2023 RTP - A model for training and supporting community members as researchers
Applications open: 8/07/2022
Applications close: 18/08/2022
About this scholarship
The value of consumer and community involvement in research to improve the relevance, quality, and translation of research findings for priority populations is undisputed and well documented. Benefits for community members involved as researchers include opportunities to apply specialist skills and knowledge to a problem affecting their community, or to build or enhance research skills and expand professional networks. Feelings of empowerment and increased self-esteem have also been documented among marginalised populations who may have few opportunities to voice their needs and challenges.
Levels of community involvement vary and range from information-giving, education and consultation, through to co-designing, collaboration and shared leadership. Appropriate remuneration for community members in research roles, relationship-building and trust as well as training and support in research methods are critical factors for meaningful involvement of community members in research. Many guidelines and frameworks for community and consumer involvement exist however more work needs to be done to build capacity outside of academia so that those organisations and individuals closest to the populations being studied are better equipped to collect data in a way that is scientifically rigorous.
Paid roles for community members involved in research projects as researchers have included peer researchers, community researchers, community navigators and lived experience consultants. Those with lived experience can offer valuable ‘insider’ information that help academics design research methods and data collection processes that are culturally sensitive and acknowledge the needs and experiences of target populations. Others community researchers may have dual roles as members of priority populations who utilise services, or providers who deliver services to priority populations, or community members who share characteristics or networks in common with priority populations. These include demographic characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity, languages spoken, similar occupation or migration experience, and such commonalities may facilitate recruitment of study participants. In some instances, as members of priority populations, community members experience health and other challenges including stigma and discrimination. Their ability to participate in research is therefore dynamic and may be subject to competing priorities.
This study draws on the experiences of Curtin University School of Population Health researchers who have conducted community and peer-based research and have employed peer researchers or community researchers in a variety of public health and health promotion projects related to sex work, harm reduction, prevention of blood borne viruses, homelessness, youth health, migrant health, Indigenous health, LGBTIQA+ community health.
The overall aim of this study is to develop a model for effectively training and supporting community members as researchers in a range of settings. The project will also explore innovative ways of simplifying data collection tools and processes while assuring high quality research and meeting ethical requirements for informed consent. The safety of researchers and study participants will be a primary focus, including ethical considerations related to confidentiality and disclosure.
It is anticipated that the study outputs will guide future community and peer research activities, including identifying what is required to build research capacity (skills and knowledge) of non-academic audiences. While it is not expected that it will be possible to develop one universal model for training and supporting community members as researchers in all settings, it is anticipated that the research will identify common challenges and enablers and identify risk mitigation strategies that can assist in recruiting and retaining individuals in community research roles, inside or outside of the academic setting, in partnership with University-based academics.
- Future Students
- Faculty of Health Sciences
- Higher Degree by Research
- Australian Citizen
- Australian Permanent Resident
- New Zealand Citizen
- Permanent Humanitarian Visa
- Merit Based
The annual scholarship package (stipend and tuition fees) is approx. $60,000 - $70,000 p.a.
Successful HDR applicants for admission will receive a 100% fee offset for up to 4 years, stipend scholarships, valued at $28,854 p.a. for up to a maximum of 3.5 years, are determined via a competitive selection process. Applicants will be notified of the scholarship outcome in November 2022.
For detailed information, visit: Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships | Curtin University, Perth, Australia.
All applicable HDR courses
• A background in public health, health promotion, social or behavioural sciences.
• Interested in community facing, policy relevant research.
• Have experience or interests in mixed methods research.
• Strong project management skills.
• Strong verbal communication and interpersonal skills.
• Ability to work independently and as part of a team.
• Live in Western Australia with the ability to travel intra and interstate COVID-19 permitting.
If this project excites you, and your research skills and experience are a good fit for this specific project, you should contact the Project Lead (listed below in the enquires section) via the Expression of Interest (EOI) form. ahead of the closing date.
Eligible to enrol in a Higher Degree by Research Course at Curtin University by March 2023
To enquire about this project opportunity that includes a scholarship application, contact the Project lead, Dr Roanna Lobo via the EOI form above.