Tag Archives: research

Let’s Talk About Indigenous Research Methodologies

Happy (belated) Indigenous Peoples Days! Let’s talk about indigenous research methodologies (IRM). Jelena Porsanger defines IRM as

. . . a body of indigenous and theoretical approaches and methods, rules and postulates employed by indigenous research in the study of indigenous peoples. The main aim of indigenous methodologies is to ensure that research on indigenous issues can be carried out in a more respectful, ethical, correct, sympathetic, useful and beneficial fashion, seen from the point of view of indigenous peoples. (Porsanger, Jelena. (2004). An Essay about Indigenous Methodology. Nordlit. 8(1): 105-20. 10.7557/13.1910.)

Want to learn more? Here are a few resources on indigenous research methodologies.

Book cover: Indigenous Research Methodologies

Bagele Chilisa’s book Indigenous Research Methodologies provides an extensive overview of IRM and how to use them. Chilisa, from Botswana, describes post-colonial perspectives, indigenous knowledge systems, culturally sensitive and responsive research methods, and decolonizing the research process.

Call #: GN380.C494 2012


Book cover: Decolonizing Research -- Indigenous Storywork as Methodology

“From Oceania to North America, indigenous peoples have created storytelling traditions of incredible depth and diversity. The term ‘indigenous storywork’ has come to encompass the sheer breadth of ways in which indigenous storytelling serves as a historical record, as a form of teaching and learning, and as an expression of indigenous culture and identity. But such traditions have too often been relegated to the realm of myth and legend, recorded as fragmented distortions, or erased altogether. Decolonizing Research brings together indigenous researchers and activists from Canada, Australia and New Zealand to assert the unique value of indigenous storywork as a focus of research, and to develop methodologies that rectify the colonial attitudes inherent in much past and current scholarship. By bringing together their own indigenous perspectives, and by treating indigenous storywork on its own terms, the contributors illuminate valuable new avenues for research, and show how such reworked scholarship can contribute to the movement for indigenous rights and self-determination.” –Publisher description of Decolonizing Research: Indigenous Storywork as Methodology.

Call #: GN378.D43 2019


Book cover: Decolonising Methodologies -- Research and Indigenous Peoples

“To the colonized, the term ‘research’ is conflated with European colonialism; the ways in which academic research has been implicated in the throes of imperialism remains a painful memory. This essential volume explores intersections of imperialism and research – specifically, the ways in which imperialism is embedded in disciplines of knowledge and tradition as ‘regimes of truth.’ Concepts such as ‘discovery’ and ‘claiming’ are discussed and an argument presented that the decolonization of research methods will help to reclaim control over indigenous ways of knowing and being.

Now in its eagerly awaited second edition, this bestselling book has been substantially revised, with new case-studies and examples and important additions on new indigenous literature, the role of research in indigenous struggles for social justice, which brings this essential volume urgently up-to-date.” –Publisher description of Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples

Call #: GN380.S65 2012


Book cover:  Indigenous research--theories, practices, and relationships“Scholars understand what Indigenous research is, but how we practice Indigenous research ethically and respectfully in Canada is under exploration. This ground-breaking edited collection provides readers with concrete and in-depth examples of how to overcome the challenges of Indigenous research with respect to Indigenous worldviews, epistemologies, and ontology. In collaboration with their communities, and with guidance from Elders and other traditional knowledge keepers, each contributor links their personal narrative of Indigenous research to current discussions and debates. Accessible in nature, this interdisciplinary research tool is an essential read for all students and scholars in Indigenous Studies, as well as in the education, anthropology, sociology, and history research methodology classroom.” — Publisher description of Indigenous Research: Theories, Practices, and Relationships

Call #: E76.7.I53 2018

Book cover:  Research is ceremony -- indigenous research methods
“Indigenous researchers are knowledge seekers who work to progress Indigenous ways of being, knowing and doing in a modern and constantly evolving context. This book describes a research paradigm shared by Indigenous scholars in Canada and Australia, and demonstrates how this paradigm can be put into practice. Relationships don’t just shape Indigenous reality, they are our reality. Indigenous researchers develop relationships with ideas in order to achieve enlightenment in the ceremony that is Indigenous research. Indigenous research is the ceremony of maintaining accountability to these relationships. For researchers to be accountable to all our relations, we must make careful choices in our selection of topics, methods of data collection, forms of analysis and finally in the way we present information. I’m an Opaskwayak Cree from northern Manitoba currently living in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales, Australia. I’m also a father of three boys, a researcher, son, uncle, teacher, world traveller, knowledge keeper and knowledge seeker. As an educated Indian, I’ve spent much of my life straddling the Indigenous and academic worlds. Most of my time these days is spent teaching other Indigenous knowledge seekers (and my kids) how to accomplish this balancing act while still keeping both feet on the ground.” — Shawn Wilson, author of Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods

Call #: GN380.W554 2008

Want to see IRM in action? The library has access to many articles produced by researchers using IRM. Speak to your friendly reference librarians today if you’d like more information!

Why Would I Use a Database?

Situation: your professor has asked you to find articles on a specific topic. Let’s say you need articles on medication errors in hospitals. You know you need to start on the library home page, and you find some decent results using Quicksearch. So why do you see other databases listed on the website?

Here’s the skinny on databases.

1. Databases are often specialized for specific disciplines and audiences

As we discussed earlier, Quicksearch will give you a lot of results very quickly. However, those results are rarely as targetted as you really need for an intensive search. It’s like when you eat a bowl of Fruity Pebbles; when you pour straight from the box, you’ll get a mix of all the different colors. BUT, if you only want blue and red Fruity Pebbles, it’d be better if someone (hopefully with clean hands) pre-sorted the cereal so you could select your colors as you poured. Databases provide a similar service.

For instance, let’s go back to medication error example. I could go to the Databases page and use the drop-down list on the left to view the Health/Nursing/Medicine databases. That removes my green Fruity Pebbles, or all the results of drug overdoses in pop culture. Next, I could select the Health Source database because it is specifically made for students in the medical field. That removes the yellow Fruity Pebbles, or the articles that are a little too in-depth for my purposes. I don’t need to know the mechanism by which a certain drug works for my particular project. By using a database tailored to my discipline and demographic, I can get to relevant results very quickly.

2. Different databases provide different access

While Quicksearch will provide access to most things it shows you, it’s not the most adept at searching some databases. For example, Westlaw and Medline results are often not as well-represented in the results there. By going right to the database (and logging in for off-campus access!), I can save a lot of time trying to gain access to an article.

TL;DR — More results do NOT equal better results!

Sometimes Quicksearch just gives too many results. There are ways to filter the Quicksearch to be more specific (more on that another time), but sometimes your best bet to break your research down into attainable chunks is just going through a couple databases. The databases have already been programmed to understand your search a little better, and many even suggest helpful keywords when they guess what you’re searching. Save yourself a little work and try using a database for your next project!