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Abstract

There is a growing number of research units and alliances whose purpose is to link researchers and community partner groups. Little has been published about the benefits of these research organizations, the characteristics that assist them to function, and how they evolve over time. This article describes the findings of a survey of 13 investigators and research coordinators from CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, a multidisciplinary research unit founded in 1989. The article describes this group’s perceptions of CanChild as an organization, including major helpful factors, lessons learned, and changes over time to the Centre’s approach to research. The purpose of this paper is to provide information to researchers, managers, and funders about the benefits of community-linked research units. The study themes, revealed through qualitative methods, indicate the importance of three overarching aspects that summarize helpful organizational factors of a community-linked research unit: awareness of environmental context, strong commitment of team members, and an emphasis on internal and external communication activities. The findings demonstrate the collaborative advantages of community-linked research partnerships with respect to the cross-pollination of ideas and approaches, sophistication in conceptualization of research studies, smoother coordination of activities, and the development of innovative concepts and products

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