How Can We Ensure Co-Construction Through All Phases of the Research Process?

Big Question: How matters – How can we ensure co-construction through all phases of the research process?

Time Commitment: 30 – 45 minutes

Question for Reflection:

As you consider research you’ve heard about or read regarding the “wicked problem” you identified, consider: “would participants consider what is being put out as true to their experience?”

Why This Matters:

Chicago Beyond created Why am I always being researched?, a guidebook for community organizations, researchers, and funders focused on research equity. 

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“Right or wrong, research can drive decisions. If we do not address the power dynamic in the creation of research, at best, we are driving decision-making from partial truths. At worst, we are generating inaccurate information that ultimately does more harm than good in our communities. This is why we must care about how research is created.” 

Diving In: How does research happen?

Listen: In this interview, Liz Dozier, the Executive Director of Chicago Beyond states, “If research drives decision-making, we have to think about how it happens.” Listen to the radio interview (11 min, 12 seconds): Chicago Beyonds creates toolkit to address research bias.

Review: This guidebook describes seven inequities held in place by power and seven opportunities for change. 

*This guidebook provides a wealth of resources, recommended steps, and useful questions to ask. Depending on your time, you may choose to engage at different levels of depth.

AccessCould we be missing out on community wisdom because conversations about research are happening without community meaningfully present at the table?
InformationCan we effectively partner to get to the full truth if information about research options, methods, inputs, costs, benefits, and risks are not shared?
ValidityCould we be accepting partial truths as the full picture, because we are not valuing community organizations and community members as valid experts?
OwnershipAre we getting incomplete answers by valuing research processes that take from, rather than build up, community ownership?
ValueWhat value is generated, for whom, and at what cost?
AccountabilityAre we holding funders and researchers accountable if research designs create harm or do not work?
AuthorshipWhose voice is shaping the narrative and is the community fully represented?

Question for Reflection:

After reading through the seven areas of inequity and associated questions, jot down the one (or maybe two) that resonated with you the most. Why? If you were to start planning a community-based research project about the “wicked problem” you identified, what specific steps could you take in the planning process to address the inequity? 

Page Completion – Outcomes:

Now that you have completed this page and the readings, videos, and activities within it, you should have strengthened your understanding of: 

  • How researcher bias and power dynamics shape the research process and can risk harm.
  • Different areas of inequity in the research process and useful questions and steps to take in order to pursue more ethical research to work for more just, inclusive sustainable communities. 

Seeking Contributions:

What are your favorite examples of participatory research? We would love to share great examples with the community of practice!

Please share feedback on this page by taking this 5-question survey. Thank you!

Next: How can we work to ensure ethical community-campus partnerships in local and global experiential education?

Citation for this page: Reynolds, N. (2020). How can we ensure co-construction through all phases of the research process? In E. Hartman (Ed.). Interdependence: Global Solidarity and Local Actions. The Community-based Global Learning Collaborative. Retrieved from


Chicago Beyond. (n.d.). Why Am I Always Being Researched? Retrieved May 12, 2020, from

Podcasts and pieces cited within the podcasts:

NPR (Producer). (2019, June 13). Chicago Beyond Creates Toolkit To Address Research Bias [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from