NOSC 2012: Working with Community Partners and Students

By Kirsten J. Barnes, Center for Community-Based Partnerships

Drs. Cassandra Simon and Jessica Averitt-Taylor, along with doctoral student Vicky Carter, told community partners and young scholars why they should become actively involved in scholarly writing during the 13th Annual National Outreach Scholarship Conference.

"We are facilitating the exchange of mutually beneficial knowledge," said Simon, an associate professor of social work at The University of Alabama and editor of the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship.

Simon said although some scholars believe only those with the highest degree can publish in scholarly journals, she disagrees.

"Some people believe that only those who have formal education can publish," Simon said. "I don't think that just because people don't have a formal degree means they don't have something scholarly to say. I think we need to acknowledge those voices more."

Carter serves as assistant to the editor; while Averitt-Taylor, now an assistant professor of social work at Northern Kentucky University's Department of Counseling, served in that capacity before earning her doctoral degree.

"This type of research is not possible without the full involvement of the community," Averitt-Taylor said, adding that community partners deserve more than an author's note of thanks. She said community partners deserve full and/or shared authorship.

The group emphasized the same for student authors. They encouraged student researchers to become active in this type of research, but cautioned them of their responsibility in dealing with community partners as well. Additionally, they encouraged graduate assistants to negotiate their role in the research of their professors.

"Don't be afraid of people in academia," Simon said. "Nobody is more valuable than anyone else and everybody brings different resources to the table."

Engaged scholarship is a way for young scholars and community members to share valuable experiences, knowledge and skills with others; it enhances the marketability of that student in the workforce; adds to the collective wealth of the profession; leads to lasting networking and collaborations with colleagues; and builds civic contributions.

"In each issue of JCES we try to have one community perspective piece and at least one student piece," Simon said, adding that JCES is looking for community partners and students to serve on its editorial board so that the community and student pieces will become peer reviewed as well. "These are not full manuscripts. We are trying to get the model with the students perfected so we can then more fully implement the peer review with the community partners."

These perspectives are short and concise, but explain the personal or community benefit and impact of engaged-scholarship.

"We would welcome a two- or three-page community perspective or student perspective," Averitt-Taylor said. "We do book reviews as well."