Community, Equity & Noise: Top-Down Research Can Hurt

The Noise project aims to bridge the disconnect with scientific institutions and communities. It attempts to collaborate in an equitable, egalitarian, respectful way. The Noise project wants to create equitable community research.

Community – People with shared experiences, sense of history, and belonging.

Typically, institutions working with communities find it difficult to engage with the people living within those communities due to their top-down approach to research. Conducting community-based research with a hierarchical structure to uncover systems of inequality only perpetuates the system that was created with that same structure. The Noise Project looks to not only critique that top-down approach to research, but also provide a more equitable, equal and fair approach to community research. In its purest form, this research is community led, and not hierarchical.

Community led research.. led by the community that is being researched.

When scientific institutions enter a new, unresearched area, it is important to remember that there are whole communities made up of individuals that live in these research zones every day. They know the nature and material better than any outside source. These communities are a key element to formulating and quantifying the most accurate community based research. Their lived experiences, day to day lives and challenges are to be considered in community-based research, because these elements make up the community. Though these may not always be physical, tangible sets of data, these elements are oftentimes overlooked for elements that can be calculated and quantified. 

Neglecting to take lived experiences and challenges into consideration, more often than not, creates a cycle of inequitable, one-sided and misguided conclusions conceived by the the top of the pyramid, with little consideration of the middle and bottom of said pyramid. Science is about being thorough, every detail matters, every detail contributes to the communities we work with. But when these details are discarded, the real lived experiences and struggles these communities face are also discarded. And so the cycle continues. 

Communities deserve to not be treated as Guinea Pigs, being poked, prodded and tested on or with without humanity. Communities deserve to be treated as human beings living, contributing and collaborating with other human beings in the pursuit of knowledge in the name of science. Their contributions are paramount to all community based research. And not only are their contributions important, but are appreciated and valued as much as anyone else’s.

The Noise project aims to give these communities a voice, where oftentimes, they are drowned out by the noise of industry condescension. The Noise project aims to allot these communities power that has been denied to them. The power to be autonomous, the power to speak their truths, the power to be treated with respect and integrity.