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New RTI Press publication lays out framework for equity-centered transformative research practices

Framework incorporates approaches and paradigms from leading scholars

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — A new paper published by RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access publications, offers a holistic framework for applying an equity-centered transformative approach to research.

The authors, part of RTI International’s Transformative Research Unit for Equity​ (TRUE), explain how organizations with a commitment to increase workplace diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging can apply those same concepts to the practice of research to achieve social justice.

“Workplace commitments are important steps, but those commitments can and should extend to actionable solutions for how to advance equity for all,” said Nitya Venkateswaran, Ph.D., a senior program manager at RTI and lead author of the paper.

“Our paper builds on the work of scholars from a wide array of disciplines. RTI’s framework provides a novel conceptualization of how to center equity by transforming researchers, expanding research content and shifting research processes” explained Stephanie Hawkins, Ph.D., author and founding director and vice president of TRUE.

The framework synthesizes the approaches of leading experts to present key steps researchers should take to integrate equity principles into their work, which include:

  • Understanding the importance of acknowledging and reflecting on their own biases
  • Valuing authentic partnerships with communities most affected by the research they are conducting and examining the power dynamics involved
  • Considering the equity implications of many methodological decisions

The framework also details how an equity-centered approach should impact the research process and be in service of liberation and social justice. It notes that researchers should use theories, methodologies and approaches based in the culture and context of communities where research is taking place, for instance, and ensure research findings provide value to those most affected by the conditions being studied.

The authors explain that the framework is a departure from mainstream research practices, which often replicate colonial and white supremacist principles. They note that implementing the framework is an “unlearning process.”

“The framework we put forward to embed principles of diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging in research is a roadmap,” added Venkateswaran. “We hope it creates a mandate for organizations  to recognize the need to conduct equity-centered transformative research.”

Read the full paper

Learn more about TRUE

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