Principle 7

Principle 7:

A cyclical process that supports community action and social change

CBPR involves a cyclical, iterative process that includes partnership development and maintenance, community assessment, problem definition, development of research methodology, data collection and analysis, interpretation of data, determination of action and policy implications, dissemination of results, action taking (as appropriate) and establishment of mechanisms for sustainability (see Figure 2). It includes learning research skills and how they can be applied in a local setting using community knowledge that reflects teaching and learning practices. Figure 2 below shows the cyclical nature of CBPR and some of the steps that are included. 

Figure 2 The cyclical (non-linear) steps within CBPR
Figure 2 The cyclical (non-linear) steps within CBPR

Competencies and/or conditions

  • Understand CBPR (or participatory action research and other co-production approaches) as a continuous cycle of stages such as;
    -initial mobilisation, establishing organisational structure, strengthening capacity, knowledge acquisition, planning for action, implementation, observation and reflection, development of concepts and generalizations.
  • Ability to adapt the cyclical approach which can in practice be, iterative, interlinked and flip between stages. For example, beginning with mobilisation, often community action and organisation may be catalysed at the planning for action phase, if communities are responding to a particular social issue. Therefore, the cyclical process can start at different points for different partners as the research evolves.
  • Competency in goal setting, choosing research partnership members, and obtaining new or mobilising existing resources (material, social, financial).
  • Capacity to choose, plan and apply research methods that align with participatory values (GIS mapping, surveys, photovoice, governance diaries etc), undertake co-analysis and where appropriate use computer software programs.
  • Ability to implement or contribute to the implementation of a research study, identify its strengths and limitations, and draw valid conclusions
  • Appreciate the stages of the process.
  • Ability to examine ethical practice, safeguarding and safety during a research process
    • Better understanding of research processes that lead to change.
    • Project evolution that is responsive to context, change and reflection.
    • Strengthened capacity to lead future research using a systematic and iterative approach.
    • Ability to utilise a range of research methods to capture information and identify community priorities and solutions.
    • Strengthened existing and new forms of community organisation to address priority issues.
    • Increased capacity of researchers to understand and respond to context and changing priorities of communities.
    • Draw on existing community organisation to mobilise community researcher engagement and to encourage them to set the engagement parameters
    • Undertake a prioritisation exercise that will lead onto action planning to ensure consensus across the research partnership
    • Map available resources (social, political, financial, material) that can support the cyclical process and identify gaps which need addressing
    • Link to partnership development principles 1 and 2 to ensure diversity in the research process
    • Undertake capacity strengthening activities as a research partnership to share ideas, protocols and methods for potential use by the group – considering different stages of the cycle
    • Joint problem-solving activities to prioritise and translate evidence into understandable formats that can be used to shape action. Action plans can be developed that: identify gaps, causes of gaps, discrepancies and resolutions, and solutions/actions for filling gaps.
    • Consider action plans that may be formal or informal in terms of documentation. For example, they may be drawn from community action groups who meet regularly and decide what steps they will take that week to promote change in their community (e.g. a savings group deciding to do X for community transformation or a patient advocate network deciding on the actions within that weeks’ advocacy campaign). They may also be complex and detailed plans that draw together multiple stakeholders and are implemented over a longer period. Either approach is equally valid and draws on the cyclical framing of CBPR.
    • Modification of actions as necessary, based on analysis of field notes and assessments following each cycle implementation. This iterative approach to evaluation and development can ensure that each subsequent action considers feedback from prior actions and that the result captures both successes and limitations of the pilot/actions.
    • Learning cycles of action and reflection to inform revisions to the plans (actions and indicators). Regularly re-visiting the monitoring indicators because, although helpful up to that phase, indicators can become more sophisticated as the programme matures, reflecting the increasing complexity of the research.
    • Breakdown CBPR principles and cyclical research technology into local terminology that is context related and supports understanding of cyclical research processes
    • The most significant change (MSC) technique is a form of participatory monitoring and evaluation. It is participatory because many project stakeholders are involved both in deciding the sorts of change to be recorded and in analysing the data. It is a form of monitoring because it occurs throughout the program cycle and provides information to help people manage the program. It contributes to evaluation because it provides data on impact and outcomes that can be used to help assess the performance of the program as a whole.
      Co-analysis working sessions that support the core research team to engage together with research data to identify challenges that should be project priorities.
    • Evidence of priority identification and selection by community partners
    • Evidence of action/reflection cycles
    • Evidence of co-produced research protocols with methods selection and adaptation by community partners
    • Evidence of planning, action and evaluation of research cycles
    • Strengthened capacity for qualitative, participatory research methods
    • Strengthened capacity for quantitative research methods
    • Evidence of critical evaluation of actions and learning applied in subsequent activities
    • A report on the translation and adaptation of the research and communication materials and quality assurance processes
    • Number of co-analysis sessions facilitated that engage all members of the research partnership
    • Evidence of community mobilisation around a specific priority issue
    • Multi-directional recognition of the skills and attributes of all members of the core research team in shaping the cyclical process
    • Research methods co-designed with track changes to show reflections and updates based on co-researcher input
    • Live changes made during data collection activities through debrief sessions, evidenced through debrief recordings, adapted research tools, data transcripts/recordings
    • Action plans 
    • Observations and notes
    • Audio or transcribed reflection and debrief meetings
    • Research cycles and outcomes
    • Interviews or focus group discussions with research partners and other stakeholders engaged in the action/reflection cycle
    • Training PowerPoints and session outlines or screen shots for capacity strengthening 
    • Flip charts from co-analysis sessions
    • Minutes and notes on discussions and engagement within the team and with wider stakeholders

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