Redefining peer review and products of engaged scholarship

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Community-engaged scholarship (CES) is increasingly discussed as a vehicle for enhancing science, improving the relevance of the academy, increasing the impact universities can make on their stakeholder communities, and making real change in societal conditions. Engaged faculty have recognized that in order to be relevant and to have impact, knowledge needs to be communicated in new ways and to more diverse audiences. This calls for generation of additional types of scholarly products targeted for the audiences to be impacted. Much as the peer-reviewed journal article, the traditional "gold standard" of evidence of scholarship, is tailored for the academic reader, products of engaged scholarship must be tailored to nonacademic audiences such as practitioners, policy makers, and citizens. As stated in Linking Scholarship and Communities: Report of the Commission on Community- Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions (Commission, 2005), Peer-reviewed publications are essential for communicating the results of community-engaged scholarship to academic audiences, but they are not sufficient and are often not the most important mechanism for disseminating results. They do little, if anything, to reach community members, practitioners, policymakers, and other key audiences. Community-engaged scholarship requires diverse pathways and products for dissemination, including those that communities value most. These pathways and products (referred to from here on as nontraditional products of CES) may take a myriad of forms based on content as well as the learning styles and preferred forms of communication of intended audiences. Examples include training materials, resource guides, policy briefing reports, intervention program manuals, curricula, online case studies, videos, CD-ROMs, websites, and TV or radio pieces. These products may result from diverse faculty activities such as research, teaching, program development, and policy education. Such nontraditional products concentrate on the immediate transfer of knowledge into application, "strengthen collaborative ties between academics and practice," and enable faculty to "apply disciplinary knowledge to practice" with communities (Aday & Quill, 2000). Although faculty work and, to some degree, expectations on faculty have expanded to respond to the need for such diverse pathways and products for dissemination, peer-review mechanisms and the ability of promotion and tenure (P and T) committees to acknowledge nontraditional products in the P and T review have not kept pace. This chapter discusses the challenges faced by faculty members creating nontraditional products of CES, the debates that have shaped these challenges over recent decades, and a set of critical issues that must be tackled in the coming decade if CES is to have the expected benefit to communities, make contributions to our knowledge base, and facilitate the career advancement of communityengaged scholars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Engaged Scholarship
PublisherMichigan State University Press
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9780870139741
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010


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