Transformative Knowledge Transfer Through Empowering and Paying Community Researchers

Stephen Garnett, Gabriel Crowley, Hmalan Hunter-Xenie, W KOZANAYI, B SITHOLE, C PALMER, R SOUTHGATE, Kerstin Zander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Environmental research is often conducted independently of the community in which the environment is situated, with transfer of results into policy and on-ground action occurring independently of the community's interests or aspirations. Increasingly the need for greater community involvement in the research process has been recognized. For community members, however, such engagement usually involves trade-offs. While it is often assumed that community members should participate voluntarily because they will gain from the research, any benefits from knowledge, understanding and a capacity to influence the research have to be offset against time and potential loss of unremunerated intellectual property. We argue, using case studies from tropical Australia and Africa, that a more effective means of engagement and knowledge transfer is training and remuneration of community members as coresearchers. This engagement is much more than payment for labor - it is investment in local intellectual property and requires researcher humility, power-sharing and recognition that access to research funding provides no moral or intellectual authority. Further, we argue that, for effective adoption of research results, community members need to be part of negotiated agreements on the initial nature of the research to ensure it answers questions of genuine local relevance and that local researchers have the capacity to place locally conducted research into a wider context. We argue that immediate rewards for involvement not only secure engagement but, where appropriate, are likely to lead to effective implementation of research results, enhanced local capacity and greater equity in intellectual power-sharing. � 2009 by The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-577
Number of pages7
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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