Other Lessons Learned


It is also important that academic leadership be actively involved with the community partners and the day-to-day research activities. This can be accomplished through attendance at regular team meetings, regular site visits to understand the context of the staff’s daily work environment, and regular meetings with community partner leadership to ensure everyone remains aligned in their goals and operating procedures. Creating field teams in which community staff work side-by-side with research staff toward shared outcomes can enhance this process.

Front-line staff are the pulse of a CBPR project. They are in the community on a daily basis and are usually in the best position to understand what is going on. Give staff considerable autonomy to do their jobs without micromanagement. The academic’s job is to make sure the project operates within the scientific parameters outlined in the community- and IRB-approved protocol and to ensure scientific fidelity. Further, front-line staff should be deeply involved in the development of specific project implementation protocols. When community staff are involved in the implementation of the research project, it is essential that academics trust their expertise and experience. Recognize that community- based staff may work in different ways than academic staff. Regardless of formal educational training, community staff can contribute considerable experiential expertise. Respecting and learning from this expertise is important in community partnerships.

In many CBPR projects, academics may seek different skills and backgrounds in their staff hires versus community leadership. It is important that each side respect their respective hires. It can be beneficial to form a personnel review team that gives equal voice to both the community and academic leadership in a joint review process for both community and academic hires. This helps to ensure that the hires will be received by the community while having the capacity to conduct research. Related, all staff should be evaluated by their ability to achieve project goals within the parameters of the research design, not by whether they rigidly adhere to institutional operating norms. Recognition of the unique skills and expertise brought by research staff who come from community versus academic backgrounds is important in building strong teams. Good leadership will recognize these respective strengths and utilize their staff accordingly.

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