Assessing excellence in community-based research: Lessons from research with Syrian refugee newcomers

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In this article, we critically reflect on three Syrian refugee research projects that were conducted simultaneously in Ontario, Canada, in order to: (1) strengthen the community system of support for refugee newcomers; (2) address social isolation of Syrian parents and seniors; and (3) promote wellbeing of Syrian youth. Our purpose in this article is to demonstrate a tangible way of assessing research projects which claim to be community-based, and in so doing gain a deeper understanding of how research can be a means of contributing to refugee newcomer resilience. Our assessment of the three studies was done through the reflective lens of the Community Based Research Excellence Tool (CBRET). CBRET is a reflective tool designed to assess the quality and impact of community-based research projects, considering the six domains of community-driven, participation, rigour, knowledge mobilisation, community mobilisation and societal impact. Our assessment produced four main lessons. The first two lessons point to the benefit of holistic emphasis on the six categories covered in the CBRET tool, and to adaptability in determining corresponding indicators when using CBRET. The last two lessons suggest that research can be pursued in such a way that reinforces the rescue story and promotes the safety of people who arrive as refugees. Our lessons suggest that both the findings and the process of research can be interventions towards social change. The diversity of the three case examples also demonstrates that these lessons can be applied to projects which focus on both individual-level and community-level outcomes.

Article Details

Research articles (Refereed)
Author Biographies

Rich Janzen

Centre for Community Based Research, Waterloo, Ontario

Joanna Ochocka

Centre for Community Based Research, Waterloo, Ontario