Biosphere reserves are ideal places
to conduct research because research is needed and
residents are usually willing to cooperate if the
research is beneficial to their community. When you are
planning to do research in a biosphere reserve, it is
important to keep the ‘rights of the studied’ (a term
coined by Peter Kingsmill of the Redberry Lake biosphere
reserve) in mind.
Here are some ideas to think about
as you get started. If you have more ideas, please send
them to us and we will add them.
Be respectful of people’s time. Rural
residents often juggle multiple responsibilities as
volunteers to create a vibrant community to live in. (A
teacher and parent may also be a soccer coach who sits
on the Regional Parks and biosphere reserve boards,
helps put on the weekly Bingo night, and organizes
several local festivals throughout the year.)So when you
ask for people’s time, be flexible and willing to work
around their schedule. And it never hurts to buy them
coffee and send them a thank you note either!
Ask the biosphere reserve committee if you
may propose your research to ascertain whether you
research can be useful, what you need to do for data
collection to be feasible, and what the community
benefits and outcomes might be. Would they like you to
make a presentation at one of their meetings? Should
you introduce yourself and your research to the local
city councils? Who should you approach and how?
Be open to changing your research design,
or even questions that you will address, to make a
meaningful contribution to community needs.
One way you may find useful for
introducing yourself and asking for feedback is to
create a Research Factsheet.
Factsheet is a document that introduces you are, what
you are doing in the community, and how you plan to
carry out your project that invites people to engage in
Here is a
template for designing your own one-page research
is to write up a summary of your research on one page
that is easily accessible by the general public. I used
this sheet as a calling card and posted it on public and
school bulletins to make myself and my research known,
so that by the time it came for me to ask people for
interviews they might have seen my picture already and
had a sense of who I was and what I was doing. Or, if
they didn’t, I had something to give them!
By reaching out to
people, both you as the researcher and community members
benefit because residents are able to identify what you
want to do, and then they can decide whether or not they
can help you. Or, if they cannot help you, they may
just be interested in your results. Either way, you as a
researcher and residents benefit.
biosphere reserves have developed their own protocols
for research being conducted in their region: