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Liberating your research: Practical search tips for finding articles to liberate your research

Liberating your research

Practical search tips for finding articles to Liberate your research

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         Source: Fauxels 
Keywords, terms and phrases  
When conducting research it is important to remember that terminologies evolve over time and keywords take on different meanings. You can see this in other fields, such as sexual orientation or gender identity. In fact, terminology in the LGBTQ+ community has expanded rapidly. See Stonewall’s List of LGBTQ+ Terms. However, on this page, we are using the race lens to illustrate this point. For example, the keyword African generally finds research on African Americans or Africans. Consider also using African Caribbean and/or Black. Also look out for new terminology, such as global majority or bipoc (black indigenous people of colour).  
Some terminology may have become contentious or obsolete, or even offensive, over time, and some may seem similar, but actually have different meanings. Take a look at the terminology below: 
  • BME: Black and Minority Ethnic is now an historical term superseded by BAME.
  • BAME: Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic. This term is commonly used in literature and research around race, but is becoming increasingly unpopular. There have been many calls for it not to be used at all. As with BME, it groups together different racial groups who experience racism differently and includes people who are an ethnic minority in this country but identify as White.  
  • Ethnic minority/ Minority ethnic: People whose ethnic group is in a minority in a country. It includes people of all skin colours.  
  • People/Person of Colour: A collective term for anyone who identifies as non-white.  
  • Global majority: A collective term which refers to people who identify as Black, Brown, African, Caribbean, Asian, Arab or Dual Heritage, indigenous to the global south, or racialised as ethnic minorities. These groups combined represent approximately 80% of the global population and are therefore the global majority (Stimpson, 2021). 
Other terms: indigenous people, marginal voices. 

Keywords for searching for research methodology 

You may also be looking for articles that have applied methodologies or theories. Examples in race:  
Critical race theory (CRT); 
White privilege; 
White male privilege.   
It may also help to search on words such as the ones below, which would apply to any minority grouping: 
It’s often necessary to use multiple keywords to find as much of the research as you can.    
Expand your research citations
Adapted from Craven (2021, cited in Hunt and Reigelman, 2021):
  • Check out how authors self-identify. Google them.
  • Check your citations - make a spreadsheet to identify where you are getting your citations from.
  • Be explicit that citing marginalised or ‘outsider’ groups is not an add-on. ‘Cite because their scholarship is valuable and central’.
  • Read widely, critically, and counter the observed injustices or unfairness
  • Look outside of academic books and articles (history of marginalised or ‘outsider’ groups may sit outside academic education or be excluded from those areas).
  • Consult research found in non-Western journals/authored by non-Westerners.
  • Look at research reports by specialist organisations and at research published by researchers active in anti-racist programmes, or whose research identify inequalities or injustice and acknowledge the history and experiences and those of the black, marginalised or other outside groups being researched.
  • Check out professional organisations to find scholars.
Look for grey literature
Scholarly/academic/peer-reviewed research, even with strict research standards, is often published by white, western researchers, even when that research may be on race or inequalities. Commercial publishing often comes with biases. So what can you do to make sure you're including published research that is less likely to be affected by these biases, and is more likely to be authored by a wider variety of researchers, and studying a wider segment of the population?
You can refer to a mixture of academic/scholarly/peer-reviewed research and grey literature. Grey literature describes a wide range of different types of information not found in the traditional publishing arena and rarely indexed in the databases you would normally use to find research articles. It includes research articles that still follow research standards, but are not confined to commercial publishers. Some of the other types of sources grey literature includes are:
  • Reports from organisations and governments
  • Conference papers and proceedings
  • Dissertations and theses
  • Research reports
  • Statistical reports
  • Policy statements
  • Newsletters
  • Pamphlets
  • Interviews
There are lots more, these are just some examples. 
There are many resources you can try searching in to find grey literature, including CORE - the biggest database for searching across Open Access repositories to find freely available academic content. Please see Finding Grey Literature for more resources for you to search.
Additionally, Google advanced search can help in locating these kinds of materials. For example, if you were searching for UK Government reports, you could put '' in the domain field. See Finding Information on the Internet for further details on Google advanced search. 
Not all grey literature is subject to the same rigorous review and editing processes to those used by commercial publications, so it is important that you critically evaluate material for quality, reliability and potential bias.  
Expand your statistical horizons
Be aware and acknowledge that statistics are not free of bias, not neutral and not objective.
  • Who decides where the statistics come from?
  • Who decides how it is analysed and presented?
Data cannot ‘speak for itself’. Are statistics supported by the ‘experiential knowledge’ of black, marginalised and other ‘outsider’ groups in it’s interpretation? (Gilborn, Warmington and Demack, 2017, p. 17).
Critical evaluation – questions to ask
  • Is the article relevant to your topic?
  • Is it reliable?
  • Does the author provide their credentials?
  • Is the article related to UK or other geographical areas you are researching?
  • What is the main issue being discussed?
  • What are the major concepts discussed?
  • What are the important facts?
  • Can you verify facts presented?
  • What conclusion does the author reach?
  • Does the evidence support the arguments?
  • Is there any bias or use of emotive language or is it neutral?

Cited references

Gillborn, D., Warmington, P. and Demack, S. (2018) ‘QuantCrit: education, policy, “Big Data” and principles for a critical race theory of statistics’, Race Ethnicity and Education, 21(2), pp. 158–179. doi: 10.1080/13613324.2017.1377417.

Hunt, S. and Riegelman, A. (2021) Conducting research through an anti-racism lens [University of Minnesota Libraries guide]. Available at: (Accessed: 30 September 2021).

Stimpson, S. (2021) Diversity, Representation & Inclusion in Music Education [Presentation] Haringey EDI INSET 10 September.