Trustworthiness and Research Reciprocity

Trustworthiness and research reciprocity are essential ingredients for successful, community-based participatory research, which is a collaborative method involving community members, scientists, practitioners, administrators, organizational leaders, and others in all aspects of the research process. The equitable treatment of community collaborators as members of the research team strengthens and supports the research design to promote greater and more relevant impact for communities.

Acknowledgement and compensation in research studies can take many forms, including direct compensation, knowledge sharing such as budget review or grant training, and even simply connecting individuals to other relevant leaders and organizations. By acknowledging community partners with relevant resources, the research process can shift from work being done on communities to being done with communities.

best practices

Key Questions for Consideration

  • What is research reciprocity? 
  • How does trust relate to research reciprocity? 
  • How can we conceptualize/operationalize these terms?

Key Recommendations 

  • Foster Trust 
    • Trust is essential to economic and social transactions that require individuals to behave in cooperative and reciprocal ways. 
    • Begin building trust by informing, consulting, and including community members in the research process.
  • Use Community-Based Participatory Research Approaches
    • Integrating community collaborators as members of the research team strengthens and supports research designed for a direct and positive impact. 
    • Respect participant time and communicate their involvement. 
    • Return results of study to both participants and leaders. 
    • Consider potential disruptions in payment processes (for example, holidays, summer vacations, academic calendars). Communicate these disruptions or other options to maintain trust.
  • Promote Research that is Beneficial for Everyone, and Work to Meet their Needs 
    • Being altruistic and participating in research are intertwined; altruism requires that all other basic needs are met.
    • Work with trusted messengers and leaders to engage with community members to understand their needs and ways to give back to the community.
  • Develop Long-Standing Relationships With Champions, Elected Officials, Neighborhood Associations, Libraries, Churches, and Local Clinics
    • Consider creating a community board or committee and hosting regular meetings to develop a meaningful rapport, even beyond the research study.
    • Go to local fairs or other areas to speak and give back to the people (for example, sponsor a community event, offer to provide resources or educational materials, invite community members to upcoming events).

Targeted Resources

CEACR Resource Toolkits 

CEACR resource toolkits were developed using expert insights and direct feedback from community leaders. CEACR supports NIH-funded research teams seeking to apply principles of community engagement to address diversifying research participation, with a specific emphasis on communities traditionally underrepresented in research.

Requests for CEACR services can be made at