5. Methods and Counting Crime
Research and statistics are powerful persuaders. They do much more than summarise “reality.” They interpret this reality and thereby influence the way we understand the people, cultures, and behaviours around us.
It is important for researchers to be prepared to deal with epistemological and diversity issues for a number of reasons, including the fact that Indigenous knowledge is increasingly part of an emerging global economy. There is an increasing volume of internationally funded research on colonised peoples. There is also an emerging trend to reach out to those who have been excluded in the past. Also, Indigenous knowledge and data are part of a larger conversation in relation to ethics, copyrights, and data sovereignty (Chilisa, 2020; Walter & Andersen, 2016). The principles of OCAP, which are ownership, control, access and possession, provide voice to Indigenous peoples and ensure they will have control over data collection processes and how the resulting information will be used (First Nations Information Governance Centre, 2022; Garrison et al., 2019).
It is likely that the new generation of researchers will create new methodologies and methods based on Indigenous knowledge systems and ways of knowing. These researchers may even attempt to privilege Indigenous voices and conduct research that benefits the researched societies.
Perhaps in the future, Indigenous and Western knowledge can consistently be integrated or conducted simultaneously to enhance the participation of Indigenous peoples in research efforts, improve the relevance of the research for the needs of the people, and improve dissemination of the research findings to communities.
As researchers, we need to thoughtfully and respectfully practise our methods with an ethical consideration of the quality of our work. We need to accept the responsibility to not harm anyone with our methods or our findings. If this can be done, and researchers attempt to address the needs of the research participants in the future, perhaps research will be more welcomed by Indigenous peoples and, as researchers, we can help strengthen the next seven generations.
The First Nations principles of ownership, control, access, and possession – more commonly known as OCAP – assert that First Nations have control over data collection processes, and that they own and control how this information can be used.