SIG: Inclusion in Neuroscience - Post 12
Author: Skyler Hughes
Undergraduate research assistant at the B-RAD Lab at the University of Alabama
This week, the B-RAD research group discussed Julia Laible’s “A Loving Epistemology: What I Hold Critical in My Life, Faith, and Profession” for the Special Interest Group (SIG) topic. Julia Laible was a University of Alabama professor who was conducting research with Mexican American adolescent girls in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. Julia was conducting this research for her dissertation and was interested in bringing light to educational practices that increased “success” for underrepresented students who experienced oppression in school. Julia was aware of her limitations, whether that was lingual or cultural, and kept a self-reflection journal to become aware of her own Eurocentric Biases. However, despite Julia’s efforts to be understanding and considerate, her entire research purpose- her definition of “success”- was racially biased. Her standards for success of these girls were based on her middle-class, Euro-American standards.
This essay sparked a conversation in the SIG group about our implicit biases and accountability in research. We talked about how Julia Laible thought she was being representative (attempting to be understanding of their opinions, their language) but that the methodology of research needs to be thoroughly considered when analyzing cultural differences. We are all biased from our own experiences, so there will always be a challenge in understanding what other people have been through. Laible’s intent was to help an underrepresented population, but in doing so, she may have victimized the people she was researching, and may have incidentally reinforced this idea of oppression. She was using her own frame of reference instead of the frame of reference of that specific community.
A large take-away from this conversation is that it is always important to check yourself and the research you are conducting. Whether you are accidentally using non-inclusive language (ableist language, for example), or not asking the “right” research question (how does my definition of success differ from your definition of success?), you always need to be considerate of the people you are working with. Ways to be more considerate while conducting research may include doing your due diligence in background research (especially on arbitrary/bias topics), active and reflective listening to accurately captures someone’s voice/opinion, and self-reflection/introspection.
Laible, J. C. (2000). A loving epistemology: What I hold critical in my life, faith and profession. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 13(6), 683–692. https://doi.org/10.1080/09518390050211574
Check here for updates and news about the B-RAD Lab.