Community engaged methods are a set of methods that center the voices and experiences of community members in ongoing research. Given the powerful insights that quantitative research can provide, including in the economics and data science fields, there is a significant opportunity to incorporate community engagement and lived experience into quantitative research. However, quantitative researchers sometimes do not have access to the tools or infrastructure needed to incorporate robust community collaboration into their workflow.
This resource aims to address this gap and provide quantitative researchers with practical and theoretical considerations that incorporate participatory methods —or community-engaged processes that collaborate with community members in research— into quantitative research, with the ultimate goal of increasing the rigor and policy relevance of quantitative research.
Why this matters
Some communities, especially communities of color and communities with low income, have been excluded from collaborating on research design and implementation and are searching for more equitable and inclusive research methods, approaches, and findings that undo past policy and research harms. At the same time, quantitative researchers are increasingly raising concerns that standard quantitative research methods are unable to effectively engage communities, collect accurate data, or comprehensively explore systemic inequities.
Although participatory methods are often associated or conflated with qualitative research, these methods can also provide quantitative researchers with tangible tools and approaches to ensure their research is more rigorous, equitable, and policy relevant. Participatory quantitative research (ParQuant methods) can better balance power dynamics between researchers and the community and ultimately produce more accurate, actionable, collaborative, and rigorous quantitative research.
What is included in this resource
The toolkit provides an overview of some ways to embed participatory methods into all phases of the quantitative research process. It includes the following:
- Case studies and actionable participatory strategies quantitative researchers can use during the five common stages of research projects: (1) research and protocol design, (2) data collection, (3) data processing and analysis, (4) research and data interpretation, and (5) research dissemination and data access.
- A “Defining the Community” worksheet, with guiding questions for quantitative researchers to consider when deciding which community members to collaborate with during research projects.
- Three theoretical considerations linking the goals and methods of quantitative and participatory research.