2 thoughts on “Are We Giving Back Enough? Thoughts on Fair Exchange and Academic Public Engagement

  1. William – I think you raise some great points…glad to see you discuss CBPR. However, I think the very title of your post frames things in a way that takes you away from the core of your argument. The “giving back” framework grows out of a charity mindset. You’re saying that we as researchers have in excess and that we must “give back” to communities (marginalized and others)…almost as if it’s a tax on our work. Perhaps a better way to frame it is, “Are we on equal playing fields?” The kids that I work with know many things that I do not know. It’s through my work with them that I can try to understand life from their perspective. They are “giving back” to me as (hopefully) I’m giving back to them. So, let’s think of it as a level playing field…not a “giving back/charity” framework.

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  2. Excellent post! I agree with a number of your points about this hierarchy and the assumptions we as researchers make about how we gain our valuable information.

    Recently I had to review a community consult and the data being used to support activist initiatives. This data was conducted by members of a marginalised trans* community for members in Melbourne, a wonderful thing indeed! The data from this consult was fantastic,but there was a glaring major issue. There was no research design or method, no ethics, no record of consent, nothing. Apparently it had been done via a survey on surveymonkey.com that was no longer accessible. The statistics from this data set were calculated incorrectly and hadn’t accounted for variables.

    When I had to report my findings to the organisation I was volunteering for, they were devastated to learn that they could not, in their newly found incorporated status, legally use the research. Everything had to be scrapped because there were so many inconsistencies and errors that it could have severely damaged their reputation.

    And so even though they engaged with the power to use that information in a positive way, it got shut down due to research ethics. So I think along with the fair exchange of information, we also need to find support and encourage those within marginalised communities to gain the skills necessary or encourage more academics to provide pro-bono consultation to help them with their research.

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