New England Environmental Justice Research Network (EJRN)
Code of Ethics & Guiding Principles for Conducting Community-based Participatory Research
Purpose of Collaboration
Environmental justice university researchers and community organizations/groups who agree to work on projects of mutual benefit together agree to help document and support knowledge held by environmental justice communities in forms that can influence environmental policy and build community capacity to use data for advocacy. In addition, collaboration requires recognition that roles and responsibilities differ among university faculty and community organizations/groups and is based on the principles of equity, empowerment, capacity building, and collective ownership of results.
Researchers and community organizations associated with the EJRN will adhere to the following guidelines for academic collaboration:
Data Collection, Ownership, and Distribution
- In all cases, all parties should seek to co-own data resulting from the project and where this is not possible, the community organization or group should have primary ownership.
- All collaborators must adhere to the guidelines set forth by the Institutional Review Board of the partnering institution, including participation in any necessary ethics training modules. The university collaborator(s) should assist community partner members with this process should it be necessary.
- Personally identifying data should be confidential and safely stored to only be accessed by project collaborators.
- Publication in journals and/or presentation of data at professional conferences should be agreed upon and reviewed by all participating collaborators. Nothing should be published nor otherwise disseminated without the agreement of everyone involved, and all collaborators should always have the option of being included in publications and presentations. It may help at the beginning of the study to identify point people representing each collaborating organization who might take responsibility for involving their staff/colleagues, and a process for review prior to submitting abstracts and or papers. Toward this end, university researchers must allow community partners final product review, especially if they have been mentioned in the report or study.
- Any requests for information generated by the research partnership (e.g., data or information) that come from outside sources should be discussed by all collaborators, except in the case of requests for information intended for public consumption such as brochures or statements of research purpose.
Considerations for the Working Relationship
- The community organization/group should conduct a periodic review of their working relationship with university collaborators to assess progress and make improvements and adjustments where necessary.
- Whenever possible, partnerships should increase the capacity of existing community groups, rather than replicating or replacing their work when it comes to community engagement and community trainings.
- When students participate in the research, they should be trained by the mentoring faculty member in the practice of community-based participatory research and should have sufficient familiarity with the community organization/group with which research is being conducted. The partners might consider jointly interviewing prospective students hoping to work on the study or project, or with the resulting data, to ensure that they understand the nature of the partnership and expectations re. communication of findings.