Breathing life into theory: Illustrations of community-based research – Hallmarks, functions and phases

Joanna Ochocka
Rich Janzen


There is a growing interest in the area of research that engages communities. Increasingly, this community-based research (CBR) approach to research is being seen as a catalyst for social innovation, for public policy improvements, for solving complex community issues, and for promoting democracy in which local knowledge is valued in building local solutions. This emerging interest in engaging communities in research (both within and outside academia) brings both successes and challenges.

The purpose of this article is to summarise the theory underlying community-based research and to illustrate that theory with Canadian case examples of research studies conducted by the Centre for Community Based Research (CCBR). The article begins by reviewing the hallmarks, functions and implementation phases of community-based research, which are rooted in academic tradition. Three case examples are presented to illustrate the main hallmarks of CBR. The intention is to clarify community-based research by reflecting on iterative theory through practice and practice through theory.

Keywords: community-based research, community-university research, knowledge production, knowledge mobilisation, community mobilisation, research for society

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