to the original protocol

            Research partnership list of members

            Interviews, focus group discussions or documented reflexivity discussions that explore relational aspects including the development of trust Audio visual outputs such as blogs, vlogs and podcasts

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