BOX 8–1 Research Definitions for Academia

The term population based means that the research focuses on groups or populations rather than individuals (Scrimshaw et al., 2001). The following definitions are used in this report:

  • Basic (or fundamental) research—research conducted for the purpose of advancing knowledge with little concern for any immediate or practical benefits.

  • Applied research—research designed to use the results of other research (e.g., basic research) to solve real-world problems. This type of research is also called translational research by the National Institutes of Health.

  • Evaluative research—the use of scientific research methods to assess the effectiveness of a program or initiative.

  • Descriptive research—research that attempts to discover facts or describe reality (Sullivan, 2001). This includes hypothesis-generating studies, epidemiological studies, observational studies, and surveys.

  • Community-based research—a collaborative approach to research that equitably involves community members, organizational representatives, and researchers in all aspects of the research process (Israel et al., 1998). This definition is similar to that used by Green and Mercer (2001) in defining participatory research as an approach that entails the involvement of all potential users of the research and other stakeholders in the formulation as well as the application of the research.

designed to evaluate the application and impact of new discoveries aimed at improving the health of a defined population, frequently involving the evaluation of interventions designed to promote health in community settings.

Community-based research is often divided into three distinct phases: formative, process, and summative (Valente, 2002). The length and nature of each of these stages vary depending on the type of project and type of study, but some general parameters can be described. Community-based research requires active partnerships between the community and researchers who may or may not be members of that community (Green et al., 2001). Partnerships and coalitions are necessary because no one agency has the resources, access, and trust relationships to address the wide range of community determinants of public health problems (Green et al., 2001). Clark (1999) states that research needs a three-way partnership of academia, public health practice groups, and community-based organizations. A key factor in establishing successful partnerships is trust (Nelson et al., 1999). Lack of trust and perceived lack of respect are frequently perceived to hinder effective community-based research (Israel et al., 1998).

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