Our Scholarship

Community Engaged Research

What is community engaged research?

The following description of Community Engaged Research (CER) incorporates elements of definitions provided by CCPH (Campus Community Partnerships for Health), the Kellogg Foundation, and the federal government:

“Community engaged research must be approached in a spirit of partnership and equitably involve community members, organizational representatives, and researchers in all aspects of the research process. All partners involved in community engaged research contribute expertise and share responsibility and ownership. The goal of community engaged research is to enhance understanding of a given phenomenon and combine knowledge with action to achieve social change which improves the well-being of communities.”

"[A]t its core community-engaged research is focused on non-distributive components of justice often referred to as social justice" (Powers & Faden, 2006). (1)

Do community engaged research projects need to be approved by the Institutional Review Board?

Loyola’s IRB is not charged with determining whether a proposed project embodies the qualities contained in the description of CER. It is charged with adhering to guidelines put forth by the Office of Human Research Protection (OHRP) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The definition of CER is broad with respect to IRB review because the definition of research that is appropriate for IRB involves the use of systematic data collection from human subjects who are identifiable, and is intended to contribute to a generalized body of knowledge. The definition of CER goes beyond this to include, among other desired results, social change. Additionally, federal regulations require that the community which is the focus of a research project be informed about the project and that the community's consent be gained before the research begins. CER goes further, requiring that the "community or community representatives play an active role in the research design, implementation, and analysis" (Ross, 2010). (2)

Loyola faculty interested in CER are encouraged by the IRB and the Office of Community Engaged Learning, Teaching and Scholarship (OCELTS) to inquire with OCELTS for additional information on CER when submitting a proposal to IRB.

Points to consider when designing CER

  • How have community stakeholders been involved in the identification of this research topic and the design of this research project?
  • ŸDescribe the concrete benefits this research project will provide to collaborating community stakeholders.
  • Describe the process for seeking informed consent and knowing participation from not just individuals but also community partner organizations and larger collaborating groups. What steps have been taken to ensure that this process is free and equitable?
  • Describe the process and conditions under which collaborating community groups and individuals may terminate participation in the research project.
  • How will collaborating community stakeholders be involved in the actual process of conducting the research?
  • Describe any intercultural competencies needed to complete the project successfully. How will you ensure that all participants in the project possess these competencies?
  • How will power and privilege be navigated and negotiated throughout the project?
  • What level of access will collaborating community stakeholders have to data generated?
  • How will collaborating community stakeholders be allowed and encouraged to use data and research products?
  • How will the values and standards of collaborating community stakeholders be recognized and protected throughout the project?
  • What level of ownership will community stakeholders have of research products?

CER Resources and Best Practices

Ethics and Research in the Community-This is a good place to start; it includes a wealth of information about CER. 

Video perspective of community residents on CER

Resource manual for researchers

ŸReview Criteria and Rating Scale for Community-Based Participatory Research

Materials published by the Centre for Community Based Research

ŸCommunity Engagement Framework for Peer Review Guidance

The Lindy Boggs National Center for Community Literacy

The Jesuit Social Research Institute

Clearing House for the Scholarship of Engagement
The Clearing house for the Scholarship of Engagement provides external peer review and evaluation of faculty’s scholarship of engagement as well as consultation, training, and technical assistance to campuses who are seeking to develop or strengthen systems in support of the scholarship of engagement. In addition, it conducts forums, programs, and regional conferences on topics related to the scholarship of engagement. Finally, it administers a faculty mentoring program with opportunities for less experienced faculty to learn from the outreach experiences of more seasoned outreach scholars. 

Engaged Scholarship Publication Outlets
A list maintained by Campus Compact of the Mountain West of journals that accept community-engaged work.


1. Powers, M. & Faden, R. R.  (Eds.). (2006). Social justice: The moral foundations of public health and health policy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 

2. Ross, L. (2010). Human subjects protections in community-engaged research: A research ethics framework. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, (1), 5-17.