Our Principles and Protocols:
How and on Whose Behalf We Work

In line with the goals outlined in our mission statement, as engaged scholars, we share a central objective of developing a “shared analysis” between communities of scholarship and communities of practice.

The guidelines below outline the principles, protocols, and pathways towards building that shared analysis ethically. These guidelines are intended to define the “floor” for participation as researchers in ARC in two dimensions: 1) We expect individuals participating to abide by these guidelines in their individual research work that includes or incorporates data that emerges directly from community or organizational partners; 2) We will follow these guidelines in pursuing our collective work in partnership-based research.

An important caveat is that we recognize that some protocols (e.g., co-creating research questions) are aspirational, and may only be appropriate in certain circumstances, whereas the principles underlying them (e.g., accountability, transparency, sharing of resources, non-extractive relationship building) are non-negotiable. We expect good faith efforts to stay true to the principles and develop research processes in dialogue, with these guidelines shaping but not limiting what is possible and appropriate in every circumstance.

  • Principles of collaborative research development
    1. Research questions should, from the earliest stage, emerge from a process of dialogue between researcher(s) and community/movement partners.
    2. The process of research after definition of research questions must involve ongoing collaboration in all steps, such as research design, implementation, data collection, and so on.
    3. These guidelines themselves are subject to continual development in dialogue with community and movement partners — at this stage, they exist as a baseline to work from and will evolve as the group evolves.
    4. This also goes for individual projects: ARC members will review and revise this list with community/movement partners in new research efforts.
  • Principles of ethical processes
    1. Transparency — Researchers must be open with their goals, needs, constraints, and in particular the resources involved in a project (i.e. budgets, sources of funding) to all collaborators.
    2. Accountability — Researchers must justify their decision and actions to community partners, not making decisions unilaterally without consultation and keeping to agreements that have been made. Once a collaboration is established, accountability goes both ways, as researchers need also to feel that their input and agreements are respected and valued by partners.
    3. Do No Harm — We know that while trying to actually “do good” by pursuing impactful engaged research, we can inadvertently harm those we are seeking to support. We must think through the impacts of our work at every stage and avoid harmful impacts (reputational, financial, political) to the best of our ability.
    4. Respecting alliances — When working with collaborative groups (like networks, alliances, coalitions), researchers must be careful to not pick off and work with individuals in a way that sidelines or subverts the group’s decisions and values.
    5. Respecting other knowledges/analyses — Since our goal is to build shared analysis we must be open to and accepting of knowledges and analysis that are not our own, and commit to taking these seriously even when our analysis differs.
    6. A commitment to long-term and relationship building — As much as possible, being “in it for the long haul,” building projects, authentic relationships, and power over time.
  • Principles of “resourcing”
    1. Remuneration of partners for time and expertise (honorariums), and providing for travel and other costs associated with the research process.
    2. Providing valuable work to partners (e.g., grant writing, research on requested topics, digging fence post holes on the farm, etc.); build capacity in all areas of expertise – in both research and partner communities – such that interdependence cultivates equity.
    3. Strive to avoid competition with community partners in fundraising: seek funding from sources not available to community groups, leverage existing resources; include everyone in budgeting issues (beyond honorariums). 
  • Principles involving data
    1. Interpretation should be dialogical, with the goal of reaching shared analysis
    2. Write-ups must be done with time/space for feedback from partners; no sharing of stories without permission; how data will be written up (by what process/timeline) should be discussed early on in research design. Wherever possible, co-authorship including community partners should be prioritized.
    3. Dissemination should be planned to be broad (i.e., beyond academic circles), include (on at least equal footing) public audiences, and attentive to potential (negative) impacts (see “do no harm” principle). When the research is presented, partners will be fully credited for their integral role, and not merely as subjects or supporters, as appropriate.
  • Work on institutions
    1. We know that this approach to research is still not widely accepted within academic and other institutions, and can be more difficult to pursue. Therefore we commit to using our positions within those institutions to move their internal values and support structures (e.g., funding, tenure decisions) towards this form of research.
    2. Our ambitious and ultimate goal is to move from simply lowering disincentives to engaged research, to engendering systemic change in “research” as a whole
    3. We also want to acknowledge that academia and other research institutions are not homogeneous, and individuals within them vary in power and privilege, according to (among other factors) race, gender, class, and positional status. Because some of us have more precarious positions in our respective institutions, we thus invite the less precarious to leverage their privilege for their colleagues as well as community partners.