In community-engaged research, academic researchers collaborate with many different types of partners. These may include people from:
- community agencies
- health care delivery organizations
- departments of public health
- other kinds of organizations
Together, academic and community partners identify research priorities, design projects, recruit participants, collect data, deliver interventions, analyze data, and disseminate findings. Community research partners are thus defined as individuals from non-academic settings who collaborate with university investigators to develop and implement research projects.
Due to federal and institutional policies, many community research partners are required to complete some type of formal "human subjects protection training" (sometimes called "IRB training" or "research ethics training"). Training is usually required when individuals interact with research participants and/or handle research data.
Most currently available research ethics training programs and materials are primarily geared towards learners who have some research experience and working knowledge of research methods (e.g., graduate students and junior researchers). They do not usually address the unique context of community-engaged research.
These programs and materials may not be well-received by community partners. A mismatch between the training needs of community partners and existing training programs can result in limited understanding of key concepts and rules. Community research partners may also feel disenchanted or uncertain about the research process.
Human research protection training should provide relevant, meaningful information and skills to help community partners translate their unique knowledge and skills to research collaborations. This is the goal of CIRTification.