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Researchers in numerous fields assert that research partnerships involving academics and nonacademics are essential for developing solutions to pressing and complex problems. While theoretically justified and urgently needed, working across institutional and epistemological boundaries to produce knowledge and create solutions turns out to be complex and challenging. Given the potential and often realized challenges of collaborations, and the need for partners to come together to develop workable solutions, additional research is needed on process in research collaborations. With this paper, we contribute to the literature on process and outcomes in the development of community-university research teams. Specifically, we study local government officials’ (LGOs) process and outcome preferences for engaging in community-university research partnerships and their perceptions of academic researchers. Our data were generated from open-ended responses to a statewide survey of LGOs in Maine, United States, during the scoping phase of a large-scale sustainability-focused research initiative. Our findings revealed that respondents’ process preferences were influenced by such considerations as partners’ willingness to codesign the partnership and the attendant research, and by having a shared understanding of partner needs and responsibilities. Stakeholders’ outcome preferences were influenced by their perceptions of the type and relevance of the outcomes to all involved parties. We conclude with a discussion of how to use this data to initiate research partnerships and facilitate inclusive partnership processes. Being mindful of partners’ process and outcomes preferences in research collaborations and being aware of the perceptions that partners bring to the table are important for achieving solutions that are inclusive, thoughtful, and ethical.


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  • Alternative title
    • Stakeholder Preferences in Community-University Research Partnerships

  • Journal title
    • Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship

  • Volume
    • 13

  • Issue
    • 2

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • License
  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      In association with the authors and other members of the Knowledge-to-Action Collaborative at the University of Maine, Dr. Kathleen Bell and Dr. Jessica Leahy played significant roles in the collaborative framing of the overall research strategy that contributed to the development of the Maine Municipal Official survey. In addition to codesigning the survey, they contributed to the acquisition of survey data and were instrumental in guiding quantitative analyses reflected in other manuscripts published about the survey findings. Thank you also to Dr. Bridie McGreavy, University of Maine, for reviewing and providing feedback on portions of the manuscript. Finally, we thank our colleagues at the University of Maine’s Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions for spearheading the research initiative that supported this collaborative work. Portions of this manuscript were presented at the 2014 Eastern Communication Association Conference, Providence, Rhode Island.