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We are committed to:
read our 2020 impact report
Since 2016, the Research Shop has supported 191 volunteers from all six faculties to complete 44 real-world projects for the Hamilton community. The program is the first of its kind among Canada’s U15 universities, and since its founding has developed scoping, project management, training, and monitoring infrastructure that supports high-quality experiential learning opportunities for students.
Our report provides a summary of the impact of the McMaster Research Shop pilot program. As the report demonstrates, the Research Shop is well-positioned to be a flagship community-engaged experiential learning program at the university and could support capacity-building among other co-curricular groups and experiential learning initiatives on campus. Focusing on the most recent phase of the pilot since it was placed in the Office of Community Engagement (OCE) by the Provost in 2017, the report summarizes impacts, successes, and lessons learned as program foundations have been developed in support of the University’s goals.
what our volunteer research associates have said
“The Research Shop was a wonderful experience as it helped me to build on knowledge and skills gained during school, interact with many individuals, learn about a new research topic, and provide something which is useful to the community partner.”
“The Research Shop was a wonderful experience as it helped me to build on knowledge and skills gained during school, interact with many different individuals, learn about a new research topic, and provide something which is useful to the community partner.”
“I had a great experience… I would love to be involved again, I learned so much about the specific topic and I learned so much from my teammates!”
“I learned how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders including community organizations and academia … It was important experiential learning for me to see and participate in resolving conflicting expectations between what the community partner envisioned and what was methodologically sound for a research synthesis.”
what our community partners have said
‘The Research Shop met our need to have an organized way of presenting all of the benefits of this project to potential stakeholders.’ – Alexandra Brodka, Hamilton-Burlington Trails Council
‘This report will be distributed widely in the employment and training community in Hamilton.’ – Judy Travis, Workforce Planning Hamilton
A Research Shop project typically leads to a plain-language report (10-20 pages) prepared by a team of student researchers in response to your organization’s research question. Reports may include:
- A review of academic publications and/ or other online material;
- A scan of existing practices and initiatives;
- Results from questionnaires, interviews, and/or focus groups with identified service users, stakeholders or experts;
- Recommendations based on evidence;
- Materials to help you communicate your findings (e.g., infographics, pamphlets).
Research Shop projects are intended to help you and your organization make better decisions, improve your programming, and provide you with the evidence you need to apply for funding, support advocacy, and raise awareness.
Want to work with us? The first thing you’ll need to do is submit a research request with details about your project including its purpose, audience, and timeline. Next, Research Shop staff will contact you to learn more about the project and opportunities for collaboration. The Research Shop works on a semester-based schedule; projects can begin in September, January, or May.
Projects are considered when:
- We have student volunteers with the necessary interest and expertise;
- The project can be feasibly completed within an academic semester;
- The project stands to benefit the community and to offer a meaningful learning opportunity for volunteers.
Review examples of past projects to see the type what kind of requests we typically take on.
We work hard to scope projects with our community partners that meets their needs and provides volunteers with meaningful experiences. We aim to meet as many project requests as possible while providing quality supervision to volunteer teams.
If selected, our students will work over the course of an academic semester to gather information and write your report (or other deliverable that meets your needs). Depending on the scope of the project, some deliverables can be provided earlier within a semester, or extending into the next.
Dates listed above are to volunteer for the upcoming semester. We review all applications on the 15th of the month before the semester starts. Research Shop Staff hire Team Leads and recruit volunteers, matching them with projects that interest them.
Frequently Asked Questions About Volunteering
- Working with a Team Lead and in small teams over the course of an academic semester (volunteering an average of 5 hours/week),
- Attending weekly (or bi-weekly) team meetings,
- Conducting research,
- Co-authoring your team’s research report.
- Work with colleagues from across disciplines,
- Make connections with community organizations in Hamilton,
- Learn firsthand about the challenges facing today’s public and non-profit organizations,
- Translate your academic training to solve practical, pressing issues
- Build your CV and portfolio,
- Receive a statement of professional learning in the form of a reference letter or certificate.
- At minimum, Research Associates must have completed the third year of a Bachelor’s degree.
- Some research experience is preferred, such as the ability to locate and evaluate secondary sources, sound knowledge of quantitative and/or qualitative methods, and/or the ability to synthesize complex information.
- Strong professional skills including the ability to work independently and in teams, meet deadlines, communicate effectively over email, and manage time efficiently.
- Strong interpersonal skills including the ability to ask questions and give and receive critical feedback.
- Strong writing skills are an asset.
We look forward to working with you. Before submitting your application, please review our Memorandum of Understanding for Research Associates that provide more details about the commitments and responsibilities involved in the volunteer position.
Team Leads are hired employees who are current Masters or PhD students who:
- Coordinate a team of 4 research associates over the course of 16 weeks (volunteering an average of 5 hours/week),
- Schedule and chair weekly (or bi-weekly) team meetings,
- Liaise with the team’s community partner,
- Act as first author of the team’s research report and coordinate contributions from team members,
- Maintain regular communication with Research Shop staff.
Information Box Group
Information Box Group
Good Shepherd Women’s Centre
Review of literature to identify best practices and service delivery models to provide emergency shelter services to transgendered and non-binary people.
Hamilton Students for Justice
Environmental scan of community-led groups and initiatives advocating for the safety and well-being of Black and racialized students in Canadian public secondary schools.
Mixed-methods research (literature review + key informant interviews) to identify key principles and practices of a climate justice approach to non-profit operations and governance.
Understanding the Needs and Concerns of Communities Affected by Hate in Hamilton
Abstract: The McMaster Research Shop partnered with the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion to consult communities affected by hate crimes in Hamilton on the development of an online hate crime reporting database as an alternative to reporting to police. This report is a summary of the findings from focus groups.
Publisher: Prepared by the McMaster Research Shop for Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion
Authors: Sultan, Zenia; Kovacevic, Dusan; MacDonald, Kyle; Li, Megan; Gao, Zizheng.
A Guide to Inclusive and Meaningful Research with Hamilton Newcomers
Abstract: HIPC and its members are regularly approached by researchers from local and regional post-secondary institutions to assist with recruiting newcomers for their studies. Research, when done well, can lead to policy changes, new programs or services, and other opportunities to improve settlement and integration for Hamilton’s newcomer communities. However, when approached with limited cultural awareness, insensitivity to lived experiences, or unrealistic expectations, research with newcomers can unintentionally be harmful to or unpleasant for those involved. Many newcomers face barriers in their settlement experiences, often in the form of limited work experience, unrecognized job credentials and poor language proficiency. Therefore, it is important the research community works to remove these as opposed to reinforces them. To help prepare prospective researchers for their interactions with the newcomer community and service providers, HIPC has collaborated with the McMaster Research Shop to create this guide. We draw inspiration from similar guides created for communities experiencing frequent researcher-newcomer interactions, such as Vancouver’s “Research 101: A Manifesto for Ethical Research in the Downtown Eastside.” Our goal was to gather local perspectives on how researchers can treat newcomer communities with the respect and decency they deserve, and how the research process be improved for those involved.
Publisher: Prepared by the McMaster Research Shop for Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council
Authors: Karim, Fairuz; Ali, Abdullah; Rajsekar, Thivishah; Nicholson, Emma; Gravely, Evan.
Recommendations for designing supportive housing for women and gender-diverse individuals Learn More
Prepared by the McMaster Research Shop for Mary-Elizabeth Vaccaro and Jennie Vengris (McMaster School of Social Work)
Recommendations for designing supportive housing for women and gender-diverse individuals
Abstract: The design of a building or space can have an impact on our quality of life. The purpose of this report is to provide recommendations to building developers on the built form of supportive housing designed for women and gender-diverse individuals. A literature review was conducted to inform the policy-to-practice recommendations found in this report. The literature review gathered the available theoretical considerations and practices of various supportive housing models and other developers. The findings encourage developers to use trauma-informed design and be adaptive to intersectional needs. Housing developers should design spaces that avoid re-traumatizing women and gender-diverse individuals who have trauma associated with institutions, such as hospitals and prisons. Design that incorporates nature and natural materials is one way to make space feel safer for residents. The eight recommendations provided in this report reflect these main three safety and security considerations (i.e., trauma-informed design, intersectional design, and biophilic design).
Publisher: Prepared by the McMaster Research Shop for Mary-Elizabeth Vaccaro and Jennie Vengris (McMaster School of Social Work)
Authors: Denicola, Bri; Corrigan, Tamarah; Froentjes, Anneke; le Fuentes, Anthony; Wu, Kelly.
Investigating the Social Service Needs of Hamilton's Muslim Community: Results from Key Informant Interviews
Abstract: Mishka Social Services (MSS) is a non-profit organization that aims to bridge the gap between current services in Hamilton and the Muslim population’s needs. MSS approached the Office of Community Engagement at McMaster University with an interest in learning about the barriers that the Muslim community faces in Hamilton accessing social services, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted these barriers. The primary goal of this research was to examine the barriers that the Muslim community in Hamilton faces when accessing social services and identify strategies to alleviate these barriers.
Publisher: Prepared by the McMaster Research Shop for Mishka Social Services
Authors: Majid, Umair; Najeeb, Hiba; Lam, Matthew; Sharma, Neha; Mohammad, Sana.
Transforming Democracy: An Environmental Scan of Participatory Budgeting Processes in Canada and Internationally Learn More
Prepared by the McMaster Research Shop for Hamilton Students for Justice (HS4J), formerly know as the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Kids Need Help
Transforming Democracy: An Environmental Scan of Participatory Budgeting Processes in Canada and Internationally
Abstract: This report presents the results of a McMaster Research Shop project for the Hamilton Students for Justice (HS4J), formerly known as the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Kids Need Help. Through this project, a review of participatory budgeting (PB) models and practices was conducted in order to examine existing knowledge, provide information related to best practices and suggest recommendations for community organizing in Hamilton. Research methods for this project include a literature review and an environmental scan. A literature review was conducted in order to examine outcomes related to PB in Canada and internationally. Results identified six models of PB and highlight various outcomes of PB compared to conventional budgeting practices, including the reallocation of budgets to better serve social priorities and the minimization of inequities between communities. Challenges of PB include difficulties with transparency, low levels of participation, and logistics. Three recommendations for best practices were also identified: 1) Include a diverse group of people throughout the PB process; 2) Garner support for PB from city officials; and 3) Establish clear and shared definitions of the rules of PB. Results from our environmental scan of PB practices within Canada and internationally, including the cities of Peterborough, Victoria, Seattle, Paris, and Madrid, identified unique processes and outcomes. In these communities, PB projects improved infrastructure, enhanced community services, and increased civic engagement. Based on our research, we provided three recommendations for HS4J to consider when advocating for the expansion of PB throughout the City of Hamilton: 1) Establish a strong network; 2) Develop a marketing plan to attract and engage residents; and 3) Continue developing a People’s Budget that provides an alternative to the current budget provided by City Council.
Publisher: Prepared by the McMaster Research Shop for Hamilton Students for Justice (HS4J), formerly know as the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Kids Need Help
Authors: Sultan, Zenia; Nadarajah, Abbira; Jammu, Anish; Harris, Sheereen; Pavalagantharajah, Sureka
Nowhere to Go: An Environmental Scan of Outdoor Public Washroom Initiatives in North America
Abstract: COVID-19-related closures of retail and restaurant washroom facilities has led to an increased awareness of the pressing need for free accessible public washrooms, especially for vulnerable and houseless populations. This report provides results of an environmental scan of accessible outdoor public washroom initiatives in North America for the Beasley Neighbourhood Association. It identifies 11 initiatives including their design features, construction and operational costs, cleaning/maintenance considerations, and outcomes. The report also provides recommendations for the Beasley Neighbourhood Association to aid their advocacy for the installation of public washrooms in Hamilton.
Publisher: Prepared by the McMaster Research Shop for the Beasley Neighbourhood Association
Authors: Barranger, Chelsea; Hamid, Marzan; Karim, Fairuz; Khattar, Jayati; Yousuf, Efrah
Speqtrum Check-in Program Evaluation
Abstract: Speqtrum is Hamilton’s only youth-focused LGBTQ2SIA+ organization offering virtual support programming. The purpose of this research was to evaluate Speqtrum’s Check-In program, which aims to support LGBTQ2SIA+ youth by 1) increasing feelings of connection to the LGBTQ2SIA+ community, 2) supporting participants with mental, social, and financial challenges, and 3) reducing their feelings of isolation. A team of McMaster University Research Shop researchers 1) conducted a literature review assessing the need for the Check-In program; 2) analyzed the Check-In program attendance and referral records; 3) distributed a survey with the Check-In program participants (n = 13); and 4) led interviews with Check-In program staff and volunteers (n = 4). The findings suggest Speqtrum’s Check-In program responds to an identified need for more accessible and affordable programming for LGBTQ2SIA+ youth in Hamilton. Moreover, the Check-In program has made a positive impact on increasing youths’ sense of connection to LGBTQ2SIA+ people, increasing youths’ level of support with social, mental health and financial challenges, and decreasing youths’ feelings of isolation. The virtual Check-In program for LGBTQ2SIA+ youth bridged a short-term service gap created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program also reduced the barriers many LGBTQ2SIA+ youth experience in accessing in-person support and services. The accessibility and confidentiality the Check-In program allows Speqtrum to expand their outreach to youths not comfortable or unable to access in-person services. It is for these reasons the Check-In program has value and should seek further funding to sustain the program.
Publisher: Prepared by the McMaster Research Shop for Speqtrum
Authors: Denicola, Bri; Brar, Gurpreet; Dzerounian, Jasmine; Gravely, Evan; Kovacevic, Dusan; Maini, Shubham
Assessing Workforce Recruitment Strategies of Local Hamilton Employers
Abstract: The long-term sustainability of businesses is dependent on their ability to secure a workforce that satisfies their labour demands. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the effectiveness of the current workforce recruitment strategies used by local Hamilton employers. This research used a mixed-methods approach, collecting btoh survey responses (n=24) and conducting follow-up interviews (n=5) with local Hamilton employers regarding their current recruitment strategies and perceived efficacy of those strategies. We found the most common recruitment strategies were online recruitment, secondary and post-secondary school engagement, and employee referral programs. Online recruitment and school engagement strategies were considered to be the most effective, however, employers also identified areas of improvement, such as the need for increased candidate (and community) awareness regarding industry jobs and job advertising that highlights what the job has to offer the candidates. In sum, this study provides insights into the perceptions and preferences of employers in the Greater Hamilton Area on their hiring processes.
Publisher: Prepared by the McMaster Research Shop for the Industry Education Council of Hamilton
Authors: De Melo, Kristen; Hopkins, Erin; Li, Megan; Sharma, Bhanu; Nicholson, Emma
Reviewing the efficacy of community-based treatment for eating disorders
Abstract: Approximately 1-2.9 million people meet the diagnostic criteria for eating disorders (EDs) in Canada. The McMaster Research Shop conducted research on the potential for community-based models to treat individuals experiencing EDs, including its cost-effectiveness and effectiveness in terms of patient outcomes. Results show that hospitalizations and outpatient care for ED cost the healthcare system approximately $58M and $180M – 522M CAD per year (based on data from 2017-2018), respectively. Community-based treatment has the potential to reduce healthcare system costs by using a stepped-care and triage approach to treatment and is on par with and at times superior to conventional treatments for EDs. Given the potential for cost-effectiveness and improved patient outcomes, community-based treatment models are likely to have positive impacts on the Canadian healthcare system.
Publisher: Prepared by the McMaster Research Shop for Body Brave
Authors: Barranger, Chelsea; Marashi, Maryam; Marr, Elizabeth; Sultan, Zenia; Warren, Rachel
Mathstronauts High School Program Needs Assessment
Abstract: Mathstronauts is a non-profit organization that provides experiential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programming and activities to middle school students in Hamilton. Mathstronauts is interested in expanding their programming to include high school students, and the aim of this project was to conduct a needs assessment. The research team conducted an environmental scan of existing STEM programs available to high school students in the Hamilton area as well as surveys with high school students, parents of high school students, and first year STEM professors. Results of this study demonstrate that STEM programming for high school students is needed and of interest to both high school students and parents and identify specific elements of the curriculum that would be useful to include.
Publisher: Prepared by the McMaster Research Shop for Mathstronauts
Authors: Li, Megan; Nicholson, Emma; Ong, Frank; Rai, Sona; Smith, Savanah
Measuring Social Impact in Arts and Cultural Organizations: A Review
Abstract: The primary objective of this research was to review the academic and grey literature to identify lessons, considerations, methods, and approaches for measuring social impact in arts and cultural organizations for the Dundas Valley School of Art (DVSA). We conducted an academic database and grey literature search to identify frameworks, indicators, and other tools for measuring social impact in non-profit organizations including arts and cultural organizations. Based on our findings, we propose a series of recommendations for the DVSA as steps towards measuring their social impact.
Publisher: Prepared by the McMaster Research Shop for the Dundas Valley School of Art
Authors: Majid, Umair; Dzerounian, Jasmine; Pavalagantharajah, Sureka; Hutchison, Haley; Wu, Kelly
Financial Empowerment Programs in Canada: An Environmental Scan
Abstract: The primary objective of this research was to identify and examine the design of financial empowerment programs (FEPs) including the types of services offered and how they are delivered in Canadian municipalities. We conducted an environmental scan for FEPs in Canadian municipalities using an internet search and phone and email correspondence with programs and discovered 30 programs. Common services provided by the FEPs include financial literacy workshops, one-on-one coaching, and tax clinics. Innovative FEP services include matched savings programs, online resources, Indigenous services, and financial compensation or reimbursement. For the few FEPs that stated how they were funded, their primary sources were federal or provincial government grants, grants from Canadian banks, community foundations, local libraries, as well as donations from benefactors and fundraising campaigns. In terms of impact, FEPs that have evaluated their services found that individuals were more likely to feel in control, motivated, and confident in their finances after accessing their services. Well-resourced initiatives can have a wide reach—for instance, the Immigrant Education Society in Calgary has reached over 250,000 individuals with their services. Based on these findings, we propose three recommendations for the HTH to consider as steps towards developing their FEP: (1) Use diverse methods to reach diverse populations, (2) Organize a community of practice in Hamilton, (3) Become a financial empowerment champion for Hamilton.
Publisher: Prepared by the McMaster Research Shop for the Social Planning and Research Council
Author: Majid, Umair; Levesque, Justine; Amjad, Sameen; McDougall, Hannah; Shoukry, Elian.
ACHIEVES Program Evaluation
Abstract: ACHIEVES is a twelve-week program run by the John Howard Society of Hamilton, Burlington & Area for youth experiencing challenges with behaviour and social skills. The program offers engaging activities related to healthy relationships, decision-making, conflict resolution, anger management, and healthy social media use. This project aims to evaluate the intended outcomes of the program (assisting with the transition to high school, increasing soft skill development and sense of belonging, reducing behavioural issues and increasing awareness of post-secondary pathways). The information gathered in this report was intended to help John Howard better understand what is going well in their program and what could use improvement. The research team conducted focus groups with current ACHIEVES program participants, interviews with the ACHIEVES program staff and management, and analyzed surveys completed by past participants, as well as their parents and teachers, to obtain this information.
Publisher: Prepared by the McMaster Research Shop for the John Howard Society of Hamilton, Burlington & Area
Authors: Abid, Rabi; Miller, Alanna; Najeeb, Hiba; Pavalagantharajah, Sureka; Smith, Savanah; van der Jagt, Astara
Mobility Lab Evaluation: Striving for Collective Impact
Abstract: The McMaster Research Shop prepared this report for the members of the Mobility Lab to gauge the impact of their activities to date and to see how they can strengthen their collective impact. Drawing from interviews with community partners involved with the Mobility Lab and a brief literature review on the collective impact model, we have reported information relating to: • The collective impact model (theory) • Mobility lab partner role and involvement • Mobility lab partner goals • Application of the collective impact model • Future Directions for the Mobility lab • Recommendations
Publisher: Prepared by the McMaster Research Shop for Mobility Lab
Author: Dutta, Pallavi.