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Integrative Studies

A Subject Guide for the Students of the School of Integrative Studies


This page will provide strategies for finding diverse perspectives in your sources. For more in-depth explanations of the issues in scholarly publishing and access to publishing materials, please see our Finding Diverse Voices in Academic Research Guide. This article titled Racism in Academic Publishing gives a good overview of the issues faced by researchers attempting to publish in scholarly spheres, so think about expanding your searches to other credible sources in addition to using scholarly literature!

It is important while starting such research not to tokenize the voices you learn about. Instead, ask yourself why you are seeking diverse points of view. A few reasons might include:

  • Centering voices who represent their own cultures, traditions, and experiences
  • Amplifying historically ignored viewpoints
  • Discovering new viewpoints
  • Gaining a fuller understanding of a culture or tradition

Remember these scholars are all individuals whose contributions should be viewed as such. You may also email your INTS Subject Librarian, Ashley Blinstrub with further questions about how to do this research!

Brainstorm Your Research

Knowing the general oppressive practices of scholarly publishing is just the first half of working towards a more rich and diverse works cited page. There are several strategies that will help you make sure that you are using the best sources and getting the most diverse perspectives in your research. This section will take time and brainpower to think about oppression, your own biases, and finally how to find the sources you seek, but the effort is worthwhile as you will find more meaningful sources. You will also find linked activities to help you work through some of these strategies.

Seeking Scholars

When you are reading a resource, think about whose voices might be silenced or excluded and seek them out. See below for specific strategies for finding authors of sources. See box below for specific strategies for finding authors. 

Counter Narratives

One of the ways to counter white supremacist teachings and to highlight diverse perspectives is through telling and advocating for counter narratives. These include personal stories and experience of those who do not fall in the white majority sphere. Some of these counter narratives may not come from scholarly sources but would still be valuable to your research.  

For example, a newspaper article that features interviews with people held at the detention camps on the US/Mexico border may give you insights into living conditions and emotional impacts in a way that a scholarly article cannot.  

Searching through Google or Twitter hashtags is a great start when it comes to finding counternarratives.  

The TedTalk The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie outlines the importance of including counternarratives in your sources. 

Who's the Expert?

When reading a scholarly article, try to think about the data you are being presented with- would a different perspective lead to a different analysis of the data? For example, if a study about people’s experiences with microaggressions is written by someone that has experienced microaggressions in their life, they may be able to draw more robust conclusions from the data in comparison to someone who has not.  

The article Racism in Academic Publishing by Monnica T. Williams 

Get Help 

Talk to your subject librarian to get help finding sources in your research! Find your subject librarian here.  

Find Resources

Search demographic specific databases. Libraries are responding to an increasing demand for stories and research that highlight marginalized voices by purchasing databases that focus on collecting the stories of certain populations (Ex. African American NewspapersGenderWatch).

Take advantage of the work already done for you and use databases to begin your search. (See our GMU Resources Page)  

Databases may have different levels of search functionality for locating diverse voices. For example, Gale Literary Sources is a literature database that offers a "person search" option to allow users to search by demographic information of writers and novelists. You may need to try searching in multiple databases to locate the voices that you are researching.

Find specific journals for marginalized authors.  Many journals or publications are reserved for authors of a certain ethnic or racial background, gender, or sexual orientation (Ex. The Crisis Magazine, published by the NAACP, or the Richmond Planet, a black-owned newspaper in Reconstruction Era Richmond, VA). Become familiar with the publications in your field and use the Journal Search feature on the GMU website to search within those publications. If you need help, reach out to your Subject Librarian

  • Research diversity groups and resources associated with professional associations. Most professional associations have committees that address issues certain populations face within the field and will either provide resources or names of scholars who identify as members of the populations that you can find. The best place to look for these groups are on your professional association’s website. If there is no information on the website, contact the association directly. To find professional associations related to your field, visit Associations Unlimited

  • Research professional associations that are entirely focused on diverse groups, (Ex: the Asian Pacific Islander Library Association). They will have similar, and often more robust resources than the diversity groups within professional associations. A web search may help you find them, and if you need help, contact your Subject Librarian.  

  • Think about the information that you need and who might have created it. Marginalized voices may not have had the ability to write their stories down, or those stories might not have been preserved, so you may have to find their stories through others (account books, newspaper ads, court documents, etc). These may also be less traditional forms of information like Mason's Artists' Book collection. See our Primary Source Subject Guides for help.  

  • Explore Digital Humanities projects like the Anthologies of African American WritingDigital humanities is a broad term that encompasses multiple disciplines within the humanities, including history, art history, African and African American studies, women and gender studies, English language and literature, writing and rhetoric, and more. At the most basic level, digital humanities simply refers to the use of digital tools and methods to further scholarship. At a more complex level, digital humanities involves reimagining the way we approach sources and data, research, narrative, and the publication and interpretation of scholarship. See the Digital Humanities Guide for more information. 

  • Explore Datasets like the Slave Voyages database that collect statistics and data from government census information to scientific data to  historic statistics. See the Data and Statistics Guide for more information.

  • Locate public archive collections like the Black Women Writers Project that provide primary resource information in digital forms.

  • Work with a research coordinator like those at George Mason Special Collections Research Center, or use one of the Special Collections finding aids. Special collections researchers may be able to provide you with tips and hints on how to locate the primary sources that you are looking for.

Find Authors

Searching for authors from marginalized groups can be a difficult process in library searches. Unless you know a specific author, you will need to think outside the box to find these voices. While you may find subject headings about African American authors, or Asian authors, library catalogs do not tag every author with how they identify. 

Here are a few strategies to find authors: 

  • Search for professors in specific programs: i.e. GMU programs like Women and Gender Studies, African and African American Studies, or University of Tulsa’s Native American Law. See what these experts have written. 

  • Ask your professors about diverse scholars in their field. They may prominent voices in their subject.

  • Search for lists of authors from marginalized communities in your field like

  • Complete a web search for identity.  Search the identity (Black Female CEOs) you want to hear from then explore what those people have written. 

  • Web search Authors. Research authors for articles you have already found on your topic to see if they are a part of the community they are discussing. If you are looking at an article, you will not be able to tell their background immediately. Do not assume identity based on names. The best thing to do is research the author and see what you can uncover from their biographical information.  

  • Find scholars and authors within Professional Association Diversity Groups. Not every professional association has a diversity group or committee, but they may have a diversity resource page with publications and other helpful information. For example: 

Find Content

In order to find content that contains counter narratives and marginalized stories, here are a few tips:   

  • Think of multiple ways to describe the population you are looking for.  The “official” name for groups may have changed over time or have several ways of describing a group of people. Some primary sources may use outdated terms or terms modern scholars consider harmful.  

  • Learn how the library catalog or database describes certain populations in their Subject Headings.  Often the catalog or database will assume whiteness and maleness. They are not described as “White Male Authors”. Conversely, marginalized populations may be separated out in subject headings, and described as “Women Authors” or “African American Authors.” 

  • Take advantage of features within specific databases. Many databases will have unique search features, such as the New Play Exchange (NPX) which allows you to search for playwrights by gender, race, sexuality, and country or Person Search in some Gale databases which lets you search by gender, nationality, sexual identity, ethnicity, and occupation. 

  • Implement citation mining in your search. Once you have found an amazing source, see what sources they used in their works cited, and search for them. Then do forward citation mining to see who used the original source in THEIR works cited. This way you can track threads of the scholarly conversation around your topic through history. 

Librarians at Mason are working to change harmful subject headings in the catalog. If you have suggestions for how language might be improved, please use this form.