About CBeR

What is Community-based Empirical Research?

Faculty and students  conduct research in their local community for many reasons. In research about communities, faculty and students ask questions and get answers by collecting information from a community’s residents, business owners, nonprofit organizations, and other constituents.

For example, health researchers who are interested in documenting socioeconomic status (SES) differences in smoking rates may obtain smoking data from community residents and compare smoking rates of residents who differ in SES.  Community members might be interested in the outcomes of such studies, but their interest is secondary to academic goals.

With community-based research, however, local constituents’ interests are primary. When we carry out community-based research, it is for the community – on behalf of a community that has requested it. The questions to be investigated come first and foremost from members of the community – its civic groups and associations, nonprofit agencies that serve residents, and so forth.


A health clinic wonders whether there is enough demand to justify offering a smoking cessation program to the community. The clinic asks researchers at Dickinson to design, carry out, and report results of a community assessment of the need for smoking cessation services. These researchers work with the clinic to develop survey or interview questions, administer these to representative samples of local residents, and tally the resulting data.

Purpose of the CBeR initiative

 Dickinson College’s initiative for community-based empirical research (CBeR) identifies research partnership opportunities. It provides a central source where local agencies can direct inquiries about their research needs, and college faculty can find opportunities for their students to become involved in consequential research projects.

How working with us can benefit your organization

Dickinson’s community-based research initiative can help your organization match its research and information needs with the skills and interests of Dickinson faculty and students.

Dickinson CBeR resources