CBR: What and Why

What is CBR

Community-based research is research that is conducted with and for, not on, members of a community. CBR differs from traditional academic research because it includes community members throughout the research process –from formulating the research problem, to the collection of data and dissemination of results – in a collaborative process. CBR finds its research questions in the needs of communities. and is oriented towards social change. Intensity of community participation can vary in practice, depending on the time and resources available, but CBR acknowledges stakeholders as co-creators of knowledge.


Engaged cooperation between students, teachers and societal partners results in research and teaching that matters. More relevant questions are asked, and new materials are generated in addressing problems that matter to people in (local) society.

CBR builds on multiple traditions of engaged scholarship – from the utilitarian tradition of action research in the social sciences to the ‘science shop movement’ and emancipatory scholarship in the fields of gender and post-colonial studies. These traditions have renewed appeal in the 21st century, when budget cuts and questions about the societal relevance of research and teaching have stimulated universities around the world to re-think their roles. CBR is a means of connecting academia to society, building a civic university, and democratising the knowledge needed in a just and inclusive society.