Call for Papers: The Community-Based PhD: Complexities, Triumphs, Missteps, and Joys of Community-based & Participatory Action Research as Graduate Students

ndigenous,community-based, participatory, and action-research methods are increasingly prevalent as frameworks for scholarly research. This is true not only in social sciences, humanities, and arts-based work, but also in numerous science and STEM fields, particularly those that engage with and see value in traditional ecological knowledge. Researchers are finding value in braiding forms of knowledge together, bringing university and community knowledge into conversation with each other. Universities across the globe  offer graduate programs and coursework to train students in the ethics and practice of engaging in research with, by and for communities rather than on them.

While coursework, training opportunities, and scholarly literature on CBPR (community-based participatory action research) and PAR (participatory action research) theories, methods, and practices have become more abundant and robust, we lack guidance and insights for undertaking this work as a graduate student. For dissertation research, CBPR and PAR present unique and often complex set of ethical and practical challenges and risks: lengthening research timeframes and time to degree completion, developing the skill sets required for effective relationship-building with community partners, understanding and navigating community politics, managing the risks associated with shared authority and community decision-making, to name a few. For example, what happens when the community you’re partnering with has a change of leadership and no longer wishes for the research to take place? Productive research partnerships are based on concepts of relationality and trust which need to build over time. How can one engage in a CBPR dissertation project in a time frame that is realistic? How does one reconcile academic and community deliverables in ways that support one’s career interests? There are also positive aspects and rewarding experiences that flow from community-based work. Participatory methods give graduate students fulfillment in feeling that one’s work matters and has real impact on important contemporary issues. Arts-based work and other products of community-based work can bring much needed creative outlet and balance to one’s life.

Are you a graduate student who has or is currently engaged in CBPR and willing to share your experiences and the lessons you’ve learned? We want to hear from you! Consider contributing a chapter or creative or arts-based piece (graphic narrative, poetry or creative writing, etc.) to our edited volume “The Community-Based PhD”. We are looking for contributors at any stage of the research/writing process, in any discipline. We are looking for contributors who can share complex and nuanced experiences of CBPR graduate work. We welcome contributions that detail the challenges and complexities you’ve faced and we are also interested to learn how the triumphs and joys of your work. While we are aware that scholars are often reluctant to be open about and highlight their mistakes, we feel it’s important to document and share experiences of our failures and missteps along with reflections on how you might do things differently. This will be a peer-reviewed volume so we ask that you ground your experiences in the scholarly literature of community-based work and CBPR

The Community-Based PhD” will be a peer-reviewed edited volume and we are currently exploring publishing options with several presses. The abstract submission deadline for abstracts is April 1. The deadline for submissions is August 1, 2019.  We anticipate publication in late 2020.

Email Sonya Atalay ( and Alexandra McCleary ( with your name, institutional affiliation, title and brief (1-2 paragraph) abstract of your contribution. Length of chapters will depend on the number of participants we have.