‘Come Back at Us’: Reflections on Researcher-Community Partnerships during a Post-Oil Spill Gulf Coast Resilience Study
1.1. Purpose of the Manuscript
1.2. Overview of Our Project
1.3. Our University-Community Partnerships
1.4. Methods of Critical Reflection: Interviewing Our Community Partners
2. Results and Discussion
2.1. Trust and Relationship-Building
2.2. Working Together: Communication, Logistics, and Information Sharing
2.3. Benefits to Community Partners and Residents
2.4. Community Partners: Resources, Commitments, Burdens
“But this is something that, it’s not unusual for us. I mean, we work a lot of programs in the past. And we’re able to juggle with that…Everyone wear different hats, many hats. So even though we bill 40 h a week, that’s not how many hours we work in a week. Sometimes we work way beyond that. This is a lot of hours to put in [for survey recruitment and conducting interviews].”
2.5. Language, Vocabulary, and Literacy as Research Equity Issues
2.6. Disseminating Research Results to the Community
2.7. Strengths and Limitations of This Study
“...the promise [of feminist community research] lies in the ongoing and continual learning from previous studies about what works better in what contexts, including what compromises might be made (and what cannot be compromised), with what consequences and for whom, in order to attain more equal forms of reflexive community collaboration. More collaborative and equitable conditions of knowledge creation...have the potential to...contribute to social change by revealing the consequences of inequality and exploring alternative approaches for ameliorating or at least lessening them...The commitment to detailing failings as well as accomplishments provide[s] instructive examples for other researchers.”(232–233)
Conflicts of Interest
- Please characterize your role in your organization.
- What has been your general involvement/capacity/experience with the project?
- What are your overall impressions of the project, team, and the work that has been done?
- Anything about your action with the project that could have been done differently? Anything less than ideal/need improving/need changing?
- What lessons learned would you like future collaborators to bring to the table?
- We are planning to present data we collected from our in-person survey to your community. What is the best way to share the data with the community? What times of year? What days of the week?
- Why did you say yes to the collaboration?
- Who made that decision?
- What challenges were considered?
- What did your organization gain through this collaboration?
- How was this experience for you?
- What did your community or clients get from the collaboration?
- What challenges did you encounter?
- (Elicit information about challenges preparing to host the survey, during the research, or afterwards.)
- Do you have any memorable stories or observations or interactions with researchers that you’d like to share?
- What changes could researchers make going forward?
- What should researchers coming here know about your community and your work?
- What do you hope that researchers who worked here know now?
- What questions about the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill do you have?
- What questions persist for your community?
- In your opinion, what would be the best way to share information gained through this research?
- Is there anything else you’d like to share?
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No dyads or family sets were allowed in the sample, therefore each respondent is considered independent regardless of whether recruited via probability or word-of-mouth sampling. Because we worked in small, relatively homogeneous communities, any potential error is likely equal and equivalent across participants regardless of the sampling procedure.
|Finding from Community Partner Interviews||Significance for Community-Based Disaster Research|
|Communities may “feel forgotten,” especially after a disaster with long-term effects such as a major oil spill. A sense of being remembered by participating in research may increase a community’s openness to accepting researchers.||Post-disaster communities that experience impacts for years may be more open to research and to researchers from outside the community than in other contexts. However, when designing projects in post-disaster communities, it is important to ascertain how findings and partnerships could be most valuable to community members who may be experiencing “research fatigue.”|
|Local media (such as newspapers) and community networks are valued resources for the flow of information.||Locally-specific, offline media or word-of-mouth may be amongst the most effective means of disseminating research findings to local communities or recruiting participants, especially in rural post-disaster communities.|
|Community partner organizations may be able to use disaster research results to bring attention to their communities, develop programs, or seek funding.||Even years after a disaster, community organizations may have a great need for information. Researchers should consult with community partners when developing projects in order to ensure the greatest value to partners and communities.|
|Language and vocabulary may be a barrier to research participation for some community members.||In the planning stages, it is important for researchers to consult with local community partners to limit use of jargon in the survey instrument, especially when working in immigrant communities where English is a second language.|
|Participating in research focused on disaster impacts and preparedness may inspire residents in disaster-vulnerable communities to think more deeply about preparing for future disasters.||Even though participating in disaster research can be a time burden for community members, it can also present an opportunity to set aside the time to think about disaster experience and preparation.|
|Familiar faces and settings build trust.||Selecting research sites that are familiar public venues ensures that participants have the opportunity to verify researcher intentions with trusted community members. Random sampling may get community members “in the door” and acquainted with community partners’ resources for the first time.|
|Communication, rapport, and interpersonal interactions between researchers and participants are key.||In the Gulf South, friendliness is more than routine: taking time to connect and listen builds trust. It is important to fully describe the aims and methods of the study to participants and community partners and to teach data collectors about the area’s disaster history.|
|Partners serving communities recovering from disaster may be optimistic about the power of research.||As researchers approach partner organizations, ethical considerations should include a frank conversation about the potential benefits of the research agenda to the community—and name elements and external factors that may prevent those benefits from taking place.|
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Lesen, A.E.; Tucker, C.; Olson, M.G.; Ferreira, R.J. ‘Come Back at Us’: Reflections on Researcher-Community Partnerships during a Post-Oil Spill Gulf Coast Resilience Study. Soc. Sci. 2019, 8, 8. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8010008
Lesen AE, Tucker C, Olson MG, Ferreira RJ. ‘Come Back at Us’: Reflections on Researcher-Community Partnerships during a Post-Oil Spill Gulf Coast Resilience Study. Social Sciences. 2019; 8(1):8. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8010008Chicago/Turabian Style
Lesen, Amy E., Chloe Tucker, M. G. Olson, and Regardt J. Ferreira. 2019. "‘Come Back at Us’: Reflections on Researcher-Community Partnerships during a Post-Oil Spill Gulf Coast Resilience Study" Social Sciences 8, no. 1: 8. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8010008