This semester I am co-instructing a community-based research course with the South Madison Farmers’ Market. Last week in the Midwest Knowledge Mobilization Network meeting, I was sharing with one of the event’s participants that we would not ask students to conduct a literature review as part of our research report. I explained that literature review can be done anytime and they already have the skills in doing that kind of work.
This participant was surprised, and thought that literature review should be part of the research activities. This participant went on to say that literature review helped inform researchers to”negotiate” the scope of “collaborative” research with their community partner.
I have been doing some thinking since then and thought there are a couple important points.
First, one of the main purposes of offering a community-based research course is to give opportunities to students to gain knowledge from community. Literature review will violate this spirit since students will “still” be gaining book or literature knowledge. Please read also what Lynet Uttal suggested about local theorizing.
Second, community-based research is an attempt to direct academic research that addresses real community problems. Community know the exact problems that need solving. Researchers do not negotiate on that. Rather, researchers work together with community in framing the problem to a research question that can produce actionable research findings. That is, research findings that can be used immediately by community to support their program planning.
I welcome your thoughts in this.