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Challenges in conducting community-driven research created by differing ways of talking and thinking about science: a researcher’s perspective. Open Access


Author or creator
Colquhoun, A.
Geary, J.
Goodman, K.J.
Additional contributors
Helicobacter pylori
circumpolar regions
Aboriginal health
Type of item
Journal Article (Published)
Increasingly, health scientists are becoming aware that research collaborations that include community partnerships can be an effective way to broaden the scope and enhance the impact of research aimed at improving public health. Such collaborations extend the reach of academic scientists by integrating a variety of perspectives and thus strengthening the applicability of the research. Communication challenges can arise, however, when attempting to address specific research questions in these collaborations. In particular, inconsistencies can exist between scientists and community members in the use and interpretation of words and other language features, particularly when conducting research with a biomedical component. Additional challenges arise from differing perceptions of the investigative process. There may be divergent perceptions about how research questions should and can be answered, and in expectations about requirements of research institutions and research timelines. From these differences, misunderstandings can occur about how the results will ultimately impact the community. These communication issues are particularly challenging when scientists and community members are from different ethnic and linguistic backgrounds that may widen the gap between ways of talking and thinking about science, further complicating the interactions and exchanges that are essential for effective joint research efforts. Community-driven research that aims to describe the burden of disease associated with Helicobacter pylori infection is currently underway in northern Aboriginal communities located in the Yukon and Northwest Territories, Canada, with the goal of identifying effective public health strategies for reducing health risks from this infection. This research links community representatives, faculty from various disciplines at the University of Alberta, as well as territorial health care practitioners and officials. This highly collaborative work will be used to illustrate, from a researcher’s perspective, some of the challenges of conducting public health research in teams comprising members with varying backgrounds. The consequences of these challenges will be outlined, and potential solutions will be offered.
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Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 3.0 Unported

Citation for previous publication
Colquhoun A, Geary J, Goodman KJ. Challenges in conducting community-driven research created by differing ways of talking and thinking about science: a researcher’s perspective. International Journal of Circumpolar Health. 2013; 72 (s1):864-70.
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