Negotiating Research Relationships: A Guide for Communities

An Excerpt


The following is a reprint of a pamphlet produced by the Nunavut
Research Institute and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (formerly the Inuit
Tapiriisat of Canada). Although it was produced for the benefit of the Inuit,
its guidelines apply equally well to First Nations and Métis Settlements. We
include it here as a resource for all Aboriginal and indigenous communities
who are, have been, or will be involved in research.

This guide is about research relationships. It looks at ways you and your
community can decide how research is done in your area, and how you can
be involved. This guide will explain your legal rights when it comes to research,
and suggest ways you can work with researchers to make sure your
individual rights are protected and that you and your community’s concerns
are respected by researchers. The guide will help you to:

  • Understand what research is.
  • Understand what your rights are when someone wants to involve you in research.
  • Learn the rules and ethics researchers should follow.
  • Get ideas on how you can participate in and influence research.
  • Work with your community to set up research contracts outlining how research should be done.


We wrote this guide because Inuit have the right to set priorities for research and to influence how research gets done; and because research has the potential to be very valuable both to researchers and the communities involved. Unfortunately, northern research has not always been helpful to everyone it affects. Researchers from the south have been coming to Inuit communities for many years to study all kinds of things about Inuit life, culture and the environment. People in the communities have told us that they aren’t always sure about what researchers do, why they do it and how their research benefits the community. Many Inuit feel they have not been involved enough in the research process. Because of this, there sometimes develops a mistrust of research, and local people may even become angry with researchers who intrude into their daily lives. On the other hand, efforts to make researchers more responsible to the communities and people who are being researched have resulted in guidelines for ethical research. Many Canadian universities and government agencies involved in research now use these guidelines. There are also things that individuals and organizations in the North can do to make sure that what gets researched and how research gets done is acceptable and helpful to Inuit communities. We hope that this guide will help individuals in remote communities understand research, how it is done and why it might be relevant or not relevant for your community.

(click on PDF to read more)

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