Participatory Research and Indigenous Leadership in Research Collaboration Team

Supporting meaningful and equitable collaborations among Arctic Indigenous communities and researchers

Scope of Activities

Indigenous Peoples have been part of the Arctic region for millennia and their histories, cultures, and knowledge are critical to understanding Arctic systems. federally funded research efforts, however, have had varying levels of success (or failure) in regularly, sufficiently, and ethically including Arctic peoples. Indigenous Peoples deserve respect from researchers entering their communities, lands, and societies and should have the opportunity to benefit from the research as well as engage in meaningful consultation. IARPC is committed to cultivating participatory research with Arctic communities and populations and Indigenous leadership in research as a foundational activity across all four priority areas. While there are multiple types of leadership in research, the Arctic Research Plan 2022-2026 specifically calls Indigenous leadership to the forefront to address the ongoing ethically problematic lack of inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in research.

Participatory research ensures important research ideals are followed, such as free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC), and that rights of Indigenous communities to self-determination, sovereignty, and data sovereignty are observed. Participatory research also supports asset-based research and co-production of knowledge with the inclusion of Indigenous Knowledge or non-Indigenous place-based knowledge to the amount the community wants to participate. Indigenous leadership means leadership in research by Indigenous Peoples, entities, groups, and communities, and needs to be developed by Indigenous Peoples in this role.

Participatory research and Indigenous leadership in research is for all types of research, not solely for social science research or for research with Indigenous Peoples. IARPC recognizes that different forms of participation and Indigenous leadership in research may occur based on what a community desires, from full co-production which involves developing the research questions with the community and working through all stages of the research process with them, to more limited participation, such as a researcher discussing mutually beneficial research goals with community representatives before applying for a grant or initiating a project.

Thus, IARPC acknowledges that defining and supporting participatory and Indigenous leadership in research in the Arctic is a process that will evolve based on continued feedback from and in partnership with those living in the Arctic. Participatory research may look different with each project and in each Arctic region or community. IARPC will therefore support collaborations to implement participatory and Indigenous leadership in research and focus on the following objectives to inform federal policy, co-management actions, community priorities, and decision-making through more equitable frameworks:

  • Increasing Capacity for Participatory and Indigenous Leadership in Research: IARPC will host discussions about ongoing federal research projects and funding opportunities to build capacity for meaningful participatory research and Indigenous leadership in research. Similarly, IARPC will promote actions to identify ways that federal administrative structures can be adapted or changed to support this objective. IARPC will seek opportunities to support the development or expansion of community-driven programs, liaison offices, and existing resources for researchers on how to engage with community and Indigenous organizations already in place.
  • Enabling Communication and Coordination: IARPC will continue to support communication and coordination, including existing local and regional venues, between federal agencies and Indigenous and rural Arctic communities to ensure active participation and long-term engagement, and so that plans and outcomes of federal research programs are communicated appropriately. IARPC will work with and make researchers aware of existing Indigenous organizations, advisory committees, and co-management councils that focus on food security, community infrastructure, health and well-being, Indigenous practices, and species and ecosystems management. IARPC will also advance new venues where research activities can be informed by Indigenous Knowledge and the needs of Indigenous communities.
  • Sustaining Engagement and Building Trust: Successful partnerships rely on respect, trust, early and ongoing collaboration, sustained engagement, communication and coordination, and multigenerational participation. IARPC will continue to invest in activities that build trust among federal agencies, researchers, Arctic residents, Indigenous Peoples, and Tribal Nations to achieve sustainable outcomes.
  • Putting the IARPC Principles for Conducting Research in the Arctic into Practice: IARPC remains committed to the Principles for Conducting Research in the Arctic, which provides a framework for building trust, effective communication, and respecting Indigenous Peoples, cultures, and residents of the Arctic. IARPC will continue to promote the use of these principles and continue discussions on how Arctic residents and researchers can implement or revise them to enable participatory research.

Team Leaders

Nicole M. Herman-Mercer
USGS - Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center

Cana Uluak Itchuaqiyaq
Virginia Tech

Liam Frink
NSF OPP Arctic Social Science Program

Deliverables from the Arctic Research Plan

1.2 Address emerging threats to food safety and access, as well as food and nutrition security in the Arctic, through research that addresses how climate and environmental change is affecting the abundance, accessibility, and use of traditional foods and traditional ways of life.

  • 1.2.7 Fund and conduct research, and produce a report, on changes in abundance and distribution of migratory caribou in Arctic Alaska.

2.2 Observe, understand, predict, and project Arctic ecosystem change and its impacts on humans and the entire Earth system.

  • 2.2.7 Produce and support publications and data products enhancing understanding of the linkages among marine species, oceanographic and sea ice conditions, and climate change. Specifically improve understanding of mechanisms that affect trends in trophic interactions, abundance, distribution, vital rates, and behavior.

4.1 Summarize currently available data and information requirements associated with hazard and risk mitigation, adaptation, and response efforts. Synthesize community-led activities and information to identify potential needs for future efforts.

  • 4.1.2 Share findings of deliverable 4.1.1 as a means (1) to spur additional research and science communication aimed at addressing unmet needs for planning, prevention, response, and recovery and (2) to inform time-sensitive decision-making and planning processes.

DATA 1 Encourage and implement FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) and CARE (Collective benefit, Authority to control, Responsibility, and Ethics) data management principles in the Arctic.

  • DATA 1.1 Identify verified points of contact (e.g., agency champions, data practitioners, Arctic residents, Indigenous organizations) and their areas of expertise and interests for working with the data team on exploring and implementing FAIR and CARE in Arctic data management. As part of developing the points of contact, identify and track representation across many axes of diversity (demographics, disciplines/sectors, IARPC experience, career stage, and others) to ensure a diverse and representative group of contributors. The data team will check in with these groups regularly to ensure the points of contact are up to date.
  • DATA 1.2 Data 1.2 In order to build community buy-in and promote sustained efforts, develop and revisit and update terms of reference which articulate Biennial Implementation Plan Data Management roles, activities, and metrics.
  • DATA 1.3 Based on input from engagement activities, develop and update centralized documentation of thematic areas of interest, ongoing activities, and key documents and resources that can inform deliverables and future Biennial Implementation Plans.
  • DATA 1.4 Convene quarterly seminars, discussions, and training on FAIR and CARE data management in the Arctic. Ensure a diverse group of presenters and contributors are represented in these activities.
  • DATA 1.5 Develop a common format and structure (e.g., questions, prompts) for team meetings to help elicit and articulate perspectives on all aspects of FAIR and CARE to help work towards the community summary/synthesis products below.
  • DATA 1.6 Develop a summary document of perspectives on implementing FAIR and CARE in Arctic contexts.
  • DATA 1.7 Based on the summaries mentioned in DATA 1.6, develop concise (i.e., one-pager) public-facing documents on data management considerations to align with FAIR and CARE principles.

MOMP 3 Support coordination and engagement with Federal, international, and non-Federal partners who are conducting monitoring, observing, modeling, and prediction of the Arctic.

  • MOMP 3.2 Coordinate communication of information about field activities to Alaska communities where the research is being conducted through the research expedition vessel status tracker and spring and fall reports on research season activities.

MOMP 4 Support best practices in field observations and modeling.

  • MOMP 4.2 In coordination with the IARPC Diversity and Inclusion Community of Practice and the Participatory Research and Indigenous Leadership in Research Foundational Activity, promote and support best practices for improving diversity and inclusion in Arctic monitoring, observing, modeling, and prediction efforts, including identifying pathways to support Indigenous co-leadership of activities.

PILR 2 Engage Arctic communities and individuals in research in a way that is meaningful to them.

  • PILR 2.1 Create a training toolkit for scientists that can be self-guided and used as needed. Topics may include cross-cultural communication, consultation, participatory research, Indigenous Knowledge, overview of Indigenous culture groups, formal agreements, and how to contract and consult with Indigenous companies and individuals.


To be added in 2023.