Engaging communities in research agenda-settings

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Myron Yovannidis


Applying Collaborative Partnerships Series

Watch the catch-up webinar below:

This Zoom workshop is part of the Applying Collaborative Partnerships Series.

Community engagement and participation are big buzzwords in health research these days. But communities, especially those considered disadvantaged and marginalised, rarely have a say in the agendas and priorities of the very health research projects that aim to help them. Typically, these agendas are defined by a funding call or by researchers well before community members are engaged. And even where their engagement occurs, without attention to power dynamics, it can lead to tokenism: presence without voice and voice without influence.

To help address this issue, Dr Bridget Pratt developed an ethical toolkit for Sharing Power with Communities in Priority-Setting for Health Research Projects. The toolkit aims to help academic researchers and community partners design priority-setting processes that will make the health needs and knowledge of communities, particularly those considered disadvantaged and marginalised, more visible in health research projects’ topics and questions. It is a reflective project planning aid for use before priority-setting is undertaken for a health research project. This webinar introduces the toolkit through a conversation between Bridget and Siew Fang.


Dr Bridget Pratt is an ethics researcher at the School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne (Australia). She is also a Visiting Professor at the Julius Centre for Global Health at Utrecht University (Netherlands). Bridget’s research interests include the ethics of global research and health systems research, with a focus on social and global justice. Her work provides researchers and funders with ethical guidance about how to design grants programs and research projects in order to help improve healthcare and systems for those considered disadvantaged or marginalized. Bridget's current research focuses on community engagement in research agenda-setting. She is developing ethical guidance on how to meaningfully engage and partner with communities that experience marginalisation when setting research agendas.


Dr Siew Fang Law is a Senior Lecturer and Engagement Lead at the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education. Bringing with her to this role is her interdisciplinary academic background in peace psychology, conflict transformation and community development. She was an Associate Professor and academic course chair of the Master of International Community Development at Victoria University for over 10 years. She was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Learning and Teaching Citation. She wrote and published extensively on knowledge, power and epistemologies international journals; edited book entitled Methodologies in Peace Psychology. Siew Fang was appointed as the Extraordinaires Professor of the University of South Africa, Honorary Fellow of the Western Sydney University, Editorial Board member of APA’s Journal of Peace Psychology and Springers Peace Psychology Book Series, and non-executive director of non-profit organisations.