Research Toolkit

Community-Led Research is becoming more common across the globe as we all grapple with the realities of human development, climate change and progress.  We have gathered up and created several useful resources to help community research practitioners and supporters to develop their own robust programs.  If you know of other great resources, please let us know about them at trackingchange@ualberta.ca.

TERMINOLOGY

Having a common understanding of terminology is key to building a successful interdisciplinary research project.  Having a glossary or shared list of terms upfront can help to ensure that all participants understand the project in a similar way.  Below are some of the terms that we have come across in developing the Tracking Change Project and Community Based Monitoring projects across western Canada.

The term “Indigenous knowledge”, in this volume, is used interchangeably with the term Traditional Knowledge (TK) or Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) – the cumulative body of knowledge, practices and beliefs that have developed over many generations by local communities about ecosystems and their relationship to it (Berkes, 2008). Although the term “Indigenous Knowledge” is being used in this report, “Traditional Knowledge” is the term embedded in legislation and various policies in Canada including land claim settlement agreements and processes (Brenda Parlee, 2012).

Although the term suggests homogeneity, Indigenous knowledge is complex and diverse. It is often more appropriate and useful to refer to the local cultural context or refer to the mode or frame in which peoples articulate their own Indigenous knowledge (e.g., Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit is the knowledge of Inuit peoples of northern Canada). Moreover, referring to the specific resource or management context of the Indigenous Knowledge may be ideal best practice in monitoring (e.g., Denesọłiné knowledge of caribou).

Indigenous knowledge has many different dimensions.  In addition to local knowledge (observations) it also refers to the practices, beliefs and institutions (rules) for relating to and respecting resources and ecosystems.

Not all multi-generational and land-based knowledge is attributable to Indigenous peoples of framed as Traditional Knowledge. Fishers’ knowledge can refer to the knowledge of Indigenous fishers (e.g., the Haida) but can also refer to non-Indigenous fishers and their multi-generational knowledge (e.g. inshore fishers’ knowledge in Newfoundland) (B.  Neis, 1992).

Traditional knowledge is unique from local knowledge in that it is more longitudinal or tends to be based on many more years, if not generations, of observing, experiencing and interpreting ecosystems (Battiste, 2011; Berkes, 2009; Danielson et al., 2009; McGregor, 2000; D.  Riedlinger & Berkes, 2000). It is because of this longitudinal scope, that Traditional Knowledge is increasingly recognized as useful in monitoring by many scientists, resource managers and governments (Boyce, Baxter, & Possingham, 2012; Henri, Jean-Gagnon, & G., 2018; P. Lyver, 2002; H. Moller, F. Berkes, P. O. B. Lyver, & M. Kislalioglu, 2004; Whitelaw, Vaughan, Craig, & Atkinson, 2003). In this context Traditional Knowledge may be able to help answer the following kinds of questions:

  • What are useful indicators for understanding ecosystem dynamics?
  • What kinds of patterns of ecological variability are characteristic of particular ecosystems and how do those differ from changes that might be associated with climate change?
  • What are the ways in which different kinds of ecosystem components interact over time?
  • How should we respectfully and meaningfully track these changes over time?

Indigenous knowledge is sometimes used interchangeably with the term local knowledge; while there are some similarities, the two knowledge systems are unique. Indigenous knowledge refers specifically to the knowledge of an Indigenous person or peoples; local knowledge has broader origins and tends not to reflect the longitudinal (long term) observation, experience nor spiritual connectedness often associated with Indigenous knowledge systems.  Local knowledge is a widely used concept used in academic and practical contexts. There is no universally accepted definition of local knowledge given there is a diversity of environments and cultures in which knowledge is generated and myriad uses and outcomes of use (Berkes, 2008; Brook & McLachlan, 2005). Most descriptions of local knowledge in natural resource management refer to land-based or applied knowledge and skills including observations of ecological conditions and how-to knowledge for coping and adapting to change. Like traditional knowledge, local knowledge also tends to be orally or informally transmitted and shared locally and within family and community groups (McGregor, 2000)

Local knowledge is the knowledge that any peoples might hold about the environment around them. “This includes the way people observe and measure their surroundings, how they solve problems and validate new information. It includes the processes whereby knowledge is generated, stored, applied and transmitted to others” (FAO, 2004). Local knowledge, like traditional knowledge, is a cumulative body of knowledge and may be passed down from generation to generation and closely interwoven with people’s cultural values. This encompasses the skills, experiences and insights of people, applied to maintain or improve their livelihood (FAO, 2004). A related category of local knowledge is “fishers’ knowledge” (B.  Neis, 1992).

Local knowledge is a resource within communities. In economic terms, it might be considered a form of capital that exists within urban centres and among rural peoples. “It is the main asset they invest in the struggle for survival, to produce food, provide for shelter or achieve control of their own lives” (FAO, 2004). A community’s ability to build and mobilize knowledge capital is as essential to its development as physical and financial capital (FAO, 2004).

“Western science” is often defined as the mainstream body of knowledge behind conventional resource management practices. The increasing interest in alternative knowledge (e.g., Traditional Knowledge) stems in part, from a critique of mainstream science as expert-driven, centralized and top down, technocratic and reductionist with limited potential to address complex or wicked problems such as climate change (Ludwig, 2001).

RESEARCH & ETHICS

ARI RESEARCH LICENSE

METHODS

STUDENT GRANT APPLICATION FORM
HOW TO…(VOLUME1, MAY 2016)

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Some Ideas on Methods for Community-Based Research on Social-Ecological Change in the Mackenzie River Basin

HOW-TO…(VOLUME2, MAY 2017)

Fishing Livelihoods:
Harvest and Perceptions of Change Fish Health

HOW-TO…(VOLUME3, MAY 2018)

Fishing Livelihoods:
Changes in the Fish and Water in Places we Consider Important

GUIDING INTERVIEW QUESTIONS TRACKING CHANGE IN THE MACKENZIE RIVER BASIN

FORMS & TEMPLATES

PARTICIPANT INFORMATION SHEET
PARTICIPANT RECRUITMENT LETTER
PARTICIPANT INFORMATION SHEET
PARTICIPANT CONSENT FORM
FIELD TRIP WAIVER TEMPLATE
FIELD ACTIVITIES PLAN TEMPLATE

FUNDING

Tracking Change Funding
Student Grant Application Form

ONLINE RESOURCES