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Community research guidelines set stage for 'real world' scholarship
Date:4/13/2010

Academia is sometimes viewed as an "ivory tower" environment with little connection to the real world, but new research from North Carolina State University should help academics striving to overcome that reputation. A new paper lays out guidelines that can be used to develop and implement partnerships between academics and local communities to foster research efforts that address social problems.

"The goal of the project was to take research out of our labs and offices and put it into the hands of communities in such a way that it could be used to address real world problems such as addressing substance-abuse treatment needs or improving student achievement," says Dr. Jocelyn Taliaferro, an associate professor of social work at NC State and co-author of the paper. "What we learned here could help other people develop similar programs in an array of disciplines."

At issue is a community-based research course developed out of necessity by Taliaferro and her co-author, Dr. Natalie Ames. Taliaferro and Ames were doing a series of research projects with community partners, and needed student involvement. However, they did not have sufficient resources to hire students as research assistants. Instead, they developed a program in which undergraduates served as research assistants and, in return, garnered hands-on experience and received elective academic credit. Ames is also an associate professor of social work at NC State.

The program was a success. "It helped our students connect research to practice. It helped them understand how the research process works. And it contributed substantially to the success of the research projects themselves," Taliaferro says. "We definitely plan on replicating the program again in the future, depending on what research projects are ongoing. And there's no reason why this wouldn't work in other disciplines."

But, while successful, the researchers also found that incorporating students into c
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Contact: Matt Shipman
matt_shipman@ncsu.edu
919-515-6386
North Carolina State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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