Focus Area 3: Research priority setting and Integrated Knowledge Translation

For a variety of reasons, the inclusion of citizens in research priority setting and participatory research methods is growing in Canada and abroad. CIHR has a large part to play in facilitating the relationships between citizens and the academic community. This Focus Area from the CE Framework emphasizes the importance of supporting opportunities to foster and maintain relationships between citizens and CIHR’s funded researchers. The development of these relationships is mutually beneficial because citizens’ input can be used to comment on the relevance of proposed research, to identify research gaps, and to inform research priorities, while the experience of being part of the research process can empower communities and can increase scientific literacy.

CIHR has developed funding streams to support the involvement of citizens in research priority setting and the “merit review” of applications. The focus of these funding streams is to foster the engagement of researchers and knowledge users in the co-creation of knowledge and its application (known at CIHR as integrated knowledge translation). The intent is to encourage the participation of knowledge users1 throughout the research process so that they can inform the study question and research plan, and be involved in interpreting the findings, in crafting the dissemination messages, and in applying the results.

Community-based research (CBR), another established funding stream at CIHR, is similar to participatory research, but the focus of the principal study is within a specific community. It encompasses a spectrum of research that actively engages community members or groups to various degrees, ranging from community participation to community initiation and control research. CIHR’s HIV/AIDS Community-based Research Program has been especially successful – not only because it encourages researchers to forge relationships with community members, but because the HIV/AIDS community has also helped CIHR develop the program itself. To find out more about this program, see the HIV/AIDS Community-based Research Program case study.


1A “knowledge user” can be, but is not limited to, a practitioner, policy-maker, educator, decision-maker, health care administrator, community leader, or an individual in a health charity, patient group, private sector organization, or media outlet.  Citizens, primarily affected populations and community organizations, are identified as knowledge users.