Towards decolonising research processes

Researchers at all levels understand that conducting research within the UK Higher Education system requires a process. A process which regularly goes through stages of: choosing a research topic; searching, reading and reviewing literature; identifying participants or a sample; choosing methods to collect data; the process of data collection, writing up the findings; and disseminating the research to wider audiences.

While all researchers know that in practice research is not a linear process (no matter how many research guides imply it is) a significant part requires an engagement and interrogation with other scholarly work. My current thoughts around the research process are not written to engage in debates surrounding decolonising this research process entirely, nor do they critique the colonial and imperialistic lens with which this normalised research process upholds. Those are larger debates that require adequate space, time and respect to deconstruct. Instead, my current thoughts focus on a specific area – engaging with scholarly literature and theoretical frameworks, which new contributions to knowledge are often based on.

In particular, I have been thinking of literature search strategies that can be used to identify Black scholars and Scholars of Colour. I have been testing these strategies in an attempt to decolonise my PhD research through small acts of solidarity with the decolonising the curriculum movement. One of my strategies, a simple 5 step process, illustrates how this can be done in any academic field and is available here.

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