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Research Methods

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Psychology in Everyday Life

Concepts and connections third edition | ©2021 michael passer.


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PACKAGE WITH LAUNCHPAD SOLO FOR RESEARCH METHODS The book professors can depend on—for introducing research methods to any kind of student

With over two decades of classroom experience, Michael Passer knows how to guide students through the ins and outs of research methods. In this remarkable text, Passer’s experience leads to chapters filled with clear explanations, resonant examples, and contemporary research from across the breadth of modern psychology, all while anticipating common questions and misunderstandings. The new edition has been fully updated to reflect the latest  APA style guidelines,  as well as the updated APA Code of Conduct and ethical principles. It features full-page infographics summarizing key concepts and fully updated research. It can be packaged FREE with Worth Publishers’ LaunchPad Solo for Research Methods —the ideal online component for the text, featuring videos and activities that put students in the role of either experimenter or research subject.

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“I do appreciate [the author’s] realistic expectation of research methods. I believe his focus on diverse subfields while understanding the planned trajectory of students, gives this book a lot of street credibility.” -Ryan Hjelle, University of Minnesota   “The book is well designed. I particularly like the mix of academic knowledge, aligned with pop-culture grounded by research and attractive graphics and illustrations.” -Karen Thomas-Brown, University of Michigan - Dearborn   “It is straightforward, concise, and carries fundamental information for research methods.” -Guangying Wu, George Washington University   “The tone is conversational, and easy for students to understand. The concepts are presented accurately” -Guangying Wu, George Washington University   “It was very detailed and advanced, but presented in an accessible way. Students will gain a very sophisticated understanding of scale development and measurement.” -Lauren Coursey, University of North Texas – Dallas   “The text is amazing and one of the best research methods texts on the market.” -Chrysalis Wright, University of Central Florida   “The book is well designed with appropriate, meaningful figures and expected (and useful) practice opportunities” -Pam Marek, Kennesaw State University   “I am a fan of this text. I have used it for a few years and both me and my students really like it. I find that it covers the main concepts in a way that is easy for students to grasp and it provides a very good foundation for me to further explain issues during lectures.” -Karen Lawson, University of Saskatchewan   “Passer has done an excellent job of covering survey research, considerably better than many research methods textbooks I have reviewed.” -Carie Buchanan, St. Thomas More College   “I have found over the last few years that the text covers the material to a degree that is appropriate for the level of student in my course. The text is well- written” -George Alder, Simon Fraser University – Burnaby

Third Edition | ©2021

Michael Passer

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Table of Contents

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Michael W. Passer is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Washington. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, he entered the University of Rochester fully expecting to be a physics or chemistry major, but he became hooked on psychological science after taking introductory psychology and a seminar course on the nature of the mind. He got his start as an undergraduate researcher under the mentorship of Dr. Harold Sigall, was a volunteer undergraduate introductory psychology Teaching Assistant, and received a Danforth Foundation Fellowship that partly funded his graduate studies and exposed him to highly enriching national conferences on college teaching. Dr. Passer received his Ph.D. from UCLA, where he conducted laboratory research on attribution theory under the primary mentorship of Dr. Harold Kelley and gained several years of field research experience studying competitive stress, self-esteem, and attributional processes among boys and girls playing youth sports, mainly working with Dr. Tara Scanlan in the Department of Kinesiology. At the University of Washington he has conducted hypothesistesting field research on competitive stress with youth sport participants, collaborated on several applied research projects in the fi eld of industrial-organizational psychology, and for the past 20 years has been a Senior Lecturer and faculty coordinator of U.W.’s introductory psychology courses. In this role, he annually teaches courses in introductory psychology and research methods, developed a graduate course on the teaching of psychology, and is a U.W. Distinguished Teaching Award nominee. With his colleague Ronald Smith, he has coauthored five editions of the introductory textbook Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behavior (McGraw-Hill), and has published more than 20 scientific articles and chapters, mostly on attribution theory and competitive stress.  

Third Edition | 2021

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Designing Research in Education: Concepts and Methodologies

  • Edited by: Jon Swain
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd
  • Publication year: 2017
  • Online pub date: January 19, 2023
  • Discipline: Education
  • Methods: Case study research , Mixed methods , Research questions
  • DOI: https:// doi. org/10.4135/9781529622775
  • Keywords: knowledge , population , students , supervisors , surveying , teaching , theses Show all Show less
  • Print ISBN: 9781446294260
  • Online ISBN: 9781529622775
  • Buy the book icon link

Subject index

This is a clear introduction to the methodological and philosophical debates in the field of education research. It sets out the key ideas, questions, and dilemmas which inform all research and then, through the careful use of case studies and practical advice from experienced researchers, grounds them in the specific concerns of education and educational studies. Written by experienced academics and teachers the book links broad philosophical principles with practical strategies for designing and conducting ethical and effective research. Perfect for postgraduate students planning their own research in education this book will help you to: • Understand the philosophical foundations of your work. • Conceptualise and refine your research question. • Pick the right methodology for your research. • Embed ethical considerations throughout your research. This book is an ideal companion for any postgraduate student or early career academic conducting research across education and educational studies.

Front Matter

  • The Companion Website
  • List of Abbreviations
  • About the Authors
  • Introduction

Part I: Concepts and philosophical issues informing research designs

  • Chapter 1: Setting the scene in educational research
  • Chapter 2: Designing and managing your research in education in the early stages
  • Chapter 3: Designing your research in education
  • Chapter 4: Constructing knowledge through social research: Debates in epistemology and ontology
  • Chapter 5: Ethical issues and considerations

Part II: The application of the research designs

  • Chapter 6: Experimental design
  • Chapter 7: Surveys
  • Chapter 8: Ethnography
  • Chapter 9: Case studies
  • Chapter 10: Mixed methods in education research
  • Chapter 11: Summary and conclusions

Back Matter

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10 Best Research Books For Qualitative And Quantitative Research

Are you looking for the best research books? Take a look at some of the best books on research methods below.

Research methodology comes in many shapes and forms. Regardless of whether you are interested in qualitative or quantitative research, it is essential to find a book that can help you plan your research project adequately. Research design can vary from hard sciences to social sciences, but data analysis following a case study is usually similar. Therefore, you need a practical guide that can help you complete a research project and finish your research paper.

1. Qualitative Research: A Guide To Design And Implementation, 4th Edition

2. research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches, 4th edition, 3. the research methods knowledge base, 3rd edition, 4. the craft of research, 5. doing your research project: open up study skills, 5th edition, 6. qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five approaches, 3rd edition, 7. the essential guide to doing your research project, 2nd edition, 8. introducing research methodology: a beginner’s guide to doing a research project, 2nd edition, 9. the sage handbook of qualitative research, 5th edition, 10. research methods in education, 7th edition, the final word on the best research books, what is the difference between quantitative research and qualitative research, how do i figure out which academic journal to publish my research in, further reading.

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When someone talks about qualitative research in academia, they refer to research that focuses on overall concepts and takeaways instead of complex numbers. For those conducting academic research, understanding the basics of this process is critical. Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation, by Sharan B. Merriam and Elizabeth J. Tisdell, 4th edition, is one of the best books available because it focuses on action research, mixed methods, online data sources, and some of the latest technology that people can use to complete their projects.

A significant portion of this book focuses on data analysis software packages, which have become critically important in an era where publishing in the best academic journals is critical for every successful researcher. Finally, this book explains topics so that nearly everyone can understand.

Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation

  • Merriam, Sharan B. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 08/24/2015 (Publication Date) - John Wiley & Sons (Publisher)

Suppose you are looking for a book that can teach you the best research methodology. In that case, you will want to check out Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches by John W. Creswell, 4th edition. John Creswell is one of the most well-respected writers in case study research.

As books on how to research go, this one on quantitative and qualitative research methods is a great tool that will help you learn the basics of forming a research project in every field. This book covers philosophical assumptions and research projects, theory and research approaches, and conducts an effective literature review. These elements are also crucial in helping you form a step-by-step guide for your upcoming research project, and this book will teach you the basics of data analysis.

Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches

  • Research Design
  • Creswell, John W. (Author)
  • 273 Pages - 02/10/2024 (Publication Date) - SAGE Publications, Inc (Publisher)

The first two editions were already solid, but the third edition of The Research Methods Knowledge Base, by William M.K. Trochim and James P. Donnelly, features many updates to quantitative and qualitative research methods, teaching graduate students the basics of data collection before diving into the details for more advanced learners.

One of the significant advantages of this text is that it is a comprehensive tool that can be used for both undergraduate and graduate-level courses. It has a relatively informal style and conversational feel, which means readers will not be intimidated by walls of text. The research methods it teaches are straightforward, applicable, and relevant to anyone looking to complete a research project in the current era.

The Research Methods Knowledge Base, 3rd Edition

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The Craft of Research, by Wayne C. Booth, Gregory C. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, covers various research approaches that teach everyone the basics of forming a solid research project. In particular, this book focuses on what to do with the data after it has been collected.

People need to think about how their readers will interpret the structure of the paper, proactively anticipating questions they might have. By answering the reader’s questions in the initial version of the paper, it is easier to hold their attention from start to finish.

Of course, one of the most critical questions that must be asked when writing a research paper is, “so, what? Why does this information matter?” Researchers can keep this in mind while writing the introduction and conclusion of the paper so they will have an easier time constructing a powerful academic manuscript that is more likely to be accepted into the top academic journals.

The Craft of Research, Fourth Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)

  • Booth, Wayne C. (Author)
  • 336 Pages - 10/18/2016 (Publication Date) - University of Chicago Press (Publisher)

Doing Your Research Project: Open Up Study Skills, by Judith Bell, is a must-read for new researchers looking to make their way in academic research. This book is helpful because it teaches people how to conduct a research project using step-by-step advice. A research project can be daunting for new learners because it’s easy to focus on the final project and feel intimidated before taking the first step.

This book is indispensable because it teaches people everything they need to know to develop a research project, draft a hypothesis, carry out the project, and finalize a research paper after conducting detailed data analysis. Furthermore, this text will dive into common mistakes, pitfalls, and obstacles researchers need to overcome. Time is your most valuable resource, and nobody wants to spend time on trials that will not be relevant to the final project.

Doing Youp Research Project (Open Up Study Skills)

  • Bell, Judith (Author)
  • 296 Pages - 05/01/2010 (Publication Date) - Open University Press (Publisher)

Qualitative Inquiry And Research Design: Choose Among Five Approaches, 3rd Edition, Is The Latest In A Line Of Best-Selling Research Books From Creswell. This Book Ties Into People’s Philosophical Underpinnings When Developing A Research Project. It Also Looks At The History Of Various Research Projects, Which Serve As An Example For The Reader.

Overall, there are five traditions in qualitative research; grounded theory, phenomenology, narrative research, case study, and ethnography. Creswell uses an accessible writing style to help the reader understand when to use each of these narratives. Then, he dives into strategies for writing research papers using each of these approaches.

Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches

  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • 472 Pages - 03/14/2012 (Publication Date) - SAGE Publications, Inc (Publisher)

The Essential Guide To Doing Your Research Project by Zina O’Leary is geared more toward young learners. As books on how to research, it focuses on how to develop a research project, analyze data, and write up the results. Every stage of the book is clearly explained, with the author specifying why it is essential to carry out that step correctly.

It also focuses on practical tips and tricks that learners can use to successfully carry out their research projects. The book includes helpful chapter summaries, a complete glossary, and boxed definitions for essential terms that should not be overlooked. The author also has a variety of suggestions for further reading, which is helpful for more advanced learners who may want to pick up a text that is a bit more detailed. Finally, the book also comes with access to a companion website. The website includes journal articles, real projects, worksheets, and podcasts.

The Essential Guide to Doing Your Research Project

  • O′Leary, Zina (Author)
  • 384 Pages - 12/20/2013 (Publication Date) - SAGE Publications Ltd (Publisher)

Introducing Research Methodology: A Beginner’s Guide to doing a research project, by Uwe Flick is ideal for new researchers. the author guides readers through the fundamentals that underpin a strong research project. He focuses on essential steps, common mistakes, and ways to expedite the research process.

Then, the author dives into some of the most critical skills readers need to have if they want to collect and analyze data properly. he goes into basic organizational tactics that make data easier to interpret, explains how to shorten the analytical process, and dives into real-life quantitative and qualitative research methods. He uses his research as an example, explaining to people how to pull out the essential parts of the research project before writing them up.

Introducing Research Methodology: A Beginner′s Guide to Doing a Research Project

  • Flick, Uwe (Author)
  • 320 Pages - 04/14/2015 (Publication Date) - SAGE Publications Ltd (Publisher)

The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research by Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln focuses on global research. this text teaches readers how to synthesize existing literature, identify current research, and focus on caps that can be filled. the authors gather contributions from some of the most well-renowned researchers, addressing issues in research projects today. this text focuses more on research regarding social justice. therefore, this is better for people in the social sciences.

The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research

  • Hardcover Book
  • 992 Pages - 02/15/2017 (Publication Date) - SAGE Publications, Inc (Publisher)

Research Methods in Education, by Louis Cohen, Lawrence Manon, and Keith Morrison, is essential for students and professional researchers who want to learn how to create a comprehensive research project. It’s broken up into helpful chapters wrapped up by a convenient summary at the end, explaining to readers how to hit the high points.

Research Methods in Education also comes with a helpful companion website that contains PowerPoint slides for every chapter. This book can be read independently and discussed with a classroom full of students. The book has been written at a level that is accessible even to high school students, but the basics can be a helpful review for graduate researchers.

Research Methods in Education

  • Cohen, Louis (Author)
  • 944 Pages - 10/27/2017 (Publication Date) - Routledge (Publisher)

Academic research comes in many shapes and forms, with qualitative and quantitative research having high points; however, the basics are the same across all fields. Researchers need to learn how to develop a hypothesis, put together a research methodology, collect their data, interpret it, and write up their findings.

It can be helpful to use the books about research above to refine your research methods . Each book focuses on a slightly different facet of academic research, so readers need to find the right book to meet their needs. With a substantial text, readers can avoid common mistakes, follow in the footsteps of successful researchers, and increase their chances of writing a solid research paper for school or getting their paper accepted into an academic journal.

Books About Research FAQs

Quantitative research focuses more on numbers and statistics. This type of research is more common in hard sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics.

Qualitative research focuses more on overall meanings and concepts. This type of research is more common in social sciences such as anthropology, archaeology, and research topics focusing on social justice.

It would help compare prior articles in that academic journal to the article you have written. Most academic journals focus on a specific field, and you need to submit your article to a publication that shares research articles similar to your own. Be sure to consider the prestige of the journal before submitting your paper.

If you enjoyed this round-up of the best research books, you might also like our top 11 essay writing tips for students . 

You might also find our guide on essay topics for students  helpful. 

research concepts books

Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.

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Introduction to Research Methods

3 Understanding Key Research Concepts and Terms

Many terms and concepts are associated with research methods, particularly as it relates to the research planning decisions you must make along the way.  Throughout this textbook, you will be exposed to many of these terms and concepts.  Figure 1.1 is a general chart that will help you contextualize many of these terms and also understand the research process.  As you can see, Figure 1.1 begins with two key concepts: ontology and epistemology, advances through other concepts and concludes with three research methodological approaches: qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods.

However, it is important to note that research does not end with making decisions about the type of methods you will use. In fact, we could argue that the work is just beginning at this point. As such, Figure 1.1 does not represent an all-encompassing list of concepts and terms related to research methods. Keep in mind that each strategy has its own data collection and analysis approaches, which are associated with the various methodological approaches you choose.  Figure 1.1 is meant to provide a general overview of the lay of the research land. You may want to keep this figure handy as you read through the various chapters.


Ontology & epistemology

Thinking about what you know and how you know what you know involves questions of ontology and epistemology. Perhaps you have heard these concepts before in a philosophy class?  These concepts are relevant to the work of sociologists as well. As sociologists (those who undertake socially-focused research), we want to understand some aspect of our social world.  Usually, we are not starting with zero knowledge.  In fact, we usually start with some understanding of: 1) what is; 2) what can be known about what is; and, 3) what the best mechanism happens to be for learning about what is (Schmitz, 2012). In the following sections, we will define these terms and provide an example of ontology and epistemology

Ontology is a Greek word that means the study, theory, or science of being.  Ontology is concerned with the what is or the nature of reality (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2009).  It can involve some very large and difficult to answer questions, such as: What is the purpose of life? What, if anything, exists beyond our universe?  Ontology also asks: What categories does it belong to? Is there such a thing as objective reality?  What does the verb “to be” mean?  

Ontology is comprised of two aspects: objectivism and subjectivism. Objectivism means that social entities exist externally to the social actors who are concerned with their existence. Subjectivism means that social phenomena are created from the perceptions and actions of the social actors who are concerned with their existence (Saunders, et al., 2009).  Figure 1.2 provides an example of a similar research project to be undertaken by two different students.  While the projects being proposed by the students are similar, they each have different research questions.  Read the scenario and then answer the questions that follow.

Subjectivist and objectivist approaches (adapted from Saunders et al., 2009)

Ana is an Emergency & Security Management Studies (ESMS) student at a local college. She is just beginning her capstone research project and she plans to do research at the City of Vancouver. Her research question is as follows: What is the role of City of Vancouver managers, working in the emergency management department, in enabling positive community relationships? She will be collecting data related to the roles and duties of managers in enabling positive community relationships.

Robert is also an ESMS student at the same college. He too will be undertaking his research at the City of Vancouver. His research question is as follows: What is the effect of the City of Vancouver’s corporate culture in enabling managers, working in the emergency management department, to develop a positive relationship with the local community? He will be collecting data related to perceptions of corporate culture and its effect on enabling positive community-emergency management department relationships.

Before the students begin collecting data, they learn that six months ago, the long-time emergency department manager and assistance manager both retired. They have been replaced by two senior staff managers who have Bachelor’s degrees in Emergency Services Management. These new managers are considered more up-to-date and knowledgeable on emergency services management, give their specialized academic training and practical on-the-job work experience in this department. The new managers have, essentially, the same job duties and operate under the same procedures as the managers they replaced. When Ana and Robert approach the managers to ask them to participate in their separate studies, the new managers state that they are just new on the job and probably cannot answer the research questions and they decline to participate. Ana and Robert are worried that they will need to start all over again with a new research project. They return to their supervisors to get their opinions on what they should do.

Before reading about their supervisors’ responses, answer the following questions:

  • Is Ana’s research question indicative of an objectivist or a subjectivist approach?
  • Is Robert’s research question indicative of an objectivist or a subjectivist approach?
  • Given your answer in question 1, which managers could Ana interview (new, old, or both) for her research study? Why?
  • Given your answer in question 2, which managers could Robert interview (new, old, or both) for his research study? Why?

Ana’s supervisor tells her that her research question set up for an objectivist approach. Her supervisor tells her that in her study the social entity (the City) exists in reality external to the social actors (the managers). In other words, there is a formal management structure at the City that has largely remained unchanged since the old managers left and the new ones started. The procedures remain the same regardless of whoever occupies those positions. As such, Ana using an objectivist approach, could state that the new managers have job descriptions which describe their duties and that they are a part of a formal structure with a hierarchy of people reporting to them and to whom they report to. She could further state that this hierarchy, which unique to this organization, also resembles hierarchies found in other similar organizations. As such, she can argue that the new managers will be able to speak about the role they play in enabling positive community relationships. Their answers are likely to be no different than the old managers, because the management structure and the procedures remain the same. Therefore, she can go back to the new managers and ask them to participate in her research study.

Robert’s supervisor tells him that his research sets up for a subjectivist approach because in his study the social phenomena (the effect of corporate culture on the relationship with the community) is created from the perceptions and consequent actions of the social actors (the managers). In other words, there is a continual process of social interaction, that is influenced by the corporate culture at the City, and it is these interactions that influence perceptions of the relationship with the community. The relationship is in a constant state of revision. As such, Robert, using a subjectivist approach, could state that the new managers may have had few interactions with the community members to date and therefore may not be fully cognizant of how the corporate culture affects the department’s relationship with the community. While it will be important to get the new mangers’ perceptions, he will also need to speak with the precious managers to get their perceptions from the time they were employed in their positions. This is because the community-department relationship is in a state of constant revision, which is influenced by the various managers perceptions of the corporate culture and its effect on their ability to form positive community relationships. Therefore, he can go back to the current managers and ask them to participate in his study and also ask that the department please contact the previous managers to see if they would be willing to participate in his study.

As you can see from the previous examples, it is the research question of each study that served to guide the decision as to whether the researcher should take a subjective or an objective ontological approach. This decision, in turn, guided their approach to the research study, including to whom they should interview in order to answer their respective interview questions.  We will be speaking a lot more about research questions in the upcoming chapters.

  • Epistemology

Epistemology has to do with knowledge. Rather than dealing with questions about what is , epistemology deals with questions of how we know what is.  In sociology, there are many ways to uncover knowledge. We might interview people to understand public opinion about some topic, or perhaps we’ll observe them in their natural environment. We could avoid face-to-face interaction altogether by mailing people surveys for them to complete on their own or by reading what people have to say about their opinions in newspaper editorials. These methods are all ways that sociologists gain knowledge. Each method of data collection comes with its own set of epistemological assumptions about how to find things out (Schmitz, 2012). There are two main subsections of epistemology: positivist and interpretivist philosophies. We will examine these philosophies or paradigms in the following sections.

Long Descriptions

Figure 1.1 long description: The research process.

  • Interpretivism
  • Post-modernism
  • Social constructivism
  • Non-experiment
  • Quasi-experiment
  • Quantitative
  • Qualitative
  • Mixed methods
  • Unobtrusive methods

[Return to Figure 1.1]

An Introduction to Research Methods in Sociology by Valerie A. Sheppard is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Chapter Eight: Research Concepts

We live in an age of immediate answers. Although we have not achieved parity in access to technology worldwide, information has never been easier to uncover. This is, of course, a double-edged sword: the proliferation of ideas due to the technological revolution enables new kinds of learning, but also has fundamentally changed the way we think and interact.

One of my friends refers to his iPhone as “The Wonder Killer”: because he has such quick access to answers through the miniature computer he carries everywhere, the experience of sustained curiosity is now very rare in his life. All kinds of questions are easily answered by googling—“Who was that guy in Back to the Future Part II ?” “Do spiders hibernate?”—or a brief crawl through Wikipedia—“How has globalization impacted Bhutan’s economy?” “What life experiences influenced Frida Kahlo’s painting?” But the answers to these questions, though easily discovered, paint a very one-dimensional portrait of human knowledge.

Image of the play icon that overlays on top of Adam Savage standing on the TED stage giving his talk , How Simple Ideas Lead to Scientific Discoveries

Take a look at this brief TED video from Adam Savage of MythBusters . For scientists and writers alike, the spirit of curiosity at once motivates individual learning and also the growth and progress of our collective knowledge. Your innate ability to be curious puts you in the league of the most brilliant and prolific scholars—people who were driven by questions, seeking to interrogate the world around them.

In this section, I add my voice to the chorus of writing teachers whose rallying cry is a renewed investment in curiosity 1 . Hopefully, you too will embrace inquisitive fascination by rejecting easy answers and using writing as a means of discovery.

Chapter Vocabulary

Inquiry-based research.

It’s possible that you’ve already written research papers by this point in your academic career. If your experience has been like mine was, writing these papers went one of two ways:

The teacher assigns a specific topic for you to research, and sometimes even a specific thesis for you to prove.

The teacher provides more freedom, allowing students to choose a topic at their own discretion or from a set of options.

In both situations, my teacher expected me to figure out what I wanted to argue, then find research to back me up. I was expected to have a fully formed stance on an issue, then use my sources to explain and support that stance. Not until graduate school did I encounter inquiry-based research , which inverts this sequence.

Put simply, inquiry-based research refers to research and research writing that is motivated by

Consider the difference this can make: if research is about learning , then an inquiry-based perspective is essential. If you only seek out the ideas that agree with you, you will never learn.

Photograph: a magnifying glass looking across a reference book. Vladuchick, Paul. Investigation, 2010. Flickr, https://flic.kr/p/8rQaXM.

Even in the event that the investigation yields the same answers, their differences are crucial. The example in the table above demonstrates confirmation bias , or as we called it in Chapter Four, “projection.” (You might be familiar with this phenomenon from politicized social media spheres which tailor content to the user; 2 you may have also identified it as the force behind many axes of prejudice, racialized police violence, and discrimination.) When we only look for answers that agree with our preexisting ideas, we are more likely to ignore other important ideas, voices, and possibilities. Most importantly, confirmation bias inhibits genuine learning, which relies on challenging, expanding, and complicating our current knowledge and worldviews

Consequently, inquiry-based research is time-consuming and intensive: instead of only dealing with evidence that supports a certain answer or perspective, it requires the reasoner to encounter a great diversity of evidence and answers, which can be difficult to sift through.

You don’t have to—shouldn’t, in fact—have a thesis set in stone before starting research. In lieu of a thesis guiding your process, a research question or path of inquiry will motivate your research and writing. You might have a hypothesis or a working thesis, but you must be tremendously flexible: be prepared to pivot, qualify, nuance, or entirely change your answer as you proceed.

In order to pursue your research question, you will need to encounter a lot of sources. Not all of the sources you encounter will make it into your paper, which is a new practice for some students. (When I engage in inquiry-based research, I would approximate that one in every twelve sources I encounter makes an appearance in my final draft. The other eleven may be interesting or educational, but might not have a place in my discussion.) This is a time-consuming process, but it leads to more significant learning, more complex thinking, and more interesting and effective rhetoric.

Ongoing Conversation 3

Photograph: a group of people sitting in folding chairs in a circle, having a conversation.

Imagine yourself arriving at a party or some other social gathering. You walk up to a circle of people chatting casually about Star Wars . It’s clear they have been on about it for a while. Some of them you know, some of them you’ve heard of but never met, and some of them are total strangers—but they all seem to have very strong opinions about the film franchise. You want to jump into the conversation, so when someone posits, “Jar Jar Binks was the worst character of the prequels, and maybe even the whole canon,” you blurt out, “Yeah, Jar Jar was not good. He was bad. He was the worst character of the prequels. He might even be the worst of the whole canon.” The circle of people turn to stare at you, confused why you just parroted back what the last person said; all of you feel awkward that you derailed the discussion.

Even writing that example makes me socially anxious. Let’s try option B instead: as you arrive to the group, you listen attentively. You gradually catch the flow and rhythm of the conversation, noticing its unique focus and language. After hearing a number of people speak regarding Jar Jar, you bring together their ideas along with your ideas and experiences. You ease yourself in to the conversation by saying, “I agree with Stan: Jar Jar is a poorly written character. However, he does accomplish George Lucas’s goals of creating comic relief for young audiences, who were a target demographic for the prequels.” A few people nod in agreement; a few people are clearly put out by this interpretation. The conversation continues, and as it grows later, you walk away from the discussion (which is still in full force without you) having made a small but meaningful contribution—a ripple, but a unique and valuable ripple.

This dynamic is much like the world of research writing. Your writing is part of an ongoing conversation : an exchange of ideas on a certain topic which began long before you and will continue after you. If you were to simply parrot back everyone’s ideas to them, you would not advance the conversation and it would probably feel awkward. But by synthesizing many different sources with your unique life experiences, from your unique vantage point (or, “interpretive position” viz. Chapter Four), you can mobilize research and research writing to develop compelling, incisive, and complex insights. You just need to get started by feeling out the conversation and finding your place.

Developing a Topic

Finding a conversation that you’re excited about and genuinely interested in is the first and most important step. As you develop a topic, keep in mind that pursuing your curiosities and passions will make your research process less arduous, more relevant, and more pleasant. Such an approach will also naturally improve the quality of your writing: the interest you have for a topic will come across in the construction of your sentences and willingness to pursue multiple lines of thought about a topic. An author’s boredom results in a boring paper, and an author’s enthusiasm translates to enthusiastic writing.

Depending on the parameters your teacher has set, your research topic might need to (a) present a specific viewpoint, (b) focus on a specific topic, or (c) focus on a certain theme or set of ideas. It’s also possible that your teacher will allow complete autonomy for one or all of your research assignments. Be sure you review any materials your instructor provides and ask clarifying questions to make sure your topic fits the guidelines of their assignment.

To generate ideas, I recommend completing some of the activities included later in this chapter. I find it most productive to identify areas of interest, then develop questions of all sizes and types. Eventually, you will zero in on a question or combination of questions as your path of inquiry.

What makes for a good research question or path of inquiry? Of course, the answer to this question will depend on your rhetorical situation. However, there are some common characteristics of a good research question in any situation:

  • It is answerable, but is not easily answerable . 4 Engaging and fruitful research questions require complex, informed answers. However, they shouldn’t be so subjective, intricate, or expansive that they simply cannot be answered in the scope of your rhetorical situation. 5
  • It is specific . By establishing parameters on your scope, you can be sure your research is directed and relevant. More discussion of scope and focus continues below, and you can try the exercise titled “Focus: Expanding and Contracting Scope” later in the chapter to learn more.
  • It matters to someone . Research questions and the rhetoric they inform are valuable only because they have stakes : even if it’s a small demographic, the answers to your research question should impact someone.
  • It allows you to say something new or unique . As discussed earlier in this chapter, inquiry-based research should encourage you to articulate a unique standpoint by synthesizing many different voices, interpreted from your individual perspective, with your life experiences and ideas. What you say doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, but it shouldn’t just reiterate ideas, arguments, histories, or perspectives.

It is difficult to find a question that hits all these marks on your first try. As you proceed through research, pre-writing, drafting, and revising, you should refine and adjust your question(s). Just like any other part of writing, developing a path of inquiry is iterative: you’ve got to take a lot of chances and work your way toward different results. The activity titled “Focus: Expanding and Contracting Scope” in this section can help you complicate and develop your question along a variety of axes.

To hear a different voice on developing research questions, check out this short video from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Screenshot image from the Try It Yourself YouTube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oJNO6PYZe4

In order to find the best version of your research question, you should develop “working questions”—questions of all sizes and types that are pertinent to your subject. As you can see below, you can start with a handful of simple working questions that will eventually lead to a viable research question.

As you hone your path of inquiry, you may need to zoom in or out in terms of scope: depending on your rhetorical situation, you will need different degrees of focus. Just like narration, research writing benefits from a careful consideration of scope. Often, a narrower scope is easier to work with than a broader scope—you will be able to write more and write better if your question asks for more complex thinking.

Image of an inverted triangle demonstrating how to build a working knowledge of a research top. The top of the inverted triangle is the Topic followed by Working Knowledge , Working Questions, Research Question(s), and Working Theses. To the right of the inverted triangle is a down arrow with the following text: Idea Generation exercises; Preliminary research; free-writing; Ongoing research; talking to peers, instructor, and Writing Center; Narrowing Scope: finding connections, drawing boundaries in time/space, complicating questions; and drafting & revising.

Consider the diagram above. As you build a working knowledge of your topic (get the feel for the conversation that began before you arrived at the party), you might complicate or narrow your working questions. Gradually, try to articulate a research question (or combination of questions). Remember to be flexible as you research though: you might need to pivot, adjust, refocus, or replace your research question as you learn more. Consider this imaginary case study as an example of this process.

Ahmed began his project by identifying the following areas of interest: racism in the U.S.; technology in medicine and health care; and independent film-making. After doing some free-writing and preliminary research on each, he decided he wanted to learn more about racially motivated police violence. He developed working questions:

Are police officers likely to make judgments about citizens based on their race?

Have police forces instituted policies to avoid racism?

Who is most vulnerable to police violence?

Why does it seem like police officers target people of color?

Who is responsible for overseeing the police?

He realized that he needed to narrow his focus to develop a more viable path of inquiry, eventually ending up with the research question,

Over the last thirty years, what populations are most likely to experience police violence in the U.S.?

However, after completing more research, Ahmed discovered that his answers came pretty readily: young Black men are significantly more vulnerable to be victims of police violence. He realized that he’s not really saying anything new, so he had to tweak his path of inquiry.

Ahmed did some more free-writing and dug around to find a source that disagreed with him or added a new layer to his answers. He discovered eventually that there are a handful of police organizations that have made genuine efforts to confront racism in their practices. Despite the widespread and normalized violence enacted against people of color, these groups were working against racial violence. He reoriented his research question to be,

Have antiracist police trainings and strategies been effective in reducing individual or institutional racism over the last thirty years?

Writing a Proposal

Bigger research projects often require additional steps in preparation and process. Before beginning an extended meditation on a topic—before rushing into a long-term or large-scale research project—it’s possible that your teacher will ask you to write a research proposal. The most effective way to make sure your proposal is on the right track is to identify its rhetorical purpose. Are you trying to process ideas? Compile and review initial research? Demonstrate that you’re pursuing a viable path of inquiry? Explain the stakes of your subject?

Although every rhetorical audience will value different parts of the proposal, there are a handful of issues you should try to tackle in any proposal.

  • Your subject . Introduce your topic with a general introduction to your topic—not too general, but enough to give the reader a sense of grounding.

Too general: Education is something that happens in every facet of our lives. Better: Access to education is a major concern for people living in a democratic society.

  • Your occasion . When you developed your research question, you chose an issue that matters to someone, meaning that it is timely and important. To establish the significance of your topic, explain what’s prompting your writing and why it matters.

Since Betsy Devos’ nomination for U.S. Secretary of Education, the discussion surrounding school choice has gained significant momentum. Socioeconomic inequality in this country has produced great discrepancies in the quality of education that young people experience, and it is clear that something must be done.

  • Your stakes and stakeholders . Although you may have alluded to why your question matters when introducing your occasion, you might take a sentence or two to elaborate on its significance. What effect will the answer(s) you find have, and on whom?

Because educational inequality relates to other forms of injustice, efforts to create fairness in the quality of schools will influence U.S. racial politics, gender equality, and socioeconomic stratification. For better or for worse, school reform of any kind will impact greater social structures and institutions that color our daily lives as students, parents, and community members.

  • Your research question or path of inquiry . After introducing your subject, occasion, and stakes, allow the question guiding your research to step in.

Some people believe that school choice programs are the answer. But is it likely that people of all socioeconomic backgrounds can experience parity in education through current school voucher proposals?

  • Your position as a working thesis . Articulate your position as a (hypo)thesis—a potential answer to your question or an idea of where your research might take you. This is an answer which you should continue to adjust along the way; writing it in the proposal does not set your answer(s) in stone.

In my research, I will examine whether school choice programs have the potential to create more equitable schooling experiences for all students. Even though proponents of school choice use the language of freedom and equality to justify school vouchers, recent propositions for school choice would likely exacerbate inequality in education and access.

  • The difficulties you anticipate in the research and writing process and how you plan to address them . In your proposal, you are trying to demonstrate that your path of inquiry is viable; therefore, it is important to show that you’re thinking through the challenges you might face along the way. Consider what elements of researching and writing will be difficult, and how you will approach those difficulties.

There are a vast number of resources on school choice, but I anticipate encountering some difficulty in pursuing my guiding question. For example, many people discussing this topic are entrenched in their current viewpoints. Similarly, this issue is very politicized, dividing people mostly along party lines. I also need to do more preliminary research: I’m not certain if there have been school choice experiments conducted on any significant scale, in the U.S. or elsewhere. Finally, it is difficult to evaluate complex social phenomena of inequality without also considering race, gender, disability status, nationality, etc.; I’ll need to focus on socioeconomic status, but I cannot treat it as a discrete issue.

  • Optional, depending on your rhetorical situation: A working list of sources consulted in your preliminary research . I ask my students to include a handful of sources they have encountered as they identified their topic and path of inquiry: this shows that they are working toward understanding their place in an ongoing conversation.

Works Cited

Worsnop, Richard L. “School Choice: Would It Strengthen or Weaken Public Education in America?” CQ Researcher , vol. 1, 10 May 1991, pp. 253-276.

Zornick, George. “Bernie Sanders Just Introduced His Free College Tuition Plan.” The Nation [Article] , The Nation Company LLC, 3 April 2017.

Combining these examples, we can see our proposal come together in a couple of paragraphs:

School Vouchers: Bureaucratizing Inequality

Access to education is a major concern for people living in a democratic society. Since Betsy Devos’ nomination for U.S. Secretary of Education, the discussion surrounding school choice has gained significant momentum. Socioeconomic inequality in this country has produced great discrepancies in the quality of education that young people experience, and it is clear that something must be done. Because educational inequality relates to other forms of injustice, efforts to create fairness in the quality of schools will influence U.S. racial politics, gender equality, and socioeconomic stratification. For better or for worse, school reform of any kind will impact greater social structures and institutions that color our daily lives as students, parents, and community members. Some people believe that school choice programs are the answer. But is it likely that people of all socioeconomic backgrounds can experience parity in education through current school voucher proposals?

Zornick, George. “Bernie Sanders Just Introduced His Free College Tuition Plan.” The Nation , The Nation Company LLC, 3 April 2017, Bernie Sanders Just Introduced His Free College Tuition Plan [The Nation article]

As you develop your own proposal, I encourage you to follow these steps, answering the questions listed above. However, in order to create a more cohesive proposal, be sure to revise for fluency: your proposal shouldn’t read like a list of answers, but like a short essay outlining your interests and expectations.

Idea Generation: Curiosity Catalogue 6 and Collaborative Inquiry

This exercise encourages you to collaborate with other classmates to develop a topic, working questions, a path of inquiry, and a baseline of communal knowledge. You should complete Part One independently, then gather with a small group of two or three other students for Part Two, and a different small group of two or three other students for Part Three: Small Group. (If you are working on this exercise as a full class, complete Part One, Part Two, and Part Three: Gallery Walk.) Before you get started, divide three large sheets of paper (11×17 is best) into columns like this:

Create a catalogue of topics you are personally curious about—things that you want to learn more about. These don’t have to be revolutionary things right away; it’s more important that they’re meaningful to you. First, choose three of the following broad topic headings:

Image of three-column sheet of paper with the topic headers of Politics, Food, and Music and Art. For more accessible version, contact pdxscholar@pdx.edu.

On your first sheet of three-column paper, write those three topic headings.

Image demonstrates the brainstorming technique of using three-columns for the topic headers and adding ideas underneath each header. For more accessible version, contact pdxscholar@pdx.edu.

Next, underneath each topic heading, write bulleted lists of as many subtopics or related ideas that come to mind that interest you. (Try not to censor yourself here—the idea is to generate a large number of bullet points. To some extent, this is an exercise in free association: what are the first things that come to mind when you think of each topic?) Spend ten to fifteen minutes on your lists. Then, take a five-minute break away from your lists and clear your head; return to your lists for three more minutes to make any additions that you didn’t think of at first.

Read over your lists, making note especially of items that surprised you. Choose the three items from the full page that most interest you. You can choose one from each column, three from the same, or any combination of lists, so long as you have three items that you care about.

Begin to develop a working knowledge by collaborating with

classmates to consider the topic from several perspectives beyond your own.

Image demonstrates the brainstorming technique of using three-columns for the topic headers and adding ideas underneath each header. For more accessible version, contact pdxscholar@pdx.edu.

Review the knowledge your groupmates compiled on your sheet. Have they offered anything that surprises you—stuff you didn’t know already, conflicting perspectives, or connections to other ideas or topics?

Part Three: Small Group

Begin to develop working and research questions by collaborating with your classmates to explore different curiosities. (This part of the exercise is designed for a small group of three or four total students, including you, different from the group in Part Two. If you are completing this part of the exercise with your whole class, skip to Part Three: Gallery Walk.)

Image demonstrates the brainstorming technique of using three-columns for the topic headers and adding ideas underneath each header. For more accessible version, contact pdxscholar@pdx.edu.

Sit in a circle with your groupmates; each student should pass their three-column paper one position clockwise. For five minutes, each student will free-write questions about each topic. No question is too big or small, too simple or complex. Try to generate as many questions as you possibly can. Then, rotate your papers another step—repeat until you have your original sheet of paper back.

Review the questions your groupmates compiled on your sheet. Have they offered anything that surprises you—issues you haven’t thought of, relationships between questions, recurring themes or patterns of interest, or foci that might yield interesting answers?

Part Three: Gallery Walk

Begin to develop working and research questions by collaborating with your classmates to explore different curiosities. (This part of the exercise is designed for an entire class of students of about twenty to twenty-five students, including you. If you are completing this part of the exercise a small group of three to four total students, including you, return to Part Three: Small Group.)

Image demonstrates the brainstorming technique of using three-columns for the topic headers and adding ideas underneath each header. For more accessible version, contact pdxscholar@pdx.edu.

Review the questions your classmates compiled on your sheet. Have they offered anything that surprises you—issues you haven’t thought of, relationships between questions, recurring themes or patterns of interest, or foci that might yield interesting answers?

After completing all three parts of this exercise, try to articulate a viable and interesting research question that speaks to your curiosity. Make sure its scope is appropriate to your rhetorical situation; you can use the exercise “Focus: Expanding and Contracting Scope” later in this chapter to help expand or narrow your scope.

If you’re still struggling to find a topic, try some of other idea generation activities that follow this, or check in with your school’s Writing Center, your teacher, or your peers.

Idea Generation: Mind-Mapping

By organizing and exploring your current knowledge, you might find an area of interest for your research project. A mind-map, also known as a “web” or “cluster,” is a graphic representation of your thought processes. Since this form allows for digressions, free association, and wandering, it allows for organic thinking and knowledge-building.

Example of a mind-map on the topic of Education. For more accessible version, contact pdxscholar@pdx.edu.

Once you’ve finished your mind-map, review the idea or clusters of ideas that seem to demand your attention. Did any of your bubbles or connections surprise you? Do you see any patterns? Which were most engaging to meditate on? From these topics and subtopics, try to articulate a viable and interesting research question that speaks to your curiosity. Make sure its scope is appropriate to your rhetorical situation; you can use the exercise “Focus: Expanding and Contracting Scope” later in this chapter to help expand or narrow your scope.

Idea Generation: Internet Stumbling

In addition to its status as an ever-expanding repository of knowledge, and in addition to its contributions to global human connection, the Internet is also an exceptional free association machine. Through the magic of hyperlinks and social media, random chance can set us in the right direction to develop a research topic. Spend fifteen to twenty minutes clicking around on the Internet, using one of the following media for guidance, and jot down every potential topic that piques your interest.

Image of a Wikipedia homepage.

  • Wikipedia : Go to the Wikipedia homepage and check out the “featured article” of the day, or choose “Random Article” from the sidebar on the far left. Click any of the hyperlinks in the article to redirect to a different page. Bounce from article to article, keeping track of the titles of pages and sections catch your eye.
  • StumbleUpon : Set up a free account from this interest randomizer. You can customize what kinds of pages, topics, and media you want to see.
  • An Instagram, Facebook, reddit, or Twitter feed : Flow through one or more social media feeds, using links, geotags, user handles, and hashtags to encounter a variety of posts.

After stumbling, review the list you’ve made of potentially interesting topics. Are you already familiar with any of them? Which surprised you? Are there any relationships or intersections worth exploring further? From these topics and subtopics, try to articulate a viable and interesting research question that speaks to your curiosity. Make sure its scope is appropriate to your rhetorical situation; you can use the exercise “Focus: Expanding and Contracting Scope” later in this chapter to help expand or narrow your scope.

Focus: Expanding and Contracting Scope

At this point, you have hopefully identified some topic or path of inquiry for your research project. In order to experiment with scope, try complicating your research question(s) along the different dimensions in the following table. A completed table is included as an example after the blank one.

Model Texts by Student Authors

Pirates & anarchy 7.

(Research proposal – see the annotated bibliography here and final essay here)

My inquiry has to do with piracy and its relationship with anarchist culture. There seem to be two tipping points to the life cycles of piratical and anarchist cultures. First, there is the societal inequality and/or economic stagnation that cause groups to lose faith in established power structures (Samatar 1377). This disenfranchisement leads to groups’ choosing to take self-guided action, to meet needs not satisfied. It is a bid for freedom. The other shift appears to be when the actions of the group become predatory upon vulnerable groups. What begins as notions of self-sufficiency become violent victimizations of other segments of society (Wilson ix).

The current guiding questions that I am following are these: What societal breakdowns lead to groups subscribing to anarchist philosophies? Are pirates and anarchists synonymous? Do the successes and/or failures of pirate organizations create any lasting change in the societies from which they spring?

Piracy has been around for a very long time and has taken on many forms. One of these incarnations was the seafaring sort terrorizing ships during the golden age of piracy in the seventeenth century. Another example was the Somali pirates preying on the African coast in the early 2000s. Information pirates in cyberspace and anarchist protestors in political activism are current forms. The relevance of why individuals turn to piracy is important to explore.

Political polarization continues to freeze up the government, rendering them ineffectual. Worse, elected officials appear more concerned with ideology and campaign funding than the plight of the common man, leaving their own constituents’ needs abandoned. Citizens may turn to extreme political philosophies such as anarchy as a way to take piratical action to counteract economic disparity. A pervasive sense of powerlessness and underrepresentation may lead to the splintering of societal structure, even rebellion. Of import is understanding whether acts of piracy lead to societal erosion via this loss of faith and turn to violence, shrugging off accountability to the system as a countermeasure to what is seen as government’s inability to provide a free and fair system. This may be seen as empowering. It may also signal a breakdown of centralized government.

There are several difficulties I anticipate. Dedicating time in an efficient manner is the main concern with managing this project. This topic will require a lot of exploration in research. At the same time, writing and revising need their fair share of dedication. I’m looking to find that balance so each aspect of the process gets its due. I will handle this by utilizing the strategy of setting a timer for research and then for writing. A little of both will get done each day, with greater allotments of time given to writing as I go along.

Also of concern is narrowing this topic further. The phenomenon of piracy is so interesting to me, especially in the context of history. However, considering how this topic may be relevant in the current shifting political landscape, it seems important to dwell on the now as well as the past. Much has been written already on piracy, so I’ll be going into the research looking for a more focused place where I can contribute to the subject matter. I’m going to set up a couple of writing center appointments to get some guidance as I go along.

Finally, I want to be watchful of wandering. Many side paths are open to inspection with this topic. Not only will this waste time, but it will also weaken my argument. Once I tighten up the thesis, I want to make sure my research and writing stay focused.

Teacher Takeaways

“The proposal introduces the subject well and identifies guiding questions (and some context) clearly. However, the questions are not yet specific or complex enough to act as the essay’s central research question; the main components (pirates and anarchy) are still too general. Choosing a type of piracy (and perhaps a location), for instance, would lend context and definition to “anarchy” as it is considered here. Then the stakes may be clearly determined. Everything rides on greater specificity. That said, the author has done well to convert an interest into a compelling and unique line of inquiry — an important first step.”– Professor Fiscaletti

Samatar, Abdi Ismail, Lindberg, Mark, and Mahayni, Basil. “The Dialectics of Piracy in Somalia: The Rich Versus the Poor.” Third World Quarterly , vol. 31, no. 8, 2010, pp. 1377-1394. EBSCOhost , doi: 10.1080/01436597.2010.538238 .

Wilson, Peter Lamborn. Preface. The Devil ’ s Anarchy: The Sea Robberies of the Most Famous Pirate Claes G. Compaen and The Very Remarkable Travels of Jan Erasmus Reyning , Buccaneer by Stephen Snelders, Autonomedia , 2005, pp. vii-xi.

A Case of Hysterics 8

The concept of female Hysteria was a medical recognition dating back to the 13th century that has been diagnosed by physicians quite liberally until recent times. The diagnosis and treatment of Hysteria were routine for hundreds of years in Western Europe, as well as the United States. Symptoms that indicated Hysteria were broad and all encompassing: nervousness, sexual desire, faintness, insomnia, irritability, loss of appetite, depression, heaviness in abdomen, etc. These symptoms were said to be caused by a “wandering womb,” described as a kind of living creature that sought to disrupt biological processes, disrupt breathing, and cause disease.

The number of diagnosed cases of hysteria slowed as medical advancements proceeded, and in the early 1960s (coinciding with the popularization of feminism) the “disease” ceased to be considered a true medical disorder. In modern medicine, however, the treatment and diagnosis of female medical issues continues to be vague and potentially harmful due to lack of knowledge. Does the concept of female hysteria have continuity today?

Although the vocabulary has changed, it is clear that the practice of ignoring serious medical ailments based on sex remains prominent in the world of medicine. It is not uncommon for a physician to diagnose a woman with chronic stress or psychosomatic issues, and then later discover a disease like lupus, fibromyalgia, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, all of which are still commonly dismissed because it is likely the patient is experiencing the chronic pain in their heads. Because of sexism in the medical field, many women are receiving subpar healthcare. In my research, I will examine the past culture of Hysteria as well as the current state of misdiagnoses of women’s health issues and how this reinforces gender norms in today’s society; this will demonstrate the need for eliminating bias and sexism in medicine.

In my research process, I imagine I will encounter difficulties in finding detailed scientific research in the misdiagnoses of women’s health, despite having found multiple accounts on non-scientific platforms. I also anticipate a possible attitude of mistrust coming from the audience because of this topic; it is common nature to trust doctors blindly, as well as the norm in our culture to assume women are irrational and excessive. Finally, it will be difficult to attribute sexism and bias simply to the idea of misidentification of ailments. While this is common, sexism has also contributed to, plainly, a lack of research and knowledge of female healthcare. Therefore, willful ignorance plays a role in the imbalance between male and female medicine as well. I will mention this concept briefly in my essay, but continue to focus on the idea of frequent female misdiagnosis and how this perpetuates preconceived notions of feminine temperament in society.

“The author takes the time to give historical context, and that is important for building the analogy referenced in the research question. However, the question itself, and the following discussion, lack some precision. What does ‘continuity’ mean here? What ‘notions of feminine temperament’ will be examined? Are they a cause or an effect of misdiagnosis? The author may already have a (hypo)thesis in mind, but the terms of the question must first be clarified. Still, the context and the discussion of gender theory and medicine indicate a researcher who is eager to synthesize information and join a larger discussion.”– Professor Fiscaletti

Wage Transparency and the Gender Divide 9

Discussing salaries with neighbors and especially colleagues is often an unthinkable offense against social mores in the United States. Pay secrecy has long been the norm in most of Western society, but it comes with an information imbalance during any salary negotiations. Lately, wage transparency has gained some legal foothold at the national level as a tool to combat gender wage disparity for equal work. Is pay transparency an effective tool to close the gender pay gap, or will it only succeed in making colleagues uncomfortable?

States have been successively passing local laws to reinforce prior national legislation protecting employees’ rights to share salary information, and recent hacks have made information public involuntarily. In some situations, like in Norway, wage transparency has been the law for years. Norway also has the third smallest wage gap in the world. Compensation also has an impact on self-esteem and performance, so the wage gap could be causing a systematic decrease in self-worth for women in the workforce relative to their male counterparts. I plan to research whether increased wage transparency would cause a decrease in the gender pay gap.

There are many readily available statistics on the wage gap, although it may be difficult to avoid politically polarized sources. I’m not sure how available analytical studies of pay transparency will be, although sites like Glassdoor have published some admittedly self-serving studies. It will be difficult, although interesting, to assess the issue of pay transparency and the wage gap, as they are both complex sociological issues.

“This student has chosen an interesting and focused topic for their inquiry-based research paper. I appreciate their anticipation of difficulties, too. Although I expect their understanding of the issue will evolve as they learn more about it, I would still encourage this author to spend some more time in this proposal hypothesizing about the connection between gender discrimination and pay secrecy; it’s not 100% clear to me how those important topics are related to each other. This is germane to my other major concern—that the student doesn’t appear to have done any research at this point. A couple of preliminary sources may provide guidance as the student wrestles with complex ideas.”– Professor Dawson

EmpoWORD: A Student-Centered Anthology and Handbook for College Writers Copyright © 2018 by Shane Abrams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Cover Research Concepts for the Practitioner of Educational Leadership

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  • 12 February 2024

The ‘Bill Gates problem’: do billionaire philanthropists skew global health research?

  • Andy Stirling 0

Andy Stirling is a professor of science and technology policy at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, UK.

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

You have full access to this article via your institution.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates speaks during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January 2024.

Bill Gates and other wealthy individuals who spend vast sums on research often back some types of solution over others. Credit: Halil Sagirkaya/Anadolu/Getty

The Bill Gates Problem: Reckoning with the Myth of the Good Billionaire Tim Schwab Metropolitan Books (2023)

Global wealth, power and privilege are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few hyper-billionaires. Some, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, come across as generous philanthropists. But, as investigative journalist Tim Schwab shows in his latest book, charitable foundations led by billionaires that direct vast amounts of money towards a narrow range of selective ‘solutions’ might aggravate global health and other societal issues as much as they might alleviate them.

In The Bill Gates Problem , Schwab explores this concern compellingly with a focus on Gates, who co-founded the technology giant Microsoft in 1975 and set up the William H. Gates Foundation (now the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) in 1994. The foundation spends billions of dollars each year (US$7 billion in 2022) on global projects aimed at a range of challenges, from improving health outcomes to reducing poverty — with pledges totalling almost $80 billion since its inception.

Schwab offers a counterpoint to the prevailing popular narrative , pointing out how much of the ostensible generosity of philanthropists is effectively underwritten by taxpayers. In the United States, for example, 100,000 private foundations together control close to $1 trillion in assets. Yet up to three-quarters of these funds are offset against tax. US laws also require only sparse scrutiny of how charities spend this money.

research concepts books

CRISPR-edited crops break new ground in Africa

Had that tax been retained, Schwab reasons, the government might have invested it in more diverse and accountable ways. Instead, the dispersal of these funds is being driven mainly by the personal interests of a handful of super-rich individuals. By entrenching particular pathways and sidelining others, philanthropy is restricting progress towards the global Sustainable Development Goals by limiting options (see also strings.org.uk ).

Many Gates foundation programmes are shaped and evaluated using data from the US Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which was founded — and is lavishly funded — by the foundation. Schwab suggests that such arrangements could be considered conflicts of interest, because in-house ‘evaluations’ often tend to justify current projects. In the case of malaria, for instance, the numbers of bed nets distributed in tropical countries — a metric tracked by the IHME — can become a proxy for lives saved. Such circularity risks exaggerating the efficiency of programmes that aim to tackle high-profile diseases, including HIV/AIDS, potentially at the expense of other treatable conditions for which solutions might remain unexplored (see also Philip Stevens’s 2008 book Fighting the Diseases of Poverty ).

Limited scope

Similarly restricted views exist in other areas, too. In the energy sector, for instance, Gates flouts comparative performance trends to back exorbitantly expensive nuclear power instead of much more affordable, reliable and rapidly improving renewable sources and energy storage. In agriculture, grants tend to support corporate-controlled gene-modification programmes instead of promoting farmer-driven ecological farming, the use of open-source seeds or land reform. African expertise in many locally adapted staples is sidelined in favour of a few supposedly optimized transnational commodity crops.

Furthermore, the Gates foundation’s support for treatments that offer the best chances of accumulating returns on intellectual property risks eclipsing the development of preventive public-health solutions, Schwab notes. For example, the foundation promotes contraceptive implants that control women’s fertility, instead of methods that empower women to take control over their own bodies. Similarly, the foundation often backs for-profit, Internet-based education strategies rather than teacher-led initiatives that are guided by local communities.

Throughout its history, the Gates foundation’s emphasis on ‘accelerating’ innovations and ‘scaling up’ technologies, as noted on its website ( gatesfoundation.org ), obscures real-world uncertainties and complexities, and ignores the costs of lost opportunities. For example, Gates’s aim to eradicate polio is laudable. But pharma-based actions are slow — and can come at the expense of practical solutions for less ‘glamorous’ yet serious scourges, such as dirty water, air pollution or poor housing conditions.

A Kenyan health worker prepares to administer a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to her colleagues, Nairobi.

Transparency is scarce on whether charitable investments in vaccine companies might benefit philanthropists or their contacts. Credit: Simon Maina/AFP/Getty

Thus, by promoting interventions associated with the technological processes of extraction, concentration and accumulation that underpinned his own corporate success, Gates helps to tilt the playing field. His foundation tends to neglect strategies built on economic redistribution, institutional reform, cultural change or democratic renewal. Yet in areas such as public health, disaster resilience and education, respect for diverse strategies, multifaceted views, collective action and open accountability could be more effective than the type of technology-intensive, profit-oriented, competitive individualism that Gates favours.

Schwab traces the origins of this ‘Gates problem’ to the 1990s. At that time, he writes, Gates faced hearings in the US Congress that challenged anti-competitive practices at Microsoft and was lampooned as a “monopoly nerd” in the animated sitcom The Simpsons for his proclivity to buy out competitors. By setting up the Gates foundation, he pulled off a huge communications coup — rebranding himself from an archetypal acquisitive capitalist to an iconic planetary saviour by promoting stories of the foundation’s positive impact in the media.

research concepts books

Genetic modification can improve crop yields — but stop overselling it

Yet since then, Schwab shows, Gates has pursued a charitable monopoly similar to the one he built in the corporate world. He has shown that in philanthropy — just as in business — concentrated power can manufacture ‘success’ by skewing news coverage, absorbing peers and neutralizing oversight. For instance, Schwab documents how the voices of some non-governmental organizations, academia and news media have been muted because they depend on Gates’s money. While dismissing “unhinged conspiracy theories” about Gates, he describes a phenomenon that concerned activists and researchers call the “Bill chill”. By micromanaging research and dictating methods of analysis, the foundation effectively forces scientists to go down one path — towards the results and conclusions that the charity might prefer.

These issues are exacerbated by Gates applying the same energy that he used in business to coax huge sums from other celebrity donors, which further concentrates the kinds of innovation that benefit from such funding. But Schwab has found that transparency is scarce on whether or how Gates’s private investments or those of his contacts might benefit from his philanthropy. Questions arise over the presence of people with personal ties to Gates or the foundation on the board of start-up companies funded by the charity, for example.

Bigger picture

One minor gripe with the book is that although Schwab excels in forensically recounting the specific circumstances of Gates’s charitable empire, he is less clear on the wider political forces at work or the alternative directions for transformation that have been potentially overlooked. Schwab often implies that Gates’s altruism is insincere and rightly critiques the entrepreneur’s self-serving “colonial mindset” (see, for example, S. Arora and A. Stirling Environ. Innov. Soc. Transit. 48 , 100733; 2023 ). But in this, Gates is a product of his circumstances. As Schwab writes, “the world needs Bill Gates’s money. But it doesn’t need Bill Gates”. Yet maybe the real problem lies less in the man than in the conditions that produced him. A similar ‘tech bro’ could easily replace Gates.

research concepts books

The challenges facing scientists in the elimination of malaria

Perhaps what is most at issue here is not the romanticized intentions of a particular individual, but the general lack of recognition for more distributed and collective political agency. And more than any single person’s overblown ego, perhaps it is the global forces of appropriation, extraction and accumulation that drive the current hyper-billionaire surge that must be curbed (see also A. Stirling Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 58 , 101239; 2019 ).

Resolution of the Bill Gates problem might need a cultural transformation. Emphasis on equality, for instance, could be more enabling than billionaire-inspired idealizations of superiority. Respect for diversity might be preferable to philanthropic monopolies that dictate which options and values count. Precautionary humility can be more valuable than science-based technocratic hubris about ‘what works’. Flourishing could serve as a better guiding aim than corporate-shaped obsessions with growth. Caring actions towards fellow beings and Earth can be more progressive than urges to control. If so, Schwab’s excellent exposé of hyper-billionaire ‘myths’ could yet help to catalyse political murmurations towards these more collective ends.

Nature 626 , 477-479 (2024)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-024-00394-0

Competing Interests

The author declares no competing interests.

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What you can earn, credits earned, time commitment, upcoming deadline, your foundation in education begins here.

The Education Studies (EDST) degree program is a minimum requirement major that gives you the opportunity to study foundational education concepts and also concentrate on an area of your choice. All pathways emphasize educational equity and enacting social justice.

Coursework in Early Childhood Studies focuses on understanding the sociocultural context in which young children grow and thrive. This option is ideal for students who are interested in careers focussed on supporting young children and families, including:

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The Early Childhood Studies option prepares you to apply to the following  COE graduate programs:

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  • High-Incidence Disabilities Teacher Education (M.Ed.)
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  • Low-Incidence Teacher Education (M.Ed.)
  • Master’s in Teaching: Elementary (MiT)
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Coursework in Education Research and Policy provides students with an understanding of research and practice of education policy, organizations and leadership. This option is a good choice for students who are interested in understanding the complex sociocultural context of education and how it impacts the lives of individuals across their lifespans. Post graduation options include:

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Yale vows new actions to address past ties to slavery, issues apology, book.

 Ledger document from 18th century recording transactions of enslaved persons

Yale University’s ongoing work to understand its history and connections to slavery continued today with announcements of new commitments and actions and a formal apology in response to the findings of a scholarly, peer-reviewed book, “Yale and Slavery: A History,” authored by Yale Professor David W. Blight with the Yale and Slavery Research Project.

“ Confronting this history helps us to build a stronger community and realize our aspirations to create a better future,” Peter Salovey, Yale’s president, and Josh Bekenstein, senior trustee of the Yale Corporation, wrote in a message to the university community . “Today, on behalf of Yale University, we recognize our university’s historical role in and associations with slavery, as well as the labor, the experiences, and the contributions of enslaved people to our university’s history, and we apologize for the ways that Yale’s leaders, over the course of our early history, participated in slavery.

“ Acknowledging and apologizing for this history are only part of the path forward. These findings have propelled us toward meaningful action to address the continued effects of slavery in society today.”

The message followed a comprehensive, long-term examination Yale launched in 2020 to better understand the university’s history — specifically its formative ties to slavery and the slave trade.

“ We chose to do this because we have a responsibility to the pursuit of truth and the dissemination of knowledge, both foundational to the mission of our university,” Salovey and Bekenstein said in the message. “Confronting this history helps us to build a stronger community and realize our aspirations to create a better future.”

Since October 2020, the Yale and Slavery Research Project has conducted intensive research to provide a clearer and more comprehensive understanding of the university’s past.

The research project included faculty, staff, students, and New Haven community members, and was led by Blight, Sterling Professor of History in Yale's Faculty of Arts and Sciences and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale. Members of the group shared their results publicly as they conducted their research, and the university has steadily launched programs and initiatives in response.

The full findings from the project are now published by Yale University Press in a scholarly, peer-reviewed book authored by Blight and members of the Yale and Slavery Research Project. Key findings and the full book are available online for free.

The findings

Through its research, the Yale and Slavery Research Project “has deepened greatly our understanding of our university’s history with slavery and the role of enslaved individuals who participated in the construction of a Yale building or whose labor enriched prominent leaders who made gifts to Yale,” Salovey and Bekenstein said.

Although there are no known records of Yale University owning enslaved people, many of Yale’s Puritan founders owned enslaved people, as did a significant number of Yale’s early leaders and other prominent members of the university community. The research project has identified over 200 of these enslaved people, the message said. The majority of those who were enslaved are identified as Black, but some are identified as Indigenous. Some of those enslaved participated in the construction of Connecticut Hall, the oldest building on campus. Others worked in cotton fields, rum refineries, and other punishing places in Connecticut or elsewhere.

“ Their grueling labor benefited those who contributed funds to Yale,” the message said.

The project’s findings also revealed that prominent members of the Yale community joined with New Haven leaders and citizens to stop a proposal to build a college in New Haven for Black youth in 1831, which would have been America’s first Black college.

Additional aspects of Yale’s history are illuminated in the book’s findings, including the Yale Civil War Memorial that honors those who fought for the North and the South without any mention of slavery or other context, the message said.

Many of the project’s findings have been shared publicly and addressed by Yale on an ongoing basis during the research process.

‘ Our forward-looking commitment’

Based on the Yale and Slavery Research Project’s findings and the university’s history, Yale leaders announced new actions that focus “on systemic issues that echo in our nation’s legacy of slavery.”

The actions focus on increasing educational access; advancing inclusive economic growth; better reflecting history across campus; and creating wide access to Yale’s historical findings. The Yale and Slavery Research Project is part of Yale’s broader Belonging work to enhance diversity, support equity, and promote an environment of welcome, inclusion, and respect.

“ The new work we undertake advances inclusive economic growth in New Haven,” Salovey and Bekenstein said. “Aligned with our core educational mission, we also are ensuring that our history, in its entirety, is better reflected across campus, and we are creating widespread access to Yale’s historical findings.”

The full details of the university’s response are available on the Yale and Slavery Reseearch Project website .

Several of the university’s commitments are highlighted below:

‘ Increasing educational access and excellence in teaching and research’

The lost opportunity to build a college for Black students in New Haven in 1831 has prompted Yale to strengthen its partnerships with the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and to expand educational pathways for New Haven youth.

  • New Haven School Teachers: New Haven, as well as the rest of the country, is dealing with an acute and ongoing teacher shortage; in the city, there were 80 teaching positions that went unfilled during the last academic year. There are many reasons for this shortage, including the high costs of acquiring certification and a master’s in teaching degree, compared to the relatively modest compensation in the profession. “We are partnering with the New Haven Public School system, New Haven Promise, and Southern Connecticut State University to design a new residency fellowship program to provide funding to aspiring teachers, so they can attain a Master’s in Teaching degree in exchange for a commitment of at least three years of service in the New Haven Public School system,” Salovey and Bekenstein said. Once launched, this fellowship program aims to place 100 teachers with master’s degrees into the city’s schools in five years.
  • Yale and Slavery Teachers Institute Program: Yale will also launch a four-year teacher’s institute in summer 2025 to foster innovation in the ways regional history is taught. This program will help K-12 teachers in New England meet new state mandates for incorporating Black and Indigenous history into their curricula. Each year, a cohort of teachers will engage with partners within and outside of the university community to study content and methods related to a particular theme, using the book “Yale and Slavery: A History” as “a springboard.” The first year of the program will focus on Indigenous history, followed by slavery in the north, and Reconstruction and the Black freedom struggle. Led by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at the Yale MacMillan Center, the program will provide a platform for teachers in New England to co-develop curricular materials, in collaboration with scholars, public historians, Native communities, and other groups. The pedagogical materials and methods created through the program will be disseminated broadly for the benefit of students, educators, and the general public throughout the region.
  • HBCU Research Partnerships : Yale continues to expand its research partnerships with HBCUs across the country with pathways programs for students, opportunities for faculty collaboration, and faculty exchange programs. The university will announce a significant new investment in the coming weeks.
  • New Haven Promise Program : In January 2022, Yale expanded its contribution to New Haven Promise , a college scholarship and career development program that has supported more than 2,800 students from the New Haven Public Schools, by 25% annually, from $4 million to $5 million, and extended its commitment through June 2026.
  • Pennington Fellowships : In December 2022, Yale launched a new scholarship to support New Haven high school graduates to attend one of its partner HBCU institutions (Hampton University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T, and Spelman College). The program is designed to help address historical disparities in educational opportunities for students from New Haven and will grow to include 40 to 50 Pennington scholars at any given time, supporting students in their academic, financial, and career entry success.
  • Law School Access Program : Yale Law School’s pipeline program serves first-generation, low-income, and under-represented students from New Haven. The program invests in a class of up to 20 fellows who are “passionate about uplifting their local communities” in New Haven and Connecticut. Yale began centrally co-funding the program with the law school in 2024 to ensure its long-term stability.
  • K-12 Educational Outreach in New Haven : Yale supports many programs for youth in New Haven and surrounding communities, and thousands of public school children take part in Yale-funded academic and social development programs . These include Yale’s Pathways to Science and Yale’s Pathways to Arts and Humanities programs .

‘ Advancing inclusive economic growth in New Haven’

Yale remains committed to partnering with the City of New Haven to create vibrant shared communities with increased economic opportunities. This builds on the university’s ongoing work with the New Haven community, which includes increasing what was already the largest voluntary payment by a university to its host city in the country to approximately $135 million over six years and the creation of a new Center for Inclusive Growth to develop and implement strategies to grow the city economically.

  • Dixwell Plaza: Yale recently signed a 10-year letter of intent for space at Dixwell Plaza to support the development of a state-of-the-art mixed-use retail, residential, and cultural hub in Dixwell’s historically Black community center that is rooted in restorative economic development . Yale is working on this initiative with the Connecticut Community Outreach and Revitalization Program (ConnCORP), a local organization whose mission is to provide opportunities to New Haven’s underserved residents.
  • Community Investment Program : Yale’s community investment program works with independently owned retail businesses. Most recently, University Properties has supported a growing number of locally owned brick-and-mortar businesses, including restaurants and retail clothing stores. This program brings jobs to New Haven residents and expands the city’s tax base.

‘ Acknowledging our past’

The Yale and Slavery Research Project’s findings make clear that Yale’s foundations are inextricably bound with the economic and political systems of slavery, Salovey and Bekenstein wrote in the message. “That history is not fully evident on our campus, and we are working to ensure that our physical campus provides members of our community with a more complete view of the university’s history,” they said, noting the following projects:

  • Transforming Connecticut Hall : Connecticut Hall, constructed in the mid-18th century using in part the labor of enslaved people, is being reconstituted as a place of healing and communion as the new home of the Yale Chaplaincy. The Yale Committee on Art Representing Enslavement will make recommendations for how the building’s history with slavery can be acknowledged and made evident through art. The renovated building is currently slated to be reopened in summer 2025.
  • Civil War Memorial : Yale’s Civil War Memorial, located in Memorial Hall and dedicated in 1915, is a “Lost Cause” monument. However, the purpose and meaning of the memorial are largely unknown to most people who walk past it. Recently, an educational display was installed near the memorial to educate visitors on its history and provide additional resources.
  • Committee for Art Recognizing Enslavement : In June 2023, the university launched the Yale Committee for Art Recognizing Enslavement , which includes representatives from both the Yale and New Haven communities. The committee is working with (and soliciting input from) members of the campus and New Haven communities to commission works of art and related programming to address Yale’s historical roles and associations with slavery and the slave trade, as well as the legacy of that history.
  • M.A. Privatim degrees : In April 2023, the Yale board of trustees voted to confer M.A. Privatim degrees on the Rev. James W. C. Pennington (c. 1807-1870) and the Rev. Alexander Crummell (1819-1898). Both men studied theology at Yale, but because they were Black, the university did not allow them to register formally for classes or matriculate for a degree. On Sept. 14, 2023, the university held a ceremony to honor the two men and commemorate the conferral of the degrees.

‘ Creating widespread access to historical findings’

The book “Yale and Slavery: A History” provides a more complete narrative of Yale’s history — as well as that of New Haven, Connecticut, and the nation. Aligned with the university’s core educational mission, Yale will provide opportunities for communities within and beyond Yale’s campus to learn from the findings.

  • New Haven Museum Exhibition : Today, Yale opened a new exhibition at the New Haven Museum, created in collaboration with the Yale University Library, the Yale and Slavery Research Project, and the museum. On view through the summer, the exhibition complements the publication of “Yale and Slavery: A History” and draws from the research project’s key findings in areas such as the economy and trade, Black churches and schools, the 1831 Black college proposal, and memory and memorialization in the 20th century and today. The exhibition places a special focus on stories of Black New Haven, including early Black students and alumni of Yale, from the 1830s to 1940. There is no admission fee for viewing the exhibition.
  • Book Distribution : Yale will provide copies of the book to each public library and high school in New Haven, as well as to local churches and other community organizations. The university has subsidized a free e-book version that is available to everyone.
  • DeVane Lecture in Fall 2024: Blight will teach the next DeVane Lecture — a semester-long lecture series open to the public — during the Fall 2024 semester. Students can take the course for credit, and the lectures are free to attend for New Haven and other local community members. His course will cover the findings of the Yale and Slavery Research Project and related scholarly work. The lectures will be filmed and made available for free online in 2025.
  • App-Guided Tour : A new app includes a map of key sites on campus and in New Haven with narration, offering users the opportunity to take a self-guided tour. The tour’s 16 stops start with the John Pierpont House on Elm Street and end at Eli Whitney’s tomb in the Grove Street Cemetery.
  • Campus Tours : With a more accurate understanding of Yale’s history, the university is updating campus tours so that they include the key findings from the Yale and Slavery Research Project, particularly concerning the Civil War Memorial and Connecticut Hall.

Working together to strengthen the community

The university’s commitments are ongoing, “and there remains more to be accomplished in the years ahead,” Salovey and Bekenstein said.

Yale has established a Committee on Addressing the Legacy of Slavery to seek broad input from faculty, students, staff, alumni, New Haven community members, and external experts and leaders on actions Yale can take to address its history and legacy of slavery and “create a stronger and more inclusive university community that pursues research, teaching, scholarship, practice, and preservation of the highest caliber,” they said. The committee will be chaired by Secretary and Vice President for University Life Kimberly Goff-Crews.

Salovey and Bekenstein also invited members of the Yale and New Haven communities to read the book and share their comments . The Committee on Addressing the Legacy of Slavery will review all input and consider future opportunities — with New Haven, other universities, and other communities — to improve access to education and enhance inclusive economic growth, they said. The committee will report to the president.

In the coming weeks, the committee will host listening sessions for faculty, students, staff, and alumni. The Committee for Art Recognizing Enslavement will also host forums for members of the community.

In their message, Salovey and Bekenstein noted that the Yale and Slavery Research Project “has helped gain a more complete understanding of our university’s history.” They said the steps and initiatives Yale has established in response to the historical findings build on the university’s continued commitments to the New Haven community and its ongoing Belonging at Yale work to enhance diversity, support equity, and promote an environment of welcome, inclusion, and respect.

Several community and higher education leaders shared their thoughts about Yale’s announcement and plans.

“ I applaud Yale for studying its history more fully and responding to its historical ties to slavery by building on the partnerships it has with the New Haven community,” said Madeline Negrόn, superintendent of the New Haven Public Schools. “I welcome the possibility of Yale supporting the Teacher Residency Program for New Haven. Teacher recruitment and retention is one of New Haven Public Schools’ priorities.

“ We are eager to partner with Yale to finalize the design and implementation of a fellowship program aimed to support developing high quality and diverse teachers to stay long term in New Haven Public Schools.”

Yale’s police chief, Anthony Campbell, said:

“ Yale University’s leadership acknowledges the institution’s role in the travesty of slavery in the United States, recognizing that as a place of higher learning and research, it must confront and acknowledge this history. While Yale itself did not own slaves, the acknowledgment that some of its founders were slaveholders and that the oldest building on campus was constructed with slave labor underscores the university’s commitment to transparency and healing.

“ Furthermore, Yale’s support for the New Haven community, evidenced by its partnership with the New Haven Promise Program and the establishment of the Reverend Pennington Scholarships, signifies its dedication to the healing process.”

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Darrell K. Williams, the 13th president of Hampton University, said:

“ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was correct — the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. I also firmly believe that truth is essential to justice, and thus, with more truth comes more justice. I applaud the Yale community’s courage to publicly acknowledge Yale’s role in such a painful and consequential chapter of America’s story.”

In their message to the Yale community, Salovey and Bekenstein wrote:

“ Today, we mark one milestone in our journey to creating a stronger and more inclusive Yale and to confronting deeply rooted challenges in society to do our part in building ‘the beloved community’ envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“ Our work continues, and we welcome your thoughts and hope you will engage with our history .”

Campus & Community

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Karen N. Peart: [email protected] , 203-432-1345

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More From Forbes

High school textbooks fail to distinguish between sex and gender, researchers find.

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Schools are at the forefront of debates around gender identity (Pic: Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via ... [+] Getty Images)

High school textbooks are at odds with scientific research in failing to distinguish between the concepts of sex and gender, according to a new study .

Instead, they are based on assumptions that are linked to gender stereotyping and the dehumanization of women and may be fuelling discrimination, the report’s authors found.

The debate over sex and gender has become one of the most highly-charged in recent years, revolving not just around issues such as access to bathrooms and participation in sport, but also legal recognition and protection from discrimination.

Anti-trans rhetoric and legislation has been linked to a rise in violence against transgender people, and the FBI reporting a 33% jump in hate crimes based on gender identity.

Nex Benedict, a non-binary teen, died the day after being assaulted in a bathroom at Owassa High School in Oklahoma earlier this month. The 16-year-old had been bullied at school because they were transgender, according to their mother, Sue Benedict.

But while much of the debate has focused on schools, the reality is often far removed from the image of “ woke classrooms ” beloved of culture warriors, according to a study published in the journal Science .

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Researchers found that biology textbooks used in U.S. high schools frequently described the concepts of sex and gender in ways that ran counter to the scientific consensus and risked misleading students.

None of the six books — used in an estimated two thirds of high school introductory biology classes — distinguished between sex and gender, despite clear differences in how they are viewed by scientists.

While sex is described in scientific literature as a set of biological features related to reproduction, gender is a social construct — how people have chosen to interpret biological sex — rather than anything that exists independently.

Instead, the textbooks promoted an “essentialist” view, the idea that there is an “essence” that makes men and women the way they are, not just in terms of their biology but also their psychology and behavior.

“Overall, the ways in which textbooks described sex and gender are more consistent with essentialism than with the scientific consensus on these topics,” explains Catherine Riegle-Crumb, co-author of the study and a professor in the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin.

The textbooks included more paragraphs devoted to describing people of the same sex or gender as uniform than those that described differences, even though differences are the norm.

The books also suggested that variation in genes passed on through sex chromosomes were the most plausible explanation for variation within and between gender and sex groups, overlooking the key role of environmental factors, researchers said.

“The findings serve as a call to action — it is important that the high school biology curriculum is revised so that it reflects accurate scientific knowledge rather than misguided assumptions that may foster gender stereotyping and discrimination,” says Andrei Cimpian, a professor in the Department in the Psychology at New York University and a co-author of the research.

Previous research found that essentialist assumptions are linked to a range of negative consequences, including gender stereotyping and dehumanizing women, as well as providing support for discriminatory behavior, the study’s authors said.

And analysis of the textbooks suggests that students are learning about sex and gender in ways not supported by science, they added.

“Our study suggests that the material that adolescents are exposed to in school textbooks might itself—even if unintentionally—be a source of essentialist ideas,” says Brian Donovan, a senior research scientist at BSCS Science Learning, a nonprofit organization in Colorado Springs, and another co-author.

The textbooks were all published between 2009 and 2016, and Donovan said it was not unusual for textbooks to discuss ideas that had been superseded, this was not the case with the treatment of sex and gender in the volumes examined.

“Essentialism is not a scientific model — it’s an overly simplistic lay view that is at odds with the scientific consensus on sex and gender,” he added. “It should have no place in the biology curriculum.”

Nick Morrison

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