Community-Engaged Research

Community-engaged research is a process where research is conducted with the community to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes. Ohio University's Center for Campus & Community Engagement and Research Division are committed to supporting new and existing collaborations.

Featured media: "Community-Engaged Co-Investigators are a Valuable Resource in Dance Medicine and Science Research, Presentation from the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science Conference, 2021 Jeffrey A. (Jeff) Russell, PhD, AT, FIADMS Associate Professor, Athletic Training


Ohio University's Community-Engaged Research Initiative

This report details the university's efforts to build a Community-engaged Research Ecosystem.

Report [PDF]

What is community-engaged research?

Community-engaged research is a process where research is conducted with the community to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes.  Members of the research team are all equal partners throughout the research process. This is different than community-focused research where research is done on or in the community.

What is community engagement?

The Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching defines it as “the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, state/regional, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and research in a context of partnership and reciprocity.” 

What is research?

 A rigorous process which furthers knowledge.  This definition is meant to be inclusive of the contributions from all disciplines.

It is a process of systematic inquiry that entails collection of data; documentation of critical information; and analysis and interpretation of that data/information, in accordance with suitable methodologies set by specific professional fields and academic disciplines.

What is community?

Community is any small or large social unit that has something in common. A community may be based on geography, culture, religion, or identity. Community partners may include, but are not limited to: individuals and families; school systems; community coalitions; neighborhood associations; healthcare systems; non-profits; businesses and industry; and government agencies.

What are the principles of community engagement?

To help ensure success, there are seven principles of community engagement:

  1. Purposeful
  2. Collaboration and partnership
  3. Clear communication
  4. Inclusiveness
  5. Transparency
  6. Respect and commitment

Each play an integral role in building a strong, successful and sustainable relationship.


What are the different types of approaches to community research?

There are three different research approaches: Traditional, Community-Engaged, and Community-Based Participatory Research. Each vary their level of engagement with community partners and are designed differently.  Their contributions to science and understanding are important.

Aspects for each type of community research Traditional Community-Engaged Community-based Participatory Research
Research Objective Based on epidemiologic data & funding priorities Community input in identifying locally relevant issues Full participation of community in identifying issues of greatest importance
Study Design Design based entirely on scientific rigor and feasibility Researchers work with community to ensure study design is culturally acceptable Community intimately involved with study design
Recruitment & Retention Based on scientific issues & “best guesses” regarding how to beset reach the community members Researchers consult with community representatives on recruitment and retention strategies Community representatives provide guidance on recruitment and retention strategies and aid in recruitment
Instrument Design Instruments adopted/ adapted from other studies. Tested chiefly with psychometric analytic methods Instruments adopted from other studies & tested/adapted to fit local populations Instruments developed with community input and tested in similar populations
Data Collection Conducted by academic researchers or individuals with no connection to the community Community members involved in some aspects of data collection. Conducted by members of the community, to the extent possible, based on available skill sets. Focus on capacity building.
Analysis & Interpretation Academic researchers own the data, conduct analysis & interpret the findings Academic researchers share results of analysis with community members for comment and interpretation Data is shared; community members and academic researchers work together to interpret results
Dissemination Results published in peer-reviewed academic journals Results disseminated in community venues as well as peer-reviewed journals Community members assist academic researchers to identify appropriate venues to disseminate results (public meetings, radio, etc.) in a timely manner & community members are involved in dissemination. Results are also published in peer-reviewed journals

Source: Research Institute (OCTRI)…


What is the Community-Engagement Continuum?

The community-engagement continuum is a framework whereby the community and university contribute to teaching, research and service.  Community engagement is often at the intersection of teaching, research and service.  Understanding the levels of engagement can help determine levels of information shared; consultation, involvement, and collaboration required; and community need.

Community-Engagement Continuum [PDF]

Is there training available for community and faculty members to learn more about community-engaged research?

As part of the university’s initiative for community engagement, we now have four new CITI modules about community-engaged research. These modules are available to all Ohio University-affiliated researchers, including faculty, staff, students and collaborators.

Access to CITI Training Modules


What kind of training is available for my students who will be working with the community?

We recommend that all students working on community-engaged projects complete the four CITI modules about Community-Engaged Research.

Access to CITI Training Modules

How do I access the community-engaged research modules in CITI?

Training can be access through three different webpages – Ohio University Research Compliance, CITI Program, and Ohio University Community Research training tab. A step-by-step guide is available on the Community-engaged Research Training tab.

Access to CITI Training Modules

Are the four community-engaged research modules in CITI required?

We recommend that everyone completes all four modules, but modules can be completed individually.

Do the four community-engaged research modules replace the IRB-required CITI training for human subjects research?

No, these modules are not in lieu of IRB-required CITI training for human subjects research.

If I assign the community-engaged research modules in CITI as part of a class project, how can I see if the students complete them?

Students can download their CITI transcripts as proof of competing the modules. Alternatively, you can email with a list of the names of your students and we can confirm whether they have completed the modules.

Is there internal funding available to support community-engaged research?

Yes, community-engaged research projects are eligible for internal funding, including the the Ohio University Research Committee (OURC) and Baker Fund. Note, for FY20, OURC will has a priority call for community-engaged research projects 

Research Division internal awards

Is there external funding available to support community-engaged research?

Yes, Ohio University faculty, staff, and students should utilize PIVOT, a comprehensive database for identifying external funding sources.

To create an account, make sure you access PIVOT on campus (within the university IP range) and use your “” email address. Then you can access PIVOT from anywhere.

PIVOT database

Evaluation: What is program evaluation?

Program evaluation is a systematic process to determine or judge a program’s merit, worth, value and significance.

What is Program Evaluation? [PDF]

How are traditional research, community-engaged research, and evaluation different?

These terms are sometimes used interchangeably but they have real differences.

  • Traditional research is often led by the researcher. This means the focus, questions, methods and analysis, and dissemination are all completed by the researcher and their team.
  • Community-engaged research is generated by a mutually beneficial partnership where the focus, questions, methods and analysis, and dissemination are done in equal partnership between the researchers and the community.
  • Evaluation focuses on investigating the intrinsic value and impact of a program. There are components may be done in collaboration with the community, but evaluation focuses on understanding the usefulness of the program and is often done by someone external to the project.

Types and Uses of Evaluation
Difference between Traditional Research & CER Evaluation

What are common terms that are used amongst evaluators?

We have composed a list of some of the most common terms that are used by evaluators. Having some understanding of these terms will help you as you start to explore program evaluation.

Accountability – responsibility to ensure program effectiveness and meeting specific requirements (for example, services, legal, and fiscal requirements).

Accuracy – extent to which an evaluation is truthful or valid in what it says about a program.

Activities – actual events or action that take place as part of the program.

Aim – Purpose or anticipated outcome that guides the planned actions

Baseline data – the initial information collected about the condition or performance of the subjects prior to the implementation of a program.

Bias – a point of view that inhibits objectivity.

Efficacy – the performance of an intervention under ideal and controlled circumstances

Effectiveness – the performance of an intervention under 'real-world' conditions

Evaluation design – the logical model or conceptual framework used to arrive at conclusions about outcomes.

Evaluation plan – written document describing the overall approach or design that will be used to guide the evaluation plan.

Goal – ultimate reason for undertaking the project or program

Impact – positive or negative, desirable or undesirable, primary or secondary long-term effects produced by a program which can be direct, indirect, intended or unintended.

Indicator – pre-defined variable which helps identify direct or indirect differences in quality and/or quantity within a period of time.

Input – any resource that is put into a program to carry out an activity.

Logic model – a systematic and visual way to present the perceived relationships among the resources you have to operate the program, the activities you plan to do and changes or results you hope to see.

Objectives – planned areas of activity by which a program is to achieve its aims. These are often list of activities to be completed in a specific time period.

Objectivity – observations that do not involve personal feelings and are based on observable facts.

Stakeholders – agencies, organizations, institutions, groups and individuals who influence the program

Sustainability – process of continued existence of benefits from a program after the concrete implementation has been completed.

Target group/population – individuals or groups that a program is targeting with its intervention.

Theory of change – a set of assumptions about how and why desired change is most likely to occur as a result of the program based on past research or existing theories of behavior and development. Defines the evidence-based strategies or approaches proven to address a particular problem. Forms the basis for logic model planning

Types of evaluation:

  • Formative evaluation ensures that a program or program activity is feasible, appropriate, and acceptable before it is fully implemented. It is usually conducted when a new program or activity is being developed or when an existing one is being adapted or modified.
  • Process/implementation evaluation determines whether program activities have been implemented as intended.
  • Outcome/effectiveness evaluation measures program effects in the target population by assessing the progress in the outcomes or outcome objectives that the program is designed to achieve.
  • Impact evaluation assesses program effectiveness in achieving its ultimate goals.


What is a logic model, in terms of evaluation?

A logic model is a simplified picture of a program, initiative, project or intervention. It shows the logical relationships among the resources that are invested, the activities that take place and the benefits or changes that result. A logic model also shows the underlying rationale of the program or initiative and is the core resource during planning, implementation, and evaluation.

What is a Logic Model [PDF]

Sample Logic Model [Word]

Are there logic model templates?

Yes, here is a fillable logic model template that can be adapted for different projects. This is only one example of logic models. See Evaluation Resources.docx (FAQ below) for additional places for other logic model templates.

Logic Model Template [Excel]

What resources are there for evaluation?

We have compiled a list of different evaluation resources. This is not a comprehensive list, but it should definitely get you started. If you would like to share other useful resources, please email them to


There are several resources through the university, local community, and greater community to help initiate and implement community-engaged research.

If you know of other resources or would like to be identified as a resources, please contact


As part of the university’s initiative for community engagement, we now have four new CITI modules about community-engaged research. These modules are available to all Ohio University-affiliated researchers, including faculty, staff, students and collaborators. We recommend that everyone completes all four modules, but modules can be completed individually.

IMPORTANT: these modules are not in lieu of IRB-required CITI training for human subjects researchers.