Principle 5:

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).

Competencies and/or conditions

  • Self-reflection and listening skills to reflect on the ability to share power in the partnership.
  • Capacity to balance competing interests between community researchers, the broader community and academic researchers/supporting organisations.
  • Capacity to uphold common values, practices and behaviours that contribute positively to CBPR partnerships (collaborative spirit, trust, flexibility, honesty, transparency, ethical, forward looking, equitable, open minded)
  • 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(10) 
  • Be able to consider ‘Goodness of fit’ (attitudes, beliefs) for the compatibility and suitability of the partnership for the proposed CBPR project. 
  • Awareness of the 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 and other potential obstacles/enablers of strong partnerships(11).
  • Proficient leadership: developing the appropriate connections, being able to motivate and inspire others and being credible and legitimate in the proposed priority setting with the key stakeholders
  • Expertise in democratic leadership and/or facilitation to support and facilitate equitable partnerships and participation 
  • Understanding and ownership of varying roles within a group; catalyst, facilitator, co-learner, and/or consultant
  • Ability to formulate explicit attention to the knowledge of community members, and an emphasis on sharing information, decision making power, resources, and support among members of the partnership
    • All stakeholder perceptions are gathered about the evolution of a project, its collective action process and strategies, leadership, vision and partnerships.
    • Consensus is built.
    • 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 and affairs(12)
    • Integrity of partnerships is preserved through mutual respect and trust, both of which are fostered in decision-making environments that support diversity and allow partners to express and accommodate their different points of view through ongoing, open, and honest dialogue
    • Attentive listening, openness, caring, inclusiveness, agreement to disagree, identifying and addressing conflicts, opportunity for all to participate, negotiate, compromise, develop mutual respect, and equality are fostered
    • Supports partner readiness (i.e. goodness of fit, capacity, operations) which lays the groundwork to achieve preferred outcomes including a sustainable partnership and products, policy change and mutual growth(11)
    • Strengthened relationships through formal group activities and informal time and space for getting to know each other better 
    • Development of community and academic researcher capacity, empowerment, and ownership 
    • 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.
    • Improves understanding for citizens of their rights and additionally their responsibilities for the common good.
    • Increases the possibility of overcoming any understandable distrust of research on the part of communities 
    • Creates genuine partnerships demonstrated by a commitment to co-learning between academic and community partners.
    • Research partnerships have the potential to last longer than any one cohort of learners, as they are nurtured from year to year and are adapted and revised as the research needs of the community evolve.
    • More effective and honest communication, an increase in trust, and better appreciation of one another’s limitations and strengths.
    • Talking circles where participants sit in a circle and discuss specified 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’ utilise tools such as ‘Questions to guide the identification of the optimal mix of partners in participatory partnerships’(9) 
    • 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’
    • Transparent discussion of anticipated mutual benefit to each partner and their respective organizations to foster the relationship and contribute to mutual understanding and growth.
    • 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 
    • Joint development of 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 (Mercer et al. 2008). 
    • 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 ‘Climate’ which refers to the political and social contexts of the environment, including attitudes, beliefs and trust. Often, the climate is assessed based on past history and prior knowledge of the partners, their respective organizations and the community
    • Evidence of shared decision making with guidance from community partners 
    • Demonstrated consensus on the issues that will be addressed by the partnership
    • Co-learning and reflexive processes developed that address the needs of the intended beneficiaries and builds on the strengths
    • Establishment of operating norms, principles, values and an organizational 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 
    • Formalized structures defining organizational 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 major 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 coalition 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.(13)
    • Co-developed operating norms, values and principles for the partnership
    • Team building exercises – agenda and outcomes
    • Case studies of partnership assessment exercises
    • Ground rules or memorandums of understanding
    • Operating procedures
    • CBPR principles renamed to local context 
    • Record of group time spent meeting as an organization
    • Organizational structure-subcommittees, bylaws, planning mechanism, leadership stability and renewal policies (Taylor-Powell et al., 1998) 
    • Member participation—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

*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