As far back as 2003, AIVL (the national peer-based drug users’ organisation in Australia) published its “National Statement on Ethical Issues in Research Involving Illicit/Injecting Drug Users” with the aim of asserting the role of peers in all aspects of the research process and in identifying and setting ethical standards for research practice. This highly regarded and well-cited paper is still the only guidance document of its kind globally. Interest in peer-based approaches continued with “Nothing About Us Without Us – Greater, Meaningful Involvement of People Who Use Illegal Drugs: A Public Health, Ethical, and Human Rights Imperative - International Edition” in 2008, which also sought to foreground the role and importance of peer-based approaches in all areas of harm reduction policy and practice including in research. Despite this early work, it is really only in the last 10 years that there has been a significant international expansion of interest and activity in relation to peer-based research. Peer involvement in research has different names and can take many forms. For example, peers may lead on studies or collaborate with others on studies as partners. When done well, peer involvement can benefit research in many ways. When done badly, it can lead to tokenism and even exploitation.
It is in this context that we are promoting this call for papers for a special issue of the Harm Reduction Journal. The journal is interested in receiving research reports based on both peer-led and collaborative research projects; methodological articles explaining how peer-based research was undertaken, including problems encountered, and lessons learned; review or historical articles on peer involvement in research; and commentaries, for example on terminology or personal experience of peer involvement in designing and conducting studies, or writing up and disseminating research findings. For the purposes of this special issue, we are really only interested in reports or evaluations of peer-led interventions if peers have been part of the research/evaluation team and are authors on the article submitted.