Click on each module below for readings, videos, and more . . .


  • Research in the academic and community contexts
  • The why
  • Origins of CEnR
  • Principles of CEnR
  • Case examples of CEnR
  • How CEnR fits into your research interests

 Reading & Videos 

As you may know from reading other things about this course, all the readings are open source. That means you do not have to purchase text books or attend or work at a university to get to the readings. The following readings and videos have been selected to orient you to community-engaged research (CEnR).


Getting back to basics …

Want to learn more about the basics of research? Would like a bit of a refresher? Check out this research overview by the Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries. They will continue to add to these resources. Let us know if you have additional suggestions.

If your interest is sparked …

Want to hear more from Barbara Holland? Watch the speech she gave on her March 2015 visit to Virginia Commonwealth University: Strategic Importance of Community Engagement in the Future of Research Universities. Her part starts around 11 minutes. She presents the argument for why engagement should have a critical role in how institutions of higher education achieve their mission.

Barbara’s seminal article on key organizational factors for assessing institutional change for community engagement.

Barbara often references Cathy Trower’s work A Perfect Storm: Gen X and Today’s Academic Culture

The following articles are often referenced and are considered key works about the role of community engagement in higher education:


  • Power dynamics and social justice
  • Ethical and human subjects considerations

Readings & Videos

These readings and videos are open-source and available to anyone.

As we consider the ethical implications of community-engaged research, we should consider history. Here are two case examples that illustrate this point.

The East Marshall Street Well Project : In April 1994, human bones and artifacts from the 19th century were discovered in an abandoned well uncovered during construction on Virginia Commonwealth University’s MCV Campus. The well’s contents are believed to have been discarded in the 1800s by medical staff. The work of the East Marshall Street Well Planning Committee is to implement a community process that encourages learning about the human remains discovered near East Marshall Street and seeks community input in the formation of a “steering committee.” The “steering committee” will serve to represent the “descendant community” that will make recommendations on behalf of those individuals whose remains were discovered to support appropriate study, memorialization and reburial with dignity.

Watch this 5 minute synopsis by Svee Smiley of the documentary “Until The Well Runs Dry: Medicine & the Exploitation of Black Bodies” directed by Shawn Utsey Ph.D. It chronicles the involvement of some well known medical colleges participating in the illegal grave robbing of Black cemeteries during the 19th century.

Optional: Get involved – see the website for more information.

Henrietta Lacks was born on August 1, 1920, in Roanoke, Virginia. Lacks died of cervical cancer on October 4, 1951, at age 31. Cells taken from her body without her knowledge were used to form the HeLa cell line, which has been used extensively in medical research since that time. Lacks’s case has sparked legal and ethical debates over the rights of an individual to his or her genetic material and tissue. It also contributes to some of the distrust of academic medical research. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot tells her story, and was part of the Virginia Commonwealth University Summer Reading Program in 2013.

Listen to the RadioLab podcast about Henrietta Lacks.

 Research Ethics Reconsidered in the Context of Community-Engaged Research

Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) and the University of New England, with support from a grant from the Greenwall Foundation, recently sought feedback on a revised draft of the 1979 Belmont Report and set of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) research ethics regulations.  Examine the proposed revisions to the 1979 Belmont Report on ethics in research.


As you consider research ethics in the context of community-engaged research:

Read  The Belmont Report and HHS Regulations and the 2015 Revisions. Explore other readings that you discover – this is a great opportunity to find out what others are discussing.

Optional: Tweet your ideas and reactions.


Reflect on the issues you discovered in a blog post, including the proposed policy changes. Here are some questions to get you started.

  • Do you think that changes should be made to the federal policy?
  • What proposed changes do you agree with? Why?
  • What proposed changes do you NOT agree with? Why?
  • What suggestions do you have?
  • What could be unintended consequences of the proposed changes?
  • How would these changes impact a research study you are interested in conducting?
  • How would these proposed changes impact the review process by an Institutional Review Board or a Community Review Board?
  • Comment on each other’s blogs, consider their thoughts and perspectives.


  • Spectrum of CEnR
  • International perspectives on CEnR
  • Community-engaged research grant writing

Readings & Videos

These readings and videos are intended to help you explore the spectrum of community-engaged research.


Spectrum of Community-Engaged Research – These readings and videos focus on the issue of homelessness and on work being done here in Richmond, Virginia.

Watch the recorded expert panel interview with Leticia R. Moczygemba, Pharm.D., Ph.D. and  Robert D. Osborn, LCSW.

Read their Development and Implementation of an Academic-Community Partnership to Enhance Care among Homeless Persons.


On Grants: Grant Writing, and finding grants to support community-engaged research.

A large part of your graded work for this course is the development of a draft community-engaged research grant proposal. Your final assignment of the proposal project will ask you to consider your draft proposal-to-date as it may relate to a potential funding source that you identify. To prepare, read the following. As you find more resources, be sure to add and tag them to Diigo.

Community Engagement in Research: Frameworks for Education and Peer Review by Syed M. Ahmed, MD, DrPH and Ann-Gel S. Palermo, MPH.

Community-engaged research grant writing tips and resources by VCU’s Division of Community Engagement.

VCU’s Council for Community Engagement Grants. (Note: we recently added funding to develop CEnR Partnerships).

This case study of a longstanding community-academic CBPR partnership funded by NIH, Walk together children with no wasted steps: community-academic partnering for equal power in NIH proposal development, examines issues at two stages that arose during (1) joint proposal preparation, and (2) grant administration.

VCU’s Office of Research and Innovation has resources on identifying, writing and submitting grants. Your home (or future) university or department may have other resources to explore.

Watch this series of #CuriousCoLab Shorts: Funding and Grants


Open Scholarship and Community-Engaged Research

As George Veletsianos says in Assumptions and Challenges of Open Scholarship, “scholars are finding themselves in a position in which they can shape and/or be shaped by openness”. 

As you consider open scholarship and community-engaged research, read or watch the following:

Veletsianos’ Assumptions and Challenges of Open Scholarship

Scholarship in Public: Knowledge Creation and Tenure Policy in the Engaged University – A Resource on Promotion and Tenure in the Arts, Humanities, and Design by Imagining America

Jesse Stommel’s talk on social justice through open scholarship

Tressie McMillan Cottom joined VCU in the fall of 2015 as an assistant professor of sociology. She has written on open scholarship. Below are two suggested blog posts:

Everything But The Burden: Publics, Public Scholarship, And Institutions

Make it Plain: Research, Dissertations, and Blogging in Plain Talk


Reflect on the issues you discovered. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • How do community-engaged scholarship and open scholarship relate?
  • What are pros and cons of being an open scholar?
  • How might open scholarship affect the relevancy and impact of your research?
  • What could be some unintended consequences of open scholarship for you or your research partners?
  • How might open scholarship influence your development of a research proposal?
  • How might open scholarship impact your employment opportunities, whether in academic or non-academic positions.
  • Don’t forget to comment on each other’s blogs, consider their thoughts and perspectives, maybe even link to them.


  • Creating a research team
  • Qualities of strong partnerships
  • Cultural considerations


Readings & Videos

These readings and videos are intended to help you explore techniques for collaborative relationship-building.

Collaborative Community Relationships

This Intellection asks you to reflect on the ways you intend to develop and maintain collaborative relationships with your research partners. Share your thoughts on your blog by Friday, June 17 at 5 p.m. EDT. Use “CuriousCoLab” as the category for this post and tag it as “reflection4”.

We have seen and discussed a variety of approaches to community relationships in community-engaged research. Given your research question, how do you intend to approach your community in order to establish a relationship that will support a shared research agenda? Based on your reading and experience, what has been done before and worked? What hasn’t worked?



Note key characteristics of your community partners that are likely to impact the dynamics in the relationship (e.g.  culture, history, power, resources, stigma, politics, legal issues).

How you make your presence known within a community and negotiate relationships with community partners varies by your community’s characteristics, your established presence within the community, and the research questions and plans you hope to pursue. Identify your proposed approach(es) to developing a formal, working relationship with that community/community partner. For example, are you hoping to create an executive or working board? If so, explain the general structure and purpose of the group, your ideal membership, etc.

Demonstrate how you propose to address the practical issues you will face in establishing a formal, trust-based working relationship. Be sure to either include this in your post, or link to it from your post. Some examples (which are by no means exhaustive) include:

  • Design a handout or PowerPoint slide that explains how you plan to describe the purpose and value of a proposed community advisory board to potential community partners.
  • Create a web-based invitation to a meeting at which you hope to explain your plan to the community.
  • Create a blog post that introduces you to the community as a community researcher and explains how you plan to make yourself and your plans available for their consideration. Remember, you want to hear their voices and consider changing the research designs to reflect their interests and concerns.


  • Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR)
  • Participatory Action Research (PAR)


Readings & Videos

These readings will introduce the two of the most common methodologies in community-engaged research: community-based participatory research (CBPR) and participatory action research (PAR). Additional resources are widely available.

  • Participatory Action Research and Organizational Change – This site was created as part of a PhD course in research methods. The goal was to investigate Participatory Action Research (PAR) and to assemble resources, both theoretical and practical, for those considering using a PAR approach. This resource is included partly for its usefulness, but also as inspiration for what can be developed as a lasting and open source resource.
  • Developing and Sustaining Community-Based Participatory Research Partnerships: A Skill-Building Curriculum – This curriculum is intended as a tool for use by community-university partnerships that are using or planning to use a CBPR approach to improving health. It you haven’t checked out the CCPH website, you should. It has a lot of very good resources, and a highly appreciated conference. Follow them @CCPH2010.


Recorded Expert Panel: Participatory Action Research with Homeless Youth

In this recorded interview, Alex Wagaman and Elaine Williams discuss participatory action research with homeless youth.


Methodology Presentation

As we have heard and read, a critical component of CEnR is building the research capacity of our community partners. One important step in that process is to develop a shared understanding about the proposed research methodology for a collaborative CEnR project. Consider developing a presentation for community partners describing  specific research methods that could be used in your community-engaged research (CEnR).


While there are many methods that can be used for CEnR, we are focusing on two of the most common in this course: community-based participatory research (CBPR) or participatory action research (PAR). The prior content in the course and this week’s readings provide an initial exposure to these methods. Additional academic and open resources are widely available.



  • Imagine your community partner has invited you to deliver a 30 minute presentation about a research method (CBPR or PAR) that you think would be appropriate for the proposed project.
  • Prepare a PowerPoint presentation that you would use in a meeting with your community partners to describe the research method and show its connection to the proposed research. This presentation should provide sufficient detail about the method, but be useful as a handout for a lay audience.
  • Prepare approximately 10 to 15 power point slides.
  • Use any presentation application (e.g. PowerPoint, Google slides, Prezi, etc). If you use Prezi, beware of motion sickness from too much zooming around.
  • What are 3-5 critical decisions you and your community partners will need to make in order to move forward with using this method for the project?



  • Engagement of all partners in collecting and analyzing data
  • Photovoice
  • Civic media

Readings & Videos

These readings will introduce techniques and approaches to working with communities to collect and analyze data. Additional resources are widely available.

  • The Power and the Promise: Working With Communities to Analyze Data, Interpret Findings, and Get to Outcomes
  • The PhotoVoice Manual – The manual is intended to give an introduction to the power of participatory photography as a tool for social change for marginalised groups. Optional: Explore the other resources on the PhotoVoice website.
  • This article on a participatory group process to analyze qualitative data (this article is no longer open source, but it is a good article. So, if you can find it through your library, it is worth a read)
  • This article on the results from the data & democracy initiative to enhance community-based organization data and research capacity
  • This article on assessing research activity and capacity of community-based organizations

Recorded Expert Panels:

Before watching the Civic Media in Community-Engaged Research Shorts, review the following:

  • Civic Media Project – The Civic Media Project (CMP) is a collection of short case studies from scholars and practitioners from all over the world. These authors reflect on the practices associated with the intentional effort of one or many individuals to benefit or disrupt a community or institution outside of one’s intimate and professional spheres.
  • Playful Civic Learning: Enabling Lateral Trust and Reflection in Game-based Public Participation by Eric Gordon and Jessica Baldwin-Philippi

Also watch the Collaborative Data Collection and Analysis Shorts for real world (at VCU!) example of collaborative data collection and analysis.


Social Network Analysis

Consider the relationships and connections made in this course using the Twitter data aggregated from the hashtag #CuriousCoLab. SNA can be a powerful tool in community-engaged research (CEnR). It is a technique that is used to picture a community and to understand the relationships within it. SNA can also be used to identify and document how information is disseminated within the community.

Click on the TAGSExplorer. Looking at the cloud from afar, it appears as a massive, tightly knit ball representing the #CuriousCoLab community. When you zoom in (using your mouse zoom) and click on each node, you can see details of each person’s contribution to the #CuriousCoLab community.

Play around with the #CuriousCoLab cloud and click on each tab. Using the Search Archive tab, enter your screen name (@your_name). Replay your tweets and watch the timeline of events unfold before your eyes.


  • Describe the #CuriousCoLab cloud from a broad analytical perspective on connections and relationships.
  • Describe your personal contribution to the #CuriousCoLab cloud including number and pattern of tweets, timeline, connections, clusters, mentions and replies. Summarize it in the context of the #CuriousCoLab cloud.
  • Reflect on how you could or plan to grow your personal learning network through Twitter.
  • Reflect on how you could or plan to use SNA in your community-engaged research agenda.


  • Best practices in dissemination, including shared authorship
  • Alternative dissemination platforms
  • Ways to share information (e.g. infographics, newsletters, twitter,website)


Readings & Videos

These readings will introduce the dissemination and translation/application of research. Additional resources are widely available.


The dissemination of key findings is a crucial step in community-engaged research, but one that can be forgotten in the research process. Many argue that it is an ethical obligation to ensure that research findings are disseminated to research participants, as well as others who could benefit from the knowledge.

  • This VCU Research Dissemination Guide was developed by the Faculty Learning Community (FLC) on Dissemination of Research Findings Using Web-Based Platforms. Offered in the 2015-16 academic year, the members explored various web-based dissemination methods, created and implemented their dissemination plans. This guide is a reflection of the lessons learned and resources that were accessed to inform their learning and plans.
  • This document offered through Community Alliance for Research and Engagement provides key strategies for dissemination, including practical advice and specific templates you can adapt for your use.
  • This is document offered through the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality that was developed to help researchers evaluate their research and develop appropriate dissemination plans.
  • This guide is an introduction to the emerging fields of effectiveness research, diffusion research, dissemination research and implementation sciences, the latter three having been categorized by the NIH and CDC as key components of ‘translation research’.
  • This document by SAGE sets out handy tips on how to get a journal article published.


Expert Panel: Getting Noticed

Dissemination Plan

A primary goal of community-engaged research is that the findings improve the health and well-being of the community. Dissemination, therefore, is an essential activity. Consider developing a dissemination plan for your proposed community-engaged research project.


Review the  VCU Research Dissemination Guide and the documents by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and Community Alliance for Research and Engagement. Consider how you would create a dissemination plan to address the 6 major elements outlined here.



In a dissemination plan, how would you:

  • Clearly identify a target audience. (e.g. policy makers, community members, research participants, service providers, etc.). Your target audience is not academic researchers.
  • Write a summary that outlines a basic dissemination plan for this audience based on this structure under “Developing a Summary” in Section V.
  • Develop a sample document that could be distributed to your target audience as part of your dissemination plan. For examples and templates of this “dissemination document”, see VCU Research Dissemination Guide or here . However, you are not limited to those formats – you also may consider a webpage, blog, series of Tweets, Facebook page, etc.
  • Consider how you plan to engage your community-partners in the developing this plan.