Community-based Research Project Guidelines

The Cultural Studies program permits a wide range of social science and humanities research approaches that can be employed in the service of social justice or activist research. Such research is normally written up in the form of a PhD thesis, MA thesis or Research Paper.

The CBR project option is specifically designed to support those students who wish to undertake research that is designed and conducted in collaboration with a defined community. It recognizes that such research demands complex ethical, logistical, and financial resources that go beyond traditional researcher-driven approaches. At the heart of CBR projects is the notion that the scope and terms of the research project are determined in consultation with the community. Given the time it takes to establish community connections, students who anticipate undertaking a CBR project should normally possess the connections they need before embarking on a CBR project, or should draw on the connections already established by their supervisor.

CBR Supervisory Committees

Students taking the CBR project option are advised to include a community representative as an additional member of their supervisory committee. If payment is required, students must consult with the director beforehand.

Elements of the CBR Project

A CBR project normally begins with a consultation phase in which the student works with the community to define the terms and scope of the research project. Formal research ethics clearance is not usually required before this consultation process begins, but students are advised to seek the guidance of their supervisor or the Unit Research Ethics Board before the consultation phase so as to be aware of any ethical issues that they will be facing during this consultation process. Normally, the project proposal should report on the outcome of this consultation process and should define the scope and terms of the proposed research that has been agreed to in consultation with the community.

CBR Research Methods/Approaches

CBR projects may draw on a range of humanities, social science, and Research Creation methods/approaches as appropriate to the scope and terms of the project defined in consultation with the community.


In recognition of the additional costs that CBR projects frequently require to maintain communications with the community in question, or to conduct change-oriented projects with the community, the program will make available a sum of money, to be determined annually by the director, to support such projects. Funds are allocated through a competitive application process. Travel expenses that are normally covered by the Graduate Dean’s Doctoral Field Research grant may not be covered in this way.

Elements of the Final Submission

All CBR projects must produce a written analytical-theoretical text as part of the project. The ratio between the written analytical-theoretical text and the other components of the project is determined in consultation with the supervisory committee. However, all elements of the project should be documented in some way, and this documentation included as part of the final project submission.