Former Community-Based Research Assistant, UBC Learning Exchange
MASLIS candidate, UBC iSchool
Some of the studies in the Downtown Eastside that have big impacts on the community and on participants have run for 5 years. That’s a long time! Have you ever wished you could talk to a researcher or find out more about a study before it finishes and researchers publish about it? That’s a big part of my work as the Community Based Research (CBR) Assistant at the UBC Learning Exchange.
I was the CBR Assistant from September 2021 until August 2022, focusing primarily on the Downtown Eastside Research Access Portal (RAP). During that time, I helped add 18 new researchers to the researcher directory and 28 active and completed projects to the projects page. These pages list researchers who have told us that they would be happy to hear from folks in the DTES and the general public about their work. (Email us if you want to get in touch with a researcher, but you’d like some help getting started!)
A lot of the other work that I did was behind-the-scenes maintenance work that helped make the RAP more accessible. One way I did this was conducting a basic accessibility audit of the portal and changing some problems with the portal that had made content inaccessible for those using a screen reader. I also created a series of help videos that explain how to use and search the portal – I hope these are helpful for other visual learners like me.
I also helped take our research out of the portal and into action. While we started with some resources in the RAP, a lot of our research led us to look instead at case studies in communities outside the DTES. I also spoke about the RAP at UGM Summer Connect to help get out the word about the research that’s available for free on the RAP. Speaking to folks at Summer Connect really helped me reflect on the work I was doing and ways that the RAP could be more relevant and useful.
As a library and archival studies student, I study how libraries and archives organize information and the ways that information professionals can make information more accessible, but my work on the RAP gave me a whole new perspective on the importance of making information accessible to support justice and equity and counter extractive research practices. The team behind the RAP, which includes UBC, SFU, and VPL librarians, has put in place a lot of support for in the first place, and I’ve learned a phenomenal amount from working in the DTES alongside the team at the Learning Exchange. As I continue my studies, I’m excited to explore more about how we might change university structures and publishing practices to support ethical, reciprocal research in a systemic way.
Emma Moros was the Community-Based Research Assistant from September 2021-August 2022. They are currently pursuing a double masters in Archival Studies and Library and Information Studies.