University research in the neighborhood: The perspective of community members
The Ohio State University Office of Outreach and Engagement is committed to community-based and participatory research. As part of this commitment, the office funded a study to inform Ohio State leadership and researchers about community and neighborhood leaders' perspectives on Ohio State research, specifically as participants in research, but more generally as community and neighborhood leaders. The intent of this study is not to be prescriptive about how the office or the university should move forward. Rather, the intent is to elevate community-member voices as a starting point to understand the position of the broader university and allow for a reflexive understanding of its role, and that of researchers, in community-based and participatory research.
The study looked at the research question "How can a large, land-grant research institution build meaningful community relationships while conducting research?" and collected qualitative data via interviews and focus groups with community-wide leaders and neighborhood leaders and residents, some with experience with Ohio State research projects and some without.
Interviews and focus groups were conducted in a multi-site case study research design. Sites included Weinland Park, Eastside, Linden, and Franklinton.
Highlights of Study Results
Participants do not separate out their research experiences from outreach, teaching, and general activities of Ohio State personnel. Most had multiple interactions with the university, and the majority had some sort of past, formal relationship with the university (e.g., as a student or employee).
Narratives and perspectives about the university are mixed. The lens through which participants view Ohio State, Ohio State research, and the associated narratives, endure over time, often based on specific experiences from decades earlier.
Narratives of a negative nature tended to be broad, while specific experiences tended to be positive. This was not true for Black interviewees, and this also varied by neighborhood.
Interviewees voiced a strong desire for Ohio State to be part of meaningful, transformative community change through impactful research.
Interviewees cited negative and positive interactions with students.