Journal Article

Collaboration Between Community Advocates and Academic Researchers: Scientific Advocacy or Political Research?

Roland Stahl and Corey Shdaimah

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 38, issue 8, pages 1610-1629
Published in print December 2008 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online July 2007 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcm069
Collaboration Between Community Advocates and Academic Researchers: Scientific Advocacy or Political Research?

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There is a growing interest on the part of community groups, academics and funders in developing collaborative research projects between researchers and community groups. The authors of this paper collaborated with a community-based advocacy group on a study that focused on home repair problems faced by low-income homeowners in Philadelphia, PA (the ‘Home Repair Study’). In this article, we provide a critical analysis of the collaborative process between social work advocates and academic social work researchers based on participatory observation and in-depth interviews with those advocates who participated directly in the planning and implementation of the Home Repair Study. Similar to accounts provided in previously published articles, our findings suggest that such collaborations will frequently encounter tensions resulting from the different roles that researchers and community-based advocates fulfil in the research field and in the political arena. However, we argue that these tensions are healthy; if managed effectively, they contribute to more comprehensive research and more effective policy advocacy.

Keywords: collaborative research; participatory action research; community advocacy; public policy

Journal Article.  8797 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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