Making Research Accessible In The Downtown Eastside Initiative

Exchanging knowledge between Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside community and University researchers and students is at the heart of this collaborative initiative.

There’s a perception in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside that the community has been the focus of extensive research that doesn’t seem to make a difference in the day-to-day lives of people who live in the neighborhood. The research takes time and energy but often the results are not shared or are published in journals that require paid access. The Making Research Accessible initiative (MRAi) is an initiative trying to improve this situation.


Initiative Goals

  • To increase the accessibility and impact of research by providing easier online access to information about the DTES
  • To identify community-generated materials (such as program reports, research and evaluation documents, and organizational histories) and increase their availability in and beyond the DTES.
  • To create opportunities for community organization, community members, researchers, students, and others to share information and learn from one another.

One of its first projects is the Downtown Eastside Research Access Portal (DTES RAP), an easy-to-use, public, online portal designed to improve access to academic research related to the Downtown Eastside, as well as community-generated research and reports.

Partnering on this initiative is an example of the UBC Library’s strategic vision to be an influential research library, leading and partnering with university and communities in the creation, stewardship, exploration and discovery of knowledge.

It is a project that:

  • Advances open scholarship and demonstrates UBC’s commitment to open access
  • Helps the library understand how to steward a collection in a way that aligns with the needs of a marginalized community
  • Makes collections easier to discover, access and use

The MRAi also embodies the broad goals of the UBC Strategic Plan. It is an innovative project designed to make research more inclusive and is a collaboration between university units in consultation with other universities, local libraries and communities.

It is the result of a collaborative, inter-disciplinary approach between university departments and external groups. Specifically, it is a partnership between the UBC Learning Exchange and the UBC Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre with input from the UBC Office of Community Engagement, the UBC Knowledge Exchange Unit, UBC’s School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies (iSchool), Simon Fraser University Library, and the Vancouver Public Library. It was built and tested in consultation with DTES community organizations and residents.

Read more about the MRAi’s goals and guiding principles here.