Information Box Group
We are committed to:
Helping organizations make research-informed decisions and do research-grounded advocacy
Providing students with experience in collaborative research that responds to practical questions
Fostering a spirit of creativity, mutual learning, openness, and trust
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.
Information Box Group
Community partners submit a research request and provide us with details of the proposed project, including the purpose, audience, and timeline
Research Shop staff meet with the community partner to refine a research question and identify learning opportunities for students
Research Shop staff recruit volunteers and match students with relevant experience with projects that interest them
Student teams supervised by Research Shop staff carry out the research within one academic semester (Fall, Winter, Spring)
We create a 10-20 page plain-language report or other deliverable for the community partner that answers the research question
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.