Objective: Investigator-driven research and the use of peer review are contentious in community-based research and are particularly problematic in Indigenous research. In this project, we conducted a qualitative study among stakeholders in an Australian Aboriginal majority-controlled research-funding organisation to examine the research funding process.

Methods: A steering group guided the project and contributed to the research findings. In-depth interviews (n=18) with stakeholders in the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health were conducted to canvass views on the research funding process and options for alternate processes. A discussion document, supported by an extensive literature review, was provided prior to interview. This research was an iterative process where the discussion document and interview schedule were revised as the research findings informed the project.

Findings: Participants overwhelmingly endorsed a move to a more collaborative research culture, although the form the culture might take varied. Suggested elements included involvement of grant funding bodies as brokers in building collaborative networks and the substitution of named ‘critical friends’ for blinded peer review. Barriers to changing the research culture to a more collaborative model were described.

Conclusions and Implications: A collaborative structure with targeted project development would permit redistribution of the time and effort (previously expended on peer review) into research development and would increase community participation in decision-making in the research funding process.