Embedding a Racial and Ethnic Equity Perspective in Research Proposals

Publication Date:

March 11, 2020

Topic:

Race Equity

It’s important to embed a racial and ethnic equity perspective in research proposals.

Research has power. It influences policies and programs, factors into how communities receive funding, and provides policymakers and decision makers with information that helps them understand the underlying structural factors that perpetuate inequities. Because of this power, researchers have a responsibility to embed a racial and ethnic equity perspective within their work. A racial and ethnic equity perspective considers historical and current contexts, as well as the unequal power differentials and access to resources and opportunities in certain communities. Conducting research with a racial and ethnic equity perspective produces findings that reflect the life experiences of children, youth, and families of color.

The guidelines below were developed to address the impact on staffing, budget, and timelines when embedding racial and ethnic equity in a research proposal.

Staffing

Proposals should always include a project team with content and methodological expertise. However, there are a few additional considerations for staffing when embedding racial and ethnic equity. First, you should propose a diverse team. Consider proposing staff from multiple backgrounds and cultures, including varied life experiences, races, genders, ethnicities, and socioeconomic classes. Prior research has shown that a racially diverse team of researchers can bring benefits in communication, innovation, and productivity. Team members who differ in their lived experiences and cultural beliefs can contribute multiple perspectives and sensitivities to the study design, process, and findings and can improve how organizations engage with and talk about particular populations. And for a diverse team to be most effective, project roles must be assigned equitably, such that persons of color are not only assigned logistics work but also hold strong research and analysis roles.

Research proposals can also address how researchers’ life experiences or other characteristics (e.g., race, ethnicity, language, dialect, gender, culture, class) differ from those of the population being engaged, and discuss how the study will mitigate influences of any power differentials on the research process. The proposal may address this through staff training, self-reflection exercises, or power mapping activities that will be part of the project design. Ultimately, the goal is to propose a project team that the community can trust to report accurate information.

Budget

Proposal budgets support researcher time and expenses and the cost to the community for partnering in the research. Adopting a racial and ethnic equity perspective when budgeting includes a few deliberate actions. First, the proposal should provide dedicated funding for researchers to spend time in communities of color to build authentic relationships with community members. Although this may look a bit different in an experimental study (e.g., researchers in a randomized control trial would likely spend less time), the budget should build in key personnel time to invest in learning about the community—both its historical and current context. There is no ideal amount of time for this process since it may vary based on several factors, including study design, prior experience or knowledge of the proposed study team, etc.

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