Our Principles

Shaking the Tree of Science: COBRE’s Principles for Community Empowering Research

Below we advance five principles of community-empowering research and present five questions that community members posed to the COBRE. These principles were developed through an 18-month process that included public workshops, contributions from dozens of community activists and leaders, feedback from local recovery advocacy and harm reduction organizations, and extensive input from the COBRE’s Community Advisory Board. They incorporate critiques and concerns about research practices that we have heard dozens, sometimes hundreds, of times. They also seek to codify some of what is innovative and vital in our current efforts. Not every COBRE project will implement these principles perfectly, at once, or in the same way. By their nature principles are flexible and sometimes require balancing both against each other and the constraints of time and resources. Community empowering research is an ideal. By adopting these principles, we have pledged to take concrete steps toward better realizing this ideal in our collective scientific work.

Five Principles of Community Empowering Research

  1. Research should be shaped by communities and researchers
  2. Research should be community building and benefit communities
  3. Research should center marginalized voices
  4. Results should be brought back to communities and shared accessibly
  5. Community labor should be fairly compensated

Five Questions for Researchers

  1. Is our approach trauma informed?
  2. Have we considered hidden labor that we are asking community members to perform?
  3. Are we being tokenistic?
  4. Are we making ourselves accountable to the communities that we study?
  5. Have we done our homework?

View the COBRE’s Principles for Community Empowered Research document.