Community-Engaged Research

Community-Engaged Research (CEnR) refers to a cooperative approach to research that includes partnerships and collaboration among researchers and community organizations and agencies. This differs from the traditional approach where researchers are responsible for the design, conduct and reporting of the research and the community member’s participation is only as a human subject. Participation of community members in the research process varies from modest input to full participation in all aspects of the research design, conduct and reporting.

Building Relationships

One example of CEnR is the program Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research, sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). In this program, researchers partner with education agencies and local districts to identify issues and carry out research projects with the goal of making changes that will improve the success of school communities.

A key element of community-engaged research is open communication between the researchers and community stakeholders. Engaging the community in the research process can foster a relationship of trust between the community and the researchers, help identify issues relevant to the community, and promote participation in studies. Human research with community engagement does pose additional ethical issues with respect to the community that should be considered by researchers and the IRB. CITI Program training is available for CEnR and recommended for all research personnel involved in a CEnR project.

Defining Communities

A community is a group of people linked by social ties who share common perspectives or interests, and may also share a geographical location (Harvard Catalyst). Examples of characteristics that community members might share:

  • Culture or ethnic heritage
  • Language
  • School district
  • Age group
  • Experiences, special interests or attributes (e.g. asthma sufferers, immigrants)

Training & Resources

Training for Researchers

KU HRPP offers Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) training modules specific to CEnR. They are listed in the supplemental modules of the Social & Behavioral Research course option:

  • Introduction to Community Engaged Research (CEnR)
  • Introduction to Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR)
  • Ethical and Practical Considerations in Community-Engaged Research (CEnR)

Other supplemental modules to the Social & Behavioral Research course that may be relevant to research personnel using a CEnR approach include:

  • Cultural Competence in Research
  • Research with Prisoners
  • Research with Children
  • Research in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools
  • Research Involving Workers/Employees

To enroll in one or more of the supplemental modules:

  1. Log into CITI with your KU online ID.
  2. If you have not taken the Social & Behavioral Research course:
    1. Choose “Add a Course.” This is the first option under “Learner Tools for University of Kansas – Lawrence” at the bottom of the page.
    2. Select the Social Behavioral Research course under Question 1 and choose the supplemental modules of your interest. All supplemental modules will be listed below the required modules for the course.
    3. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the screen and click “Submit” to complete your registration.
  3. If you have already taken the Social Behavioral Research course, you will see it listed under “Courses Completed” with an option to “Review the Course.”
    1. Choose to review the Social & Behavioral Research course.
    2. Select the supplemental modules of your interest. All supplemental modules will be listed below the required modules.
    3. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the screen and click “Submit” to complete your registration.

All CITI courses are available for KU students, faculty, staff and affiliates with a KU online ID. For assistance accessing CITI Program training modules, please consult KU’s login instructions or email

Training for Community Members

In accordance with federal regulations, community members who will be engaged in the human subjects research portion of the project must have appropriate human subjects ethics training. Contact an IRB staff member at to discuss training options for community members who will obtain:

  • Data about the subjects of the research through intervention or interaction with them.
  • Identifiable private information about the subjects of the research.
  • Informed consent of human subjects for the research.

Additional Resources


Human Research Protection Program | 785-864-7385

Alyssa Haase
HRPP Administrator

Susan MacNally
Research Integrity Director