Diversity - Epistemic exclusion and research biases: How scholarly elitism limits scholarly innovation and relevance.

Nicole Buchanan, Ph.D. Department of Psychology Michigan State University

Sponsored by the P&BS Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee


NiCole T. Buchanan, Ph.D.


Michigan State University


Description of Talk:

Disciplinary norms are established by those who hold epistemic power and prestige due to their success working within the dominant discourse. Epistemic exclusion occurs when certain types of scholarship are defined as falling outside of a discipline’s dominant discourse. Such research is seen as violating disciplinary norms and both the research and those that study these topics are marginalized as a result. Dotson (2012, 2014) and others have argued that this type of disciplinary gatekeeping has a disproportionately negative impact on faculty of color because they are more likely to study non-traditional topics within a given field. Thus, epistemic exclusion is a way to non-accidentally marginalize faculty of color within academia because beliefs about who has subject matter expertise and what subjects are worthy of study are linked to prejudices about certain social groups. In this talk, I use data from 118 faculty interviews, 3 faculty focus groups, and a large faculty survey to illustrate formal and informal ways in which epistemic exclusion operates, and the consequences it has for the psychological well-being, job outcomes, and career trajectories of faculty of color.


Recommended Readings:

Buchanan, N. T., Perez, M., Prinstein, M., & Thurston, I. (2021). Upending Racism in Psychological Science: Strategies to Change How Our Science is Conducted, Reported, Reviewed, and Disseminated. American Psychologist76(7), 1097–1112https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000905 (Public Access: https://psyarxiv.com/6nk4x)

Dotson, K. (2012). A cautionary tale: On limiting epistemic oppression. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies33(1), 24-47. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5250/fronjwomestud.33.1.0024

Dotson, K. (2014). Conceptualizing epistemic oppression. Social Epistemology28(2), 115-138. https://doi.org/10.1080/02691728.2013.782585

Eagan Jr, M. K., & Garvey, J. C. (2015). Stressing out: Connecting race, gender, and stress with faculty productivity. The Journal of Higher Education86, 923-954.https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.2015.11777389

Roberts, S. O., Bareket-Shavit, C., Dollins, F. A., Goldie, P. D., & Mortenson, E. (2020). Racial inequality in psychological research: Trends of the past and recommendations for the future. Perspectives on psychological science15(6), 1295-1309. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691620927709

Settles, I. H.Buchanan, N. T., & Dotson, K. (2019)Scrutinized but not recognized: (In)visibility and hypervisibility experiences of faculty of color. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 113, 62-74.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2018.06.003

Settles, I. H., Jones, M. K., Buchanan, N. T. & Brassel, S. (2021). Epistemic exclusion of women faculty and faculty of color: Understanding scholar(ly) devaluation as a predictor of turnover intentions. Journal of Higher Education, 93, 31-55https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.2021.1914494


Presenter Bio:

NiCole T. Buchanan, Ph.D., Professor at Michigan State University. Dr. Buchanan researches the interplay of race, gender and victimization and how they impact the nature of harassment, its impact, and organizational best practices. She also studies faculty of color and ways in which their research is marginalized (i.e., epistemic exclusion). She has been highlighted in hundreds of media outlets, is a featured speaker including TEDx and National Public Radio (NPR) and provides bias and diversity-related training and consultation (e.g., medical professionals, faculty, clinicians, human resource managers, and police departments). Dr. Buchanan is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, four divisions of the American Psychological Association (Society of Clinical Psychology, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues, and Society for the Psychology of Women), and has received national and international awards for her research, teaching, and professional service. 



Buchanan, N. T. (2021, February)Epistemic exclusion and research biases: How scholarly elitism limits scholarly innovation and relevance. Washington University at St. Louis.




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