CBR Glossary

  • Analysis: A systematic approach to problem solving, in which researchers organize data to make sense of the results. This can proceed in a qualitative (thematic) or quantitative (number-crunching) manner. Analysis involves the identification of trends, themes, relationships and tendencies that support theoretical conclusions.
  • Anonymity: A condition in which an individual’s true identity is unknown, even to the researchers. Researchers ensure anonymity of participants by assigning them numbers or pseudonyms, and/or by not collecting any identifying information at all (e.g., name, address, date of birth, etc.). Maintaining the research participants’ anonymity is sometimes an ethical requirement of research projects. Some CBR projects guarantee anonymity, but the practice of confidentiality is more common.
  • Atlas TI: A software program that facilitates qualitative analysis.
  • Bias: The extent to which a measurement, sampling, or analytical method systematically underestimates or overestimates the true value of an attribute. E.g., words, sentence structure, attitudes and mannerisms may unfairly influence a respondent’s answer to a question.
  • Causal Relationship: An established relationship in which one variable causes a change in another.
  • CFP: Acronym for Call for Proposals. A call for proposals is a notice distributed by a funding agency announcing a grant or funding opportunity to which researchers can apply.
  • CIHR: Acronym for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. CIHR is the Government of Canada’s health research funding agency.
  • Coding: The process of identifying and sorting data into categories of meaningful issues, themes or theories (for qualitative research) or numerical categories (quantitative) in the analysis stage.
  • Collaboration: Researchers usually collaborate with others. A true collaboration provides benefits to everyone included. Collaboration typically involves planning together, sharing resources, and managing resources together. Collaboration is best when all groups understand each other’s point of view, communicate openly, and trust each other.
  • Confidentiality: A condition in which a participant’s identity is known to the researchers, but is not revealed to anyone not directly involved in the study. Confidentiality is ensured by assigning participants a number or pseudonym, removing any identifying information from study publications and other forms dissemination, storing data in a secure environment, and having all researchers and persons with access to the data swear an oath to not reveal the identity of participants. Confidentiality is often, but not necessarily, an ethical requirement in CBR projects.
  • Consent Forms: Consent forms are written documents introducing a research study, explaining its purposes and methods, and outlining the risks and benefits of participation. Consent forms must be presented to a potential participant and signed before that person can take part in the study. In some cases, consent forms are read out loud and consent is given verbally.
  • Contextualizing: Understanding or explaining how something fits within a larger set of circumstances.
  • Data: Information or evidence of any kind that is written down, recorded or collected in some manner. In research, data is analyzed to draw conclusions. Within CBR, there are many possible forms of data, including (but not limited to) responses to interview questions, blood samples, counts of how many people use the emergency room, recordings of focus group discussions, or visual data such photographs taken by research participants.
  • Database: A collection of data that can be easily accessed and analyzed. Databases are usually stored on computers, and require specific software programs for analysis.
  • Data Collection: The process of gathering information through a variety of activities and events. Data collection often proceeds according to a written plan describing exactly how the researchers will collect information: who collects the information, when, where, and how.
  • Decision-makers: Those members of the community who have the ability or power to influence and make decisions on behalf of others. The group of decision-makers includes policy-makers, those who determine public guidelines and policy.
  • Deductive: A form of reasoning in which existing theories on a topic are used to devise hypotheses, which are tested or explored in the study.
  • Dissemination: Dissemination is another word for communicating the study results to multiple audiences, including the community, academia, policy makers, etc. In CBR projects, research findings are often communicated in multiple ways, such as research reports, conference presentations, community workshops, and even theatrical performances.
  • Empirical Research: Research that uses data drawn from observation or experience.
  • Ethical Guidelines: All research is governed by strict ethical considerations and guidelines. Researchers are expected to do no harm through their research activities. Ethical guidelines are set by the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics, a national body that interprets and implements the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Human
  • Ethnography: Ethnographies are a qualitative method that studies groups and/or cultures over a period of time. The goal of this type of research is to comprehend the particular group/culture through immersion. Ethnographies often use multiple forms of data collection, including participant observation and interviews.
  • Focus Group: A qualitative research technique in which a group of participants (usually around 10 people) having common demographic characteristics, attitudes or social backgrounds are led through a discussion of a particular topic by a trained moderator. The focus group interaction is usually audio- or video-recorded and later transcribed to facilitate the analysis. Focus groups are frequently employed in community-based research to help generate research questions, and to ensure the research findings are relevant and accurate.
  • Generalizability: The extent to which research findings and conclusions from a study conducted on a sample can be applied to the larger population.
  • GIPA: Acronym for the Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS principle. This principle was developed by UNAIDS, and is defined as a principle that aims to realize the rights and responsibilities of people living with HIV, including their right to self-determination and participation in decision-making processes that affect their lives. The GIPA principle has many commonalities with the principles of CBR, and has played an important role in the advancement of HIV/AIDS-related CBR in BC.
  • Grounded Theory: A qualitative method that inductively analyses data in order to develop a theory.
  • Human subjects: People who volunteer to participate in a study, whether physically (e.g., by participating in a trial of a new medicine), or through the exchange of information (e.g., by responding to a survey). Also known as research participants or research volunteers.
  • Hypothesis: A tentative prediction of the research findings based on existing theory. In quantitative studies, the hypothesis often predicts a causal relationship between variables. In qualitative research, a hypothesis may be a prediction of the relationships between certain themes uncovered by research.
  • Inductive: The form of reasoning in which specific observations and patterns in the study findings are used to formulate a theory about the larger topic or population of interest.
  • Informed consent: An agreement to do something or allow something based on having all the facts and being educated on the risks and benefits. Researchers need to obtain informed consent from people before they can include them in their study. After a researcher has explained the purpose of the study, the type of data being collected, the way information will be used, and the possible risks and benefits of participating, a person can then freely choose whether or not to participate in the study. Informed consent is usually recorded on a signed document, but occasionally it is a verbal agreement.
  • Instrument (Data Collection Instrument): Researchers often call the tools they use to collect data “instruments.” This can be anything used to collect and organize information such as surveys, semi-structured interview guides, attendance records, or tests. Instruments may be newly designed for a specific project, or instruments from a past project may be used. Instruments from past projects are often used when the researcher wants to compare results from different projects
  • Inter-Rater Reliability: A measure, often used in qualitative analysis, for the extent to which two or more researchers are consistent in the themes and patterns they identify in the data.
  • Interviews: A research tool in which a researcher asks questions of participants. Interviews are often audio- or video-taped for later transcription and analysis. Interviews can very structured, such as in a survey, or can be loose and flexible, such as with semi-structured interviews where researchers commonly follow up on emerging themes with probing questions.
  • KTE: Acronym for Knowledge Transfer and Exchange, which broadly refers to the plan for incorporating and dissemination the knowledge generated by the study. A key characteristic of CBR projects is a comprehensive plan for KTE. CIHR defines KTE as a dynamic and iterative process that includes synthesis, dissemination, exchange and ethically sound application of knowledge to improve the health of Canadians, provide more effective health services and products and strengthen the health care system.
  • Likert Scale: A scale, often used in surveys, in which the respondent specifies a level of agreement or disagreement with statements that express a favourable or unfavourable attitude toward a given topic. For example, Likert Scales might include the following response options: 1) Strongly agree; 2) Agree; 3) Neutral; 4) Disagree; 5) Strongly Disagree.
  • Literature Review: Once the research team identifies a research question, a literature review is conducted to find out what is already known and established about that topic. Literature reviews generally involve reading academic publications (i.e., books and journal articles) and government and community organization reports (which are sometimes referred to as ‘grey literature’) on that topic. This comprehensive review allows the researchers to develop the hypotheses and research instruments for the study. Literature reviews are usually undertaken at the beginning of the research project.
  • Marginalized Groups: Groups of individuals who are most excluded from public discussion and who have limited access to centres of influence and power. Community-based research helps marginalized groups have their voices heard in order to influence the decisions and policies that affect their lives.
  • Maximum Variation Sampling: A sampling technique used in qualitative research to purposively select the widest range of cases possible. E.g., if a researcher wants to explore the difference in how people across age groups understand a particular topic, the researcher might then seek out a specific number of people from every age category for their sample.
  • Meta-Analysis: The process or technique of synthesizing research results from two or more studies by using various statistical methods to retrieve, select, and combine results from previous studies which all address the same question.
  • Mixed Methods: Research that combines qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative and quantitative data can be collected and analyzed concurrently or sequentially.
  • NVivo: A software program that facilitates qualitative analysis.
  • OCAP: Acronym for the principles of ownership, control, access, and possession, which have been developed by Aboriginal groups to guide research taking place in their communities. According to the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network, the principle ownership means that Aboriginal people will have authority over the research process as well as the products of research. Ownership also implies research should be conceptually and practically defined according to the cultural values and contexts of Aboriginal communities. The principle of control asserts that Aboriginal communities and organizations must develop and enhance their capacity and responsibility to make decisions at every stage of the process. The principle of access means that the research findings will be shared and used by the community where the research is done in order to help improve programming and policy in the research area. This includes translating the research instruments and results into terms understandable to the community. The principle of possession refers to the right of Aboriginal people to self-determination, Participant Observation: A qualitative data collection technique in which researchers immerse themselves in a culture, group, or activity and record their observations.
  • Peer Researcher/Research Assistant: Peer Researchers are members of the research team who identify with and can reasonably represent a community or group of interest for the research project. After taking part in training, peer researchers become active members of the research team, participating in many or all phases of the research project, particularly in the data collection phase.
  • Peer Review: Peer review refers to the process in which academic articles reporting on the study findings are independently critiqued and assessed by other academic experts in the field before it is published. Peer reviewed journal articles have traditionally been considered the gold standard for knowledge dissemination. However, in community-based research, peer-reviewed publications are only one of many dissemination strategies.
  • Photovoice: A participatory action research method that employs photography and group dialogue as a means for marginalized individuals to deepen their understanding of a community issue or concern. The visual images and accompanying stories are the tools used to reach policy- and decision-makers.
  • Pilot Test: A preliminary test or study to try out the research questions, methods and/or instruments, in order to make any necessary changes or adjustments before proceeding with the study.
  • PI: The principle investigator (sometimes referred to as primary investigator) is the researcher with overall responsibility for the direction of a research project, grant or contract.
  • Population: The entire collection of people or objects from which researchers collect data or draw a sample. It is the entire target group under investigation, about which researchers wish to describe or draw conclusions. Samples are drawn from populations.
  • Primary Data: Data collected by the researchers specifically for the research project.
  • Probing: In qualitative interviews and focus groups, probing refers to the process of asking follow-up questions to participants’ statements in order to elicit more information on a particular sub-topic. E.g., “Why is that?” and “Can you explain what you mean by that in more detail?” are examples of probing questions.
  • Purposive Subject Sampling: Selection of research participants according to preset criteria. E.g., sex, geographic location, age. The objective of purposive sampling is to include participants who can provide the richest and most theoretically insightful information on the research topic.
  • Qualitative Research: Empirical research in which the researcher explores a topic using textual or thematic data analysis. Focus groups, ethnographies, and photovoice are considered forms of qualitative research. Results are not usually considered generalizable, but are often transferable.
  • Quantitative Research: Empirical research in which the researcher explores a topic using numeric data analysis. Surveys are frequently used in quantitative research. Results can often be generalized, though this is not always the case.
  • Questionnaire: A set of questions designed to generate data necessary for accomplishing the objectives of the research project. Questionnaires can take the form or written or oral surveys, and interviews.
  • Random Sampling: A process used in research to draw a sample from a population strictly by chance. Each unit within the population has an equal and independent likelihood of selection. Random sampling is frequently used in quantitative surveys under the assumption that a sufficiently large sample will accurately reflect the characteristics and diversity of the wider population from which it is drawn.
  • Reliability: The extent to which a measure, procedure or instrument yields the same result on repeated trials.
  • Research Ethics Board (REB): An independent body constituted of academic experts and community representatives, who ensure the protection of the rights, safety and wellbeing of human participants involved in a study. In Canada, any academic study that involves human participants must be presented to a REB for approval, whether that participation is physical (e.g., medical trials) or based on information sharing (e.g., surveys and focus groups).
  • Research Question: The overarching question or problem that the researcher seeks to explore or answer.
  • Response Rate: In survey research, the actual percentage of questionnaires completed and returned.
  • Rigour: The degree to which research methods are scrupulously and meticulously carried out.
  • Sample: A sub-set of the larger population of interest from which data is collected in a particular study. In quantitative studies, samples are often random, meaning they are representative of the larger population. In qualitative studies, samples may be purposively or theoretically chosen because they provide valuable insight on the specific research topic of interest.
  • Secondary Data: Data that has been collected for another purpose, but may be re-analyzed in a subsequent study.
  • SPSS: A software program that facilitates quantitative analysis.
  • SSHRC: Acronym for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. SSHRC is the federal granting agency for social science and humanities research in Canada.
  • Systematic Review: A synthesis and critical assessment of the existing research evidence on a particular topic, obtained through an exhaustive literature search for all relevant studies. A systematic review is more thorough that a literature review, but does not use the statistical techniques of a meta-analysis.
  • Theoretical Subject Sampling: The selection of study participants who can provide insight on emerging findings in the data and will allow the researcher to further explore important themes and issues.
  • Transferability: The ability to use the findings of the research from one context to help understand or explain another similar context. Transferability is commonly used to assess the validity of qualitative research.
  • Validity: The degree to which a study accurately reflects or assesses the specific concept that the researcher is attempting to measure.
  • Variable: Any characteristic that can be measured on each unit of the population.

*This glossary has been adapted from the following sources: