Principle 5: 

Facilitate equitable partnerships in all research phases by building mutually respectful relationships and shared decision-making

This principle is focused on minimising and addressing the inherent inequalities within research partnerships by building trusting and mutually respectful relationships within the research partnership and with the broader community. The foundations of respectful relationships are open communication, information and power sharing, and joint decision making throughout the research process (1).


Capacities (competencies and conditions)

        Self-reflection and listening skills for power sharing in the partnership

        Capacity to balance and discuss competing interests between community researchers, the broader community, academic researchers and supporting organisations

        Capacity to uphold common values, practices and behaviours that contribute positively to CBPR partnerships

        Capacity to be flexible, accommodating (open and respectful), compromising (to achieve consensus) and committed to move the partnership and project forward

        Ability and confidence to be a guiding voice in the development and execution of a co-created research agenda (12)

        Ability to consider ‘Goodness of fit’ (4) in terms of attitudes, beliefs, values for the compatibility and suitability of the partnership for the proposed CBPR project.

        Awareness of potential obstacles or enablers of strong partnerships, such as structures (i.e., governing bodies, associations, policies), processes (i.e. consenting or approval, procurement and allocation of resources), communication exchange, decision making, leadership influences, pace and timelines (13)

        Proficient leadership skills – developing the appropriate connections, motivating and inspiring others

        Expertise in democratic leadership and/or facilitation

        Understanding and ownership of varying roles within a group; catalyst, facilitator, co-learner and/or consultant

        Ability focus on sharing information, decision making power, resources and support 

  •         All stakeholder perceptions on the evolution of a project are shared through collective action strategies and vision

            Increased participation and confidence within the community to acquire, retain or enhance dignity and self-esteem and confirms that its members are valuable and can contribute to civil society (14)

            Integrity of partnerships is preserved through mutual respect and trust

            Partnerships that have; attentive listening, openness, caring, inclusiveness, agreement to disagree, conflicts resolution, opportunity for all to participate, negotiation, compromise, mutual respect and equality are fostered

            Strengthened relationships through formal group activities and informal time and space for getting to know each other better

            Greater assurance that community researchers’, and broader community members’ ethical and safeguarding concerns will be addressed respectfully and that participants, intended users, beneficiaries, and stakeholders will be protected from potential harms

            Improved understanding of rights and responsibilities for the common good

            Increased trust in research and evidence

            More effective and honest communication

  •         Set up talking circles where participants sit in a circle and discuss specific topics until consensus is reached. An object (a feather, a talking stick or a stone) is passed from one participant to another and the holder of the object has an opportunity to speak

            To assess ‘goodness of fit’ (4) utilise tools such as ‘Questions to guide the identification of the optimal mix of partners in participatory partnerships’ (10)

            Ensure active involvement in all research phases of those affected by an issue. Within this fully democratic model, all partners codirect each phase of the research process – see ‘Key partnership activities to support research and their associated challenges, according to partnership stage’

            Encourage and engage in transparent discussion of anticipated mutual benefit to each partner  to foster relationships

            Facilitate bidirectional exploration and training for ‘good’ communication

            Identify a common set of goals and objectives recognizing that each person involved has their own mission, goals, and objectives. Document the extent to which these are informal or formal written arrangements as decided by the group

            Identify research support that can help the partnership grow such as providing minutes of meetings, actively seeking input on agenda items, circulating materials, establishing media linkages, distributing grant-related and other information, and briefing participants who are unable to attend meetings

            Jointly develop a Code of Research Ethics and Safeguarding from the onset of the project

            Continuously review and redefine the partnership’s vision and strategies

            Employ tools such as the “Reliability-Tested Guidelines for Assessing Participatory Research Projects,” to help periodically check in on how the partnership is doing in terms of group process and effective functioning (10)

            Conduct in-depth, semi-structured interviews and close-ended questionnaires to evaluate or measure the partnership process (1)

            Establish gradations of shared responsibility that are negotiated among the research partnership and supported by open and flexible decision-making environments

            Pay attention to the political and social context, including attitudes, beliefs and trust. 

  •         Evidence of shared decision making with guidance from community partners

            Demonstrated consensus on the issues that will be addressed by the partnership

            Establishment of operating norms, principles, values and an organisational structure, parameters defining equitable participation of all partners at the beginning of a partnership

            Core operating funds provided to develop group infrastructure and research activities

            Formalised structures defining organisational governance with ground rules stating how meetings are conducted, agendas are set and decisions are made

            Demonstrated growth and maturity of a partnership over time, taking corrective actions with lessons learned, and being able to maintain long-term commitment to the partnership and community

            Identified roles and responsibilities of the leaders/members and guidelines to assure accountability to the partnership

            Partnership ‘goals’ clearly defined and shared by partners, as well as shared principles, commitment and values

            Clear and established communication mechanisms (expected frequencies of communication, what communications are needed for what levels of decisions and with whom the communication should occur)

            Evidence of self-satisfied community researcher participation

            Evidence of conflict resolution strategies

            Established norms that encourage respect for group differences and developing mechanisms for constructively challenging group processes that reinforce social inequalities

            Research partnerships dropout rates

            Research partnership participation – level of activity in partnership and number of hours spent on project in average month; categories: Max leaders, Active leaders, Worker members, Active members and Nominal members

            Average number of partners attending meetings in last year and percentage of members serving on subcommittees

            Frequency of individual measures (i) participatory decision making and negotiation, (ii) dialogue and mutual learning; (iii) leadership and stewardship; (iv) task communication and action; (v) self and collective reflection and (vi) influence and power (15)


  •         Co-developed operating norms, values and principles for the partnership

            Agenda and notes from team building exercises

            Case studies of partnership assessment exercises

            Ground rules or memorandums of understanding

            Operating procedures

            Record of group time spent meeting as an organisation

            Organisational structure-subcommittees, bylaws, planning mechanism, leadership stability and renewal policies (16)

            Members’ perceptions of participation, input, cohesiveness of membership, common vision, effective use of member abilities, personal commitment to coalition

            Written, verbal mechanisms to resolve conflict and documented ways in which power is shared to promote equity and mutual ownership

            Qualitative and quantitative data to provide a comprehensive assessment and understanding of group development, function and impact

            Future plans for the partnership written and agreed

            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.
To see full list of references please click here