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This paper offers case studies from two Irish Higher Education Institutions on the benefits and challenges of using on-line databases and application processes to recruit students to community-engaged research projects. We briefly introduce the principles of Community-Based Research (CBR), showing how this pedagogy allows students to collaborate with underserved community partners and not-for-profit organisations on real-life research projects, preparing them for the workplace, and enhancing their college experience. Staff in University College Cork (UCC) and Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) use digital resources to offer students the opportunity to browse live research topics, suggested to us by communities, on our websites, along with application forms and process maps for community-based research projects. In this paper we draw on our respective years’ experience of coordinating community-based research (also known as science shop) programmes in DIT (Students Learning With Communities – SLWC – http://www.communitylinks.ie/slwc) and UCC (Community and Academic Research Links – CARL - http://carl.ucc.ie). We outline the critical success factors of this way of working, which will be of interest to staff, students, and community partners working in this area. Community-engaged learning (or service-learning) is recommended in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 (Hunt 2011). We will conclude the paper with a brief discussion of the use of digital resources and the publication of student research reports in the light of the open access to research movement.
Bates, C. and Burns, K. (2012) 'Community-engaged student research: online resources, real world impact', in Quinn, A. M., Bruen, C., Allen, M., Dundon, A. and Diggins, Y. (eds.), The Digital Learning Revolution in Ireland: Case Studies from the National Learning Resources Service, Cambridge, Cambridge Scholars Publishing.