What We Did and Why About the Research Study

Development of a Tool to Measure the Impact of Research-Oriented Partnerships

Research partnerships between universities and community organizations or groups are increasing in number in Canada and elsewhere. These partnerships are thought to produce knowledge that informs community members and leads to more efficient service delivery, more effective clinical programs, and enhanced community development. However, there is little concrete evidence of these benefits. One reason there is little evidence is the lack of a reliable and valid tool to measure various types of community impacts on a general level. We need to be better able to describe and demonstrate the benefits of research partnerships from the perspective of community members.

Who We Are About The Partnership

Researchers from five community-university research partnerships from Ontario, Canada joined together to develop a reliable and valid survey to measure the community impacts of research partnerships between universities and community agencies. The five partnerships included:

  • The Research Alliance for Children with Special Needs
    Logo of The Research Alliance for Children with Special Needs. The logo depicts three children and the Sun, designed to show the strengths and abilities of children. One of the children is in a wheelchair to indicate our interest in enhancing the life experiences of children with special needs. One child is carrying books to symbolize our interest in school experiences, since school is a crucial setting for the participation and development of all children, including those with special needs.

    The Research Alliance for Children with Special Needs (RACSN)

    The Research Alliance for Children with Special Needs (RACSN) was a London-based partnership of researchers from the fields of education, health, social services, and academia. RACSN was led by a community-based research program located at Thames Valley Children's Centre, and partnered with two local school boards, two social service agencies, and the University of Western Ontario. RACSN addressed the issue of enhancing children's participation through an integrated research program bridging research and practice. The Alliance was based on an infrastructure model. RACSN provided the necessary structure and organizational support to allow partner groups to pool their energies, skills, and knowledge to provide a concerted and coordinated research, dissemination, and training effort.

    Gillian King - Director of RACSN
    Marilyn Kertoy, Jacqueline Specht, and Melissa Currie - RACSN Investigators

    Years Active: 2000–2007

  • Mental Health and Housing
    Logo of the Mental Health and Housing community-university research alliance depicting four individuals of varying heights holding up a peaked roof-like structure.

    Partnerships in Capacity Building, Housing, Community Economic Development and Psychiatric Survivors

    In this London-based CURA, researchers, social service professionals, community volunteers, as well as individuals who have experienced mental health challenges, collaborated on a number of related projects to evaluate existing models of supported housing. This CURA has developed a template which seeks to explore and understand which type of housing works best for whom, and improve placement success. This participatory approach to research will give a real voice to a marginalized constituency, enabling them to share their insights and opinions with community and academic partners and to develop working relationships within their own community as well as between consumer, social agency, professional, and academic communities.

    Cheryl Forchuk - Academic Director

    Years Active: 2001–2006

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  • Youth Lifestyle Choices
    Logo of the Youth Lifestyle Choices community-university research alliance depicting a tree with roots extending underground to each letter in the abbreviation: YLC-CURA. The logo also includes the word

    Youth Lifestyle Choices - Enhancement of Youth Resiliency and Reduction of Harmful Behaviours Leading to Healthy Lifestyle Choices (YLC-CURA)

    The St. Catharines-based YLC-CURA was a long-term strategic partnership between a number of Brock University faculty and Niagara community agencies to better understand resilience and youth lifestyle choices. By examining factors that enhance resilience, the team focused on minimizing risk behaviours to a responsible moderate level while protecting youth from adverse consequences. By promoting health rather than limiting risk, the focus was on all youth so that strategies and interventions could encourage positive lifestyle choices for all. The YLC-CURA was unequivocally committed to ensuring that all its members have the opportunity to fully participate and influence its direction and work.

    Teena Willoughby and Heather Chalmers - Co-Directors of YLC-CURA

    Years Active: 2000–2006

  • Therapeutic Relationships from Hospital to Community
    Logo of the Therapeutic Relationships from Hospital to Community study depicting three figures with arms outstretched arranged around a lightbulb.

    Therapeutic Relationships from Hospital to Community - Implementation of Evidence Based Practice

    This four-year, $930,000 study tested a new approach to supporting people with chronic mental illness as they made the transition from the hospital to the community. It involved 380 discharged patients from Regional Mental Health Care London/St. Thomas (formally known as London/St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospital), the Centre for Mountain Health Care, St. Joseph's Health Care, Hamilton (formally known as Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital) and the Whitby Mental Health Centre. The overall objective of this study was to assist individuals hospitalized with a chronic mental illness in successful community living. The specific objectives were to determine the cost and effectiveness of a transitional discharge model of care, and compare it to the standard model of discharge. The transitional model focused on interpersonal relationships.

    Cheryl Forchuk - Project's Principal Investigator

    Years Active: 2003–2007

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  • The CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research
    Logo of CanChild, depicting a stylized stick figure of a child and the text

    The CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research

    The CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research is a Health System-Linked Research Unit funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health. The Centre is sponsored by McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation in Hamilton. CanChild is a multi-disciplinary team whose mandate is to conduct high quality research in the area of childhood disability. A major goal of the unit is to foster the transfer of research findings into clinical practice. The Research programs at CanChild concentrate on children and youth with disabilities and their families within the context of the communities in which they live. CanChild's focus is on the interrelationships between individuals, their families, communities, and health systems. The focus of research conducted by CanChild is broad, and includes children and youth with physical, developmental, and/or communicative needs who require rehabilitation services, as well as their families.

    Mary Law and Peter Rosenbaum - Co-Directors of CanChild

    Years Active: 1989–Present

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A Model of the Types of Community Impacts of Research Partnerships

We began by creating a model that outlines three major areas of impact that correspond to the core functions of collaborative research partnerships discussed in the research literature (i.e., knowledge generation, research education and training, and knowledge sharing; see Currie et al., 2005).

The model will assist research partners, intended recipients, and funders to understand and evaluate the real-world impacts of community-university research partnerships. The model provides research partnerships with a tool to demonstrate their accountability and to improve their operations and impacts, and evaluators with a tool to guide planning and evaluation efforts.


Currie, M., King, G., Law, M., Rosenbaum, P., Kertoy, M., & Specht, J. (2003). A model of the types of community impacts of research partnerships. Available from www.impactmeasure.org


When viewing the model, Tap / Hover over any of the text to learn more about that item. Swipe / Click the pulsing centre point to open the next ring.

Introducing the CIROP Measure

The CIROP will inform research partnerships about the amount of impact, if any, they are having on their target audiences in the areas of Knowledge Enhancement, Research Skill Development, and Information Use. This tool is designed to measure the impact of research partnerships (in the social and health service sectors) from the perspective of community members and researchers (i.e., those receiving information or services from the partnership, or those involved in the partnership).

Uses of the CIROP Measure

Research partnerships wishing to evaluate their effectiveness may invite the intended users or beneficiaries of their partnership's knowledge sharing and education efforts to complete the CIROP. This instrument also will allow community stakeholders and advisory boards to capture the success of their collaborative research initiatives.

The CIROP can also be used as a research tool to assess the effectiveness of knowledge sharing approaches, determine the most influential activities of research partnerships, and determine structural characteristics of partnerships associated with various types of impact. The CIROP provides a better understanding of community members’ perspectives and expectations of research partnerships, with important implications for knowledge transfer and uptake.

How We Developed the CIROP

We created items for the measure based on:

  • Items of impact from the research literature that reflected the 3 mid-term impact domains in our Impact Model (i.e., Knowledge Enhancement, Research Skill Enhancement, and Information Use).
  • Information gained from focus groups with key informants.

To evaluate whether our measure was reliable and valid, we invited community members and researchers, involved in any way with our Partnerships, to complete the CIROP. This testing provided us with feedback about how to refine the tool. Specific details about the development of the CIROP Measure are described in the journal article: A Measure of Community Members’ Perceptions of the Impacts of Research Partnerships in Health and Social Services.

Get More Info

The CIROP Measure

The CIROP is a 33-item generic measure of community members' (i.e., those receiving information or services from the partnership, or those involved in the partnership) perceptions of the impact of research partnerships addressing social and health issues.

In the CIROP, the focus is on how and to what extent a specific research partnership has had an influence on an individual, an organization or group, and a community. The CIROP Measure will inform research partnerships about the amount of impact, if any, they are having on their target audiences in the areas of:

Personal Knowledge Development

Personal Research Skill Development

Organizational / Group Access to, and Use of, Information

Community and Organizational Development

CIROP Measure of Impact

King, G., Servais, M., Currie, M., Kertoy, M., Law, M., Rosenbaum, P., Specht, J., Willoughby, T., Forchuk, C., & Chalmers, H. (2003). The Community Impacts of Research-Oriented Partnerships (The CIROP Measure). Available from www.impactmeasure.org.

Get a free copy of the final version of the CIROP Measure.

Download the PDF

The Four CIROP Measure Scales Mapped Onto the Impact Model

Researcher Point of View

The Impact Model can also be used to illustrate the Researcher point of view. Researchers in collaborative research partnerships work hard to generate knowledge, provide research education and training opportunities, and share knowledge. Researchers hope that their efforts will have an impact on their targeted audiences. The Researcher point of view can be seen in the Impact Model by starting at the innermost ring and moving to the outer rings (this perspective is "looking out at the community").

Recipient Point of View

Community members also have important influences on research partnerships by contributing their skills, knowledge, and insights. The Impact Model attempts to capture the reciprocal nature of research partnerships through the use of "ripples".

The following version of the Impact Model is a visual portrayal of the community and community members "looking in" at research partnerships. This figure portrays the relationship of the CIROP scales—which capture the major types of benefits in the eyes of community members—to the three main functions of research partnerships. Recipients/community members see research outputs as tools they can potentially utilize. They focus on the things they gain from the research education and training, and knowledge sharing functions of partnerships-these are the areas of benefit captured in the four CIROP scales.

For further information see the journal article: A Measure of Community Members' Perceptions of the Impacts of Research Partnerships.

Get More Info


King, G., Currie, M., & Servais, M. (2006). CIROP scales mapped onto the impact model: Showing recipient and research points of view. Available from www.impactmeasure.org.


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