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Knowledge Profiling in CBPR
Knowledge Profiling in Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR)
 
Many sources of equally valid knowledge and experience may be relevant to a research question within communities, industry and government, as well as academia. Much of this information is not usually included in an inventory of knowledge related to a research project. The concept of a knowledge profile (KP) is designed to systematise this initial stage in the participatory research process by identifying and integrating all relevant knowledge that, once assembled, can best address a research issue. The KP process is a systematic set of phases or steps that carry a collection of individuals concerned about an issue forward to the point where they become an organized, inclusive team with a clear, valid research question.
 
1. Creating the Research Space
 
CBPR teams are initially self-selected because of their interest or skill in a particular issue and their willingness to collaborate in seeking a solution. A facilitator emerges whose role is to help bring out the skills, experience and complementary knowledge of the partners and keep the process on course. Positive research relationships are established with recognition of mutual autonomy for all partners, and the commitment to collaboration among people from fields that are often incongruent. Indicators of the success of this phase include: active buy-in by all participants as evidenced by tangible commitment of time and resources; expansion of the team to fill knowledge and experiential gaps; shared enthusiasm about the potential for action / change with the evolving research project; acknowledgement of differing agendas; and open and honest discussions of initial research issues.
 
2. Articulating and Negotiating
 
The KP process provides all participants with an opportunity to learn new perspectives from one another. Thus the research process itself becomes an important outcome. Each partner’s knowledge and experience is identified through facilitated discussions and roundtables where everyone has the opportunity to speak to a topic. Indicators of success in this phase include the articulation of guiding principles; identifying a process for group facilitation; evolution of a learning partnership.
 
3. Identifying the Research Question
 
CBPR teams come together around a research issue that is important to the community – a recognised need for more information that has not yet been focused into a research question or questions. Indicators of success in Phase 3 include: articulation of the range of associated knowledge and perspectives around the table, and identification of the common research issue, emergence of the research question(s), identification of strengths and any further gaps in the available knowledge/expertise around the table.
 
4. Creating the Resource Inventory
 
The KP resource inventory expands the sources of assets to include the knowledge and experience of partners with diverse backgrounds (i.e. university, industry, or government) but a common interest in the evolving research issue. As a resource inventory develops it provides the team with a context in which to design the project. The end result of Phase 4 is a profile of existing resources and knowledge, a list of additional resources and knowledge to be added, and an initial team that is working in a safe and energetic space, committed to learning together.
 
The outcomes of a successful KP include: an inventory of existing and required resources, a well established research team operating in an ethical and safe research space, and articulation of an appropriate research question.
 
For further information see: Edwards, K. and Gibson, N. (2008) Knowledge profiling as emergent theory in CBPR. Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action. 2(1): 73-79.