It is becoming widely recognised that research can be WEIRD - Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, Democratic (Henrich, Heine and Norenzayan, 2010). This means that it has been biased towards a white, western, middle class outlook and/or subject-matter. However, it is important to remember that most higher education research is based on academic integrity, so not all research needs to be treated with suspicion. Please see the section on Academic Integrity.
Across the globe, steps are now being taken to address this. Research has been done on equality, diversity and inclusion, and many educational institutions and other organisations are implementing their own policies and plans to move forward.
Being aware of different theories can help you formulate strategies to liberate your own research from the risk of bias.
Consider the research theories below and think about how research might differ depending on who carries it out. Many of these theories focus through a lens of race, so it is important that you think about equality, diversity and inclusion in terms of all minority groups, whether based on ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, or identity. There are some subject areas where the theories and strategies outlined below are already known and in use, such as in social work.
Here are some practical suggestions on how you might ensure your own research can be liberated from bias and ensure your research is inclusive to a wide variety of authors who are studying all the communities that make up our entire population.
Henrich, J., Heine, S. and Norenzayan, A. (2010) ‘Most people are not WEIRD’, Nature, 466(7302), pp. 29–29. doi: 10.1038/466029a.