Considerations for Centering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Research Syntheses

Considerations for Centering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Research Syntheses 

Explore all 12 Considerations and multiple DEI values-centered examples for each. Download the full document.

Research synthesis findings provide essential evidence to guide critical policy and practice decisions. Despite their importance, research syntheses have often adopted the limitations and biases inherent in the primary research under review. 

Rather than reproducing the inequities generated by methodologies based in white supremacy, ableism, and patriarchy, synthesis teams can instead take a conscientious approach to uplifting and representing the diverse experiences, cultural insights, and values of the communities they aim to benefit.

A Call to Action: Embedding DEI Values Within the Research Synthesis Process

A comprehensive and thoughtful approach is essential to effectively embed DEI values within the research synthesis process; no panacea can address the complexities involved. Instead, the Considerations for Centering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in Research Syntheses serve as a dynamic call to action, urging research synthesis teams to rigorously examine and deconstruct their existing assumptions, frameworks, and methodologies.

The Considerations are a pioneering effort to operationalize DEI values within each phase of the synthesis process. This resource aims to enlighten synthesis teams and their audiences, and to transform research syntheses into tools of empowerment that resonate with and honor historically oppressed perspectives.

What Do the Considerations Include?

The Considerations are organized by the 12 phases in a research synthesis process. For each Consideration, the authors provide an extended description of the purpose and importance of the recommendation, as well as multiple examples demonstrating what it looks like to embed DEI values-centered practices in that phase. 

Not Sure Where to Start?

Plan Your Next Steps: Use Our Cards

Download this print-ready PDF of our deck of 3x5 cards: How Will You Center Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Research Syntheses? 

On each card you will find:

  • Research phase and a summary of the Consideration; and
  • 1-2 examples in practice.

The authors acknowledge the challenges that ongoing synthesis teams may face in this transformative journey, often constrained by limited resources or stringent timelines. 

Consider a gradual incorporation of DEI elements where feasible, aiming for a seamless and complete integration in subsequent projects. This phased approach allows for continuous learning and adaptation, ensuring that DEI principles become an intrinsic part of the research synthesis fabric over time.

As a first step, download our cards: How Will You Center Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Research Syntheses? This printable deck of 12 cards summarizes each Consideration at a high level with a few examples of how it could look in practice. 

The cards can be used alongside the full document to initiate a constructive conversation and action planning with

  • Research synthesis teams;
  • Funders;
  • Advisory boards; and 
  • Clients.

Who Created the Considerations?

A product of AIR's Methods of Synthesis and Integration Center (MOSAIC), and supported by AIR's Equity Initiative, the Considerations represent the work of numerous individuals across Human Services, Health, and International Development. Although authored by Joshua Polanin, Isabelle Edwards, and Sarah Peko-Spicer, the Considerations received unique input from a technical working group who actively participated in its drafting, including the following staff members: Maliha Ali, Dr.P.H., M.B.B.S.; Eve Arif, B.S.; Graciela Castillo, M.P.H.; Martyna Citkowicz, Ph.D.; Andi Coombes, M.Sc.; Larry Friedman, Ph.D.; Julie Kochanek, Ph.D.; Laura Michaelson, Ph.D.; David Miller, Ph.D.; Tameka Porter, Ph.D.; Varsha Ranjit, M.P.H., B.Sc.; Terris Ross, Ph.D.; Jada Watson, M.S.Ed., B.P.S.; Ryan Williams, Ph.D.; Thomas Workman, Ph.D.