Was it good for you too? Impediments to conducting university-based collaborative research with communities experiencing disadvantage

Authors


Correspondence to:
Dr Sarah MacLean, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, 54–62 Gertrude Street,Fitzroy, Victoria, 3065. Fax: (03) 9416 3420; e-mail: sarah.maclean@turningpoint.org.au

Abstract

Objective: Collaborative and participatory research (CPR) models are increasingly recognised as methodologically, ethically and practically appropriate to conducting health and welfare research involving disadvantaged communities. This paper identifies impediments to CPR and proposes measures to support and encourage future CPR in Australian universities.

Methods: This paper draws on a small qualitative study of university-based CPR projects in Melbourne. The study involved a literature review and interviews with 23 participants, comprising university-based researchers and community liaison officers, and community representatives involved in university-based research projects.

Results: The paper outlines four main difficulties encountered by university-based researchers and community liaison staff in conducting CPR. These are: managing community sensitivities, the time-consuming nature of the work and diverse tasks involved, difficulty securing adequate research funding, and a concern that CPR was detrimental to academic careers.

Conclusion: CPR in universities might be supported in the future through providing CPR training for researchers, employing additional community liaison staff, recognising community reports within the Australian research quality evaluation system Excellence in Research for Australia, adopting supportive policies within universities and provision of dedicated CPR funding.

Implications: In the current Australian university context of competitive funding, further research into CPR nationally, alongside dedicated resources and policies are required to maximise the benefits of this approach.

Ancillary