2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity

Aligning Your Research Methods with Your Social Justice Values

Presented at Track: Special Topic - Social Justice and Reform Technical Session I

We at the Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity operate with a critical orientation, meaning issues of social justice inform our thinking and acting in research methodology, design, data collection, and analysis. Social justice is central to what questions we ask, how we ask them, what methodologies we use, and how we work with partners to advance equity in STEM. This work requires unlearning how we were trained: we still revert to dominant norms on a daily basis.

This interactive workshop explores the power and possibility of transformative research methods, looking at how research methods themselves can have an impact on either the reinforcement of the status quo (hegemonic epistemology), or shift it equitably. We will offer discussion on a variety of decolonizing methodologies (Smith, 2012) that we aim to employ as a team, such as working collaboratively with research participants to co-create questions and projected outcomes (McNicoll, 1999), member-checking, collaborative analysis of results, and highlighting the impact of our collective positionality on the work that we do.

The workshop will not position us as experts of social justice research (as the notion of expert in these endeavors can reinforce the hierarchy between researcher and researched), but instead, will solicit knowledge from the attendees. We will ask: How do your research methods align with your social justice research values? In what ways could you examine or improve upon your research methods to reflect a critical intersectional frame? Participants will leave the workshop with an increased awareness of how to do research that reflects social justice values, paired with concrete methodological ideas to run with.


McNicoll, P. 1999. Issues in teaching participatory action research. Journal of Social Work Education, 35(1): 51–62.

Smith, L. (2012). Decolonizing methodologies : Research and indigenous peoples (2nd ed.). London: Zed Books.

  1. Dr. Emily Alicia Affolter University of Washington [biography]
  2. Dr. Cara Margherio University of Washington [biography]
  3. Dr. Emily Knaphus-Soran University of Washington [biography]
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