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Towards a More Collaborative Political Science: A Partnership Approach

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 April 2017

Nicole Goodman*
University of Toronto
Karen Bird*
McMaster University
Chelsea Gabel*
McMaster University
Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3K7, Canada, email:
Department of Political Science, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4M4, Canada, email:
Indigenous Studies Program and Department of Health Aging & Society, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4M4, Canada, email:


The research model that has dominated the discipline of political science in Canada is based on a top-down approach that defines and finds solutions to problems as researchers see them, and diminishes the real world concerns of social and political actors. Advocating a more collaborative political science, we argue for a partnership approach that engages those actors in the research process, including problem definition, research design, analysis and knowledge dissemination. This inclusion sharpens the focus of the research and produces more contextually valid and socially valuable knowledge. We draw upon our research experience working with Indigenous communities in Canada to illustrate the value of this approach, and carry out a review of partnership-based research published in The Canadian Journal of Political Science. We find little evidence of partnership-based research in our flagship journal and discuss the implications for the future of our field.


Le modèle de recherche qui a dominé la discipline de la science politique au Canada se fonde sur une approche descendante qui définit et apporte des solutions aux problèmes tels que les chercheurs les perçoivent et atténue les préoccupations réelles des acteurs sociaux et politiques. Préconisant une science politique plus axée sur la collaboration, nous prônons une approche partenariale qui associe ces acteurs dans le processus de recherche ainsi que dans la définition du problème, la conception de la recherche, l’analyse et la diffusion des connaissances. Cette inclusion permet de mieux cibler la recherche et de produire une connaissance plus valable aussi bien sur le plan contextuel que social. Nous nous fondons sur notre expérience de travail avec les communautés autochtones au Canada pour illustrer la valeur de cette approche et passer en revue la recherche partenariale publiée dans la Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique. Nous trouvons peu de preuves des recherches partenariales dans notre publication phare et examinons les répercussions pour l’avenir de notre domaine.

Research Article
Copyright © Canadian Political Science Association (l'Association canadienne de science politique) and/et la Société québécoise de science politique 2017 

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