Donald Stokes developed a paradigm that categorizes research into three quadrants based on two dimensions: the pursuit of basic understanding and consideration of utility. His ultimate goal was to create synergy between science and technology for economic advancement. Academics working on basic research fall into the Bohr quadrant; engineers fall into Edison’s quadrant of applied research. Pasteur’s quadrant, use-inspired basic research, is largely occupied by government agencies and societal input into setting their research priorities is indirect. Community labs are organizations that enable community members to perform research. Yet their utility as scientific organizations is unclear; understanding where they fall within the quadrant paradigm may enable their role to be better defined and may help their contributions to the scientific endeavor to be more fully realized. We use interviews with participants, review of literature, and review of lab and project websites to understand the nature of community lab projects and participants’ motivations. We show that the role of community labs falls most frequently into Pasteur’s quadrant. Community labs’ ability to integrate diverse expertise, pivot between basic and applied work quickly, support collaboration, and focus on local priorities makes them valuable additions to this quadrant and to the scientific research community.
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