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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.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.