How will we keep the partnership strong and sustainable? How will we evaluate a long-term partnership? Do we have an idea of what will happen when funding ends?
Once a partnership is established, maintaining the partnership becomes important for an effective research project. Building a regular and frequent contact schedule is an important aspect of a partnership. Regular meetings can act as check-ins, and these check-ins help keep everyone on track and on task while also being a vehicle to discuss issues and ideas that arise. In communications, be clear on goals, motivations, timelines, capacity, and expectations. Furthermore, during a partnership, members of the research team sometimes change jobs or have other life events come up.
Role transitions are hard and can happen in the university, community, with students, and with administrative support. Reduce the impact of transitions by establishing shared data systems, which include a shared file storage and guidelines, decisions that have been made, meeting minutes, on-board packages, etc.
How will we create a research contract? Do we know how we will address legality and where to go for legal advice?
Universities are large institutions that often have a lot more experience with research than community organizations, which means there are lots of benefits to working with universities but also that care should be taken to protect the community organization’s particular interests. A formal agreement can help guard against formal disputes that may occur.
For formal agreements, you may want to seek legal advice, depending on the nature of the agreement/partnership and the research, both to help with the content of the agreement but also with its structure. Partnership agreements can also ensure that partners are on the same page and help provide a formal structure to the partnership arrangement that can be sustained over time, even after the individuals in the partnership are no longer present.
Partnership agreements help move towards sustained partnerships and away from person-centred partnerships that can crumble in periods of turnover. When partnerships are formalized, they are less susceptible to staff transitions and are more likely to have continued support.
How will we decide who owns the data? How will the data be stored?
When partnering with university faculty and/or the institutions themselves, a formal agreement can solidify things like data ownership. Discuss early on who will take credit for the findings of the research and make decisions regarding the channels of dissemination. Decisions such as the archival and future use of data should also be reviewed and included in formal agreements.
In a community-driven approach the needs of the organization should drive decisions surrounding data ownership, however academic partners may have publishing pressures and funding partners may impose data ownership conditions.