1.7 Core Values: Diversity & Inclusion

You've almost certainly heard these terms, but may wonder if there's a difference between them.

In the context of Open Science diversity is the practice or quality of engaging in research with individuals who vary in terms of social class, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender, ability, etc.

Inclusion takes this diverse engagement further: it looks at the individual in relation to the community, organization, or society, and ensures that they not only participate in, but guide the research process, especially as the research impacts these diverse communities as stakeholders in the research process and the implementation of findings from research.

Looking back at our discussion in the previous section, diversity and inclusion seem to be natural partners of equity.

Diverse criticism of scientific ideas makes research more robust, and challenges biases and assumptions that might otherwise pass unchecked.

Diversity in Research Culture

Divergent perspectives, skill sets, and ideas introduce the "outside-of-the-box" thinking that drives research forward. Involving a diversity of views and people enriches research.

Diversity and inclusion show up in many types of research activities that involve participation and collaboration. Participation and collaboration can take many forms. For example,

  • Citizen science engages the public in data collection and processing.
  • Partnership research turns the relationship between researcher and subject into a partnership, where both contribute to the research question, methods, and outcomes.
  • International collaborations increase cultural diversity and can address problems that cross borders, like disease epidemics or pollution.
  • Interdisciplinary research, such as collaborations between medical researchers on the one hand and veterinarians and animal specialists on the other, can help investigate complex questions like how the COVID-19 coronavirus evolves in intermediate hosts before being transferred to humans.
Partnership Research: Integrated Knowledge Translation (IKT)

Historically, there has been an imbalanced power relationship between people with differing physical abilities or medical conditions and the experts responsible for their care, medical treatment or research of their conditions.

In recent years, however, patient rights movements have focused on returning power to people undergoing medical care. And researchers and practitioners are adapting their practices, recognizing that people living with a medical condition hold unique knowledge about how it affects them, and this lived experience can be used to improve both research and outcomes.

An interdisciplinary panel of researchers from both UBC campuses, led by Dr. Kathleen Martin-Ginis, has engaged with people living with spinal cord injury (SCI) to set up guidelines for collaboration that give those with SCI a voice in the research process, from the choice of avenues to investigate to decisions on the implementation of research results. This model of collaborative research, which is known as Integrated Knowledge Translation, has been shown to:

  • improve the quality of science;
  • increase the probability that findings will be used in real life in policy or practice;
  • facilitate learning among all parties involved; and
  • make research more relevant to patient needs.

You can check out one output from this research, the Integrated Knowledge Translation (IKT) Guiding Principles for Conducting Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Research in Partnership.

Integrated Knowledge Translation Guiding Principles for Conducting and Disseminating Spinal Cord Injury Research in Partnership