A framework for entry: PAR values and engagement strategies in community research

Main Article Content

Joanna Ochocka
Elin Moorlag
Rich Janzen


The purpose of this article is twofold: to explore the entry process in community-based research when researching sensitive topics; and to suggest a framework for entry that utilises the values of participatory action research (PAR). The article draws on a collaborative community-university research study that took place in the Waterloo and Toronto regions of Ontario, Canada, from 2005–2010. The article emphasises that community entry is not only about recruitment strategies for research participants or research access to community but it is also concerned with the ongoing engagement with communities during various stages of the research study. The indicator of success is a well established and trusted community-researcher relationship. This article first examines this broader understanding of entry, then looks at how community research entry can be shaped by an illustrative framework, or guide, that uses a combination of participatory action research (PAR) values and engagement strategies.

Key words: research entry, community engagement, participatory action research, mental health and cultural diversity

Article Details

Research articles (Refereed)
Author Biographies

Joanna Ochocka, Centre for Community Based Research

JOANNA OCHOCKA (Ph.D. Sociology) is Executive Director of the Centre for Community Based Research and adjunct faculty member in the Department of Sociology at University of Waterloo and in the MA and PhD program in Community Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. She was a recipient of Award for Teaching Excellence for the 2005 at Wilfrid Laurier University. Joanna’s research and action has focused on community mental health for people with serious mental health issues, on cultural diversity and immigration issues and on community supports for marginalized populations. She has directed a number of large-scale research studies including multiple partnerships. She is the author of 40 academic articles and co-author of the book: “Shifting the paradigm in community mental health.” Joanna is one of the leaders in the use of participatory action research approach and she practices community based research as a tool to mobilize people for social change. Currently, she leads the Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) on culture and mental health and International University-Community Partnership; Global Platform for Social Action Researchers (UCP-SARnet).

Elin Moorlag

Elin Moorlag, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and Senior Researcher at the Centre for Community Based Research.

Rich Janzen

Rich Janzen, Ph.D. Candidate at Community Psychology Program, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and Research Director at the Centre for Community Based Research.