Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in Research

The Office of Research is committed to supporting efforts toward diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in alignment with WSU’s land-grant mission. The resources on this below are intended to aid WSU researchers as they consider questions around DEIA in their research and creative practice.

Research, scholarship, and creative activity can benefit from a focus on DEIA throughout their projects—whether it is in the composition of their lab, through agreements with communities for knowledge sharing, or by inclusive research models. Designing and carrying out projects through an equity lens provides opportunities for researchers to ask new questions, gain invaluable insight from multiple knowledge sources, and produce findings that are beneficial to all members of society.

Many funding agencies have articulated commitments to DEIA and increasingly require researchers to consider how diverse perspectives can advance research outcomes and to demonstrate how they will advance DEIA in their submitted proposals. The following table and linked resources provide a guide for any researcher to understand how to orient research practices and creative activities to enhance DEIA. We have also included a non-exhaustive list of DEIA requirements by federal agencies and individual funding programs.

To better inform their research questions with more widely applicable and translatable results, investigators can incorporate DEIA into their research by:

  • engaging the community to align your research goals and activities with community needs and values
  • including collaborators with diverse perspectives through geographic diversity and/or diverse expertise
  • include investigators from diverse backgrounds, including groups historically underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research workforce (see NOT-OD-20-031), such as underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, those with disabilities or from disadvantaged backgrounds, and women
  • recruiting research participants from diverse backgrounds
  • engaging with institutions and organizations that are research intensive, undergraduate-focused, minority-serving, and/or community-based
  • using infrastructure that provides research opportunities for researchers from diverse backgrounds
  • providing training and mentoring that encourages participation of students, postdoctoral researchers, and collaborators from diverse backgrounds

Defining Key Concepts

Focusing onHighlightsWith a goal to transform
InclusionRelationships and Experiences—involvement and integration of differences and what happens with group diversityEngagement—providing ways to provide a welcoming environment that invites contributions from diverse participants
DiversityComposition—the variability of characteristics within a group, where some differences are more important than othersRepresentation—ensuring appropriate reflection of population demographics among participants, leaders, researchers, etc.
EquityOutcomes and Root Structures—effects of power relationships and systems on group members’ life outcomes, particularly through patterns of disparity and disproportionalityOwnership—providing empowerment through shifting systems and conditions, thereby encouraging previously excluded and /or oppressed individuals and groups to become agents of their desired change
AccessibilityAvailability—A building, facility, structure, program, activity, resource, product etc. that is readily usable, or the extent to which it is readily usable by a person with a disabilityBarriers—Adjustments made to policies, programs, practices, facilities, or resources to allow for equitable access in the workplace. Accommodations are made in the hopes of achieving accessibility by eliminating existing barriers
Note: This table is adapted from Diversity, Inclusion, Equity table by Open Source Leadership Strategies, retrieved from OSLS Diversity Inclusion Equity Table (ncnonprofits.org), licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License and adapted definitions from the Glossary of Terms, a reference tool provided by the Canadian Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

Addressing DEIA Topics in Research Design and Execution

The following prompts should guide your thinking about the ways that DEIA topics come into play in many different elements of research design and execution. The questions posed will not all apply to every kind of research project.

Is the research team representative of the community with whom you are working or of the community to which your research will be translatable?If yes, you should say so in the proposal. If no, you might consider explaining why.
Are there opportunities for teams to incorporate categories of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility that are also present outside the research team?If yes, explain how.
Is there a balance in terms of gender, age, disciplinary background (when applicable), ethnicity, language skills, socioeconomic position, disability, and other attributes (see above)?If there is a balance, and/or you have made conscious efforts to seek a balance, then describe and explain in your proposal.
Does the research team include members from underrepresented groups?If yes, you should say so in your proposal.
Is it a goal that your team membership broadens research participation for members of underrepresented groups?If yes, you should say so in the proposal. (Note:  this might be appropriate for funding of science communication, including activities related to open science.)

For a management section/work package, it might be appropriate to discuss the diversity of the team and how you will ensure that it flourishes.

Do you have an advisory board with members from the community with whom you are working?If yes, describe how they are chosen and compensated.
Is there an external advisory board?If yes, how far does it represent relevant diverse voices?
Are early-stage researchers and those from nondominant backgrounds provided opportunities to participate in leadership roles that are not tokenized?If yes, describe how this will happen.
Do you have a conflict resolution procedure to deal specifically with issues related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility?If yes, you should state this in the proposal. If not, you should state your confidence that the conflict resolution for scientific matters also functions for other conflicts.

Is your research about aspects that can be translated to, or involve, a certain group or community of humans?If yes, do you involve the perspectives of that group in the design, execution of research methods, the analysis of results, and the reporting of findings? Describe in the proposal how you do this.

Community with whom you are working or to which your research is translatable

Have you created a list of all group inclusion/exclusion criteria?If so, list the criteria in your proposal.
Can you justify these criteria, so that they do not privilege one group over another on any dimension?If yes, consider justifying them in your text, especially if they seem contradictory.
Are there consequences of the selection criteria for both groups i.e., those included and those excluded?If yes, consider discussing these consequences in your text.
Can the results still be applied to larger groups (if applicable)?If yes, justify this generalization.
Are there groups that are often excluded from comparable research setups?If yes, consider explaining the reasons as well as the consequences.
Are new data(sets) required to include dimensions of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility?If yes, describe how you will acquire this data and incorporate it into your study.

Your Presence As the Researcher

Would you consider yourself a member of the community with whom you are working (if applicable)? Are others in your research team?If yes, mention this in the proposal, and describe its implications for the research process.
Consider how your positionality and conscious/unconscious biases might impact the study, including recruitment, data collection, analyses, dissemination, etc. by examining the ways in which your gender, nationality, ethnicity, language skills, physical ability, age, socio-economic background, etc. influence your views and how you evaluate and interpret others and their experiences.Describe in the proposal how you accommodate this impact and mitigate any risks it presents. If not, and if one could reasonably conclude that there should be an impact, you might consider describing how you will manage these.
If you do interviews, will your interviewees have a comparable level of proficiency in the interview language as you do?If yes, mention how you will accommodate these differences. If not, mention that it does not.


Do your data collection, data analysis, and their outputs assume homogeneity of anatomy, physiology, disease processes, cognition, and social behavior along dimensions of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility?If yes, spend time reflecting on this assumption. In the proposal, consider justifying this assumption and how you have made allowances.


Are there administrative unit/jurisdictional rules about reporting diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility that contradict procedures of your research?If yes, mention how you accommodate these rules.

Does your analysis team involve any members of the community you are working with?If yes, describe how. If word counts allow, consider briefly describing why this inclusion was not possible.
Have you ensured that you will avoid bias in statistical analyses, modeling, and other analyses?If yes, describe that you have done this, and how you have done this.

Do you have plans to report findings to the community with whom you are working or to which your research is translatable?If yes, describe how. If no, justify this.
Do you have plans to report your findings to a wide range of audiences—i.e., not just academics?If yes, describe those plans.
Have you thought about the assumptions you make about the homogeneity of your outreach audiences?If yes, consider describing this process when you assemble your dissemination plan.
Do you consider digital accessibility of your proposal and research output?
WSU Marketing & Communications maintains a variety of resources, including a quick checklist, to help faculty and staff improve digital accessibility and to meet university and state policy guidelines and statutory requirements.
If yes, include this in the proposal.
Will research results be presented at conferences that maintain a diverse speaker balance? If yes, say so in the proposal.

Have you considered the potential scientific, societal, and economic impact of addressing dimensions of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in your methodology and dissemination plans?If yes, include these impacts in your proposal. Also say that you have considered these potential impacts.
Does your research contribute to increasing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in society?If yes, you should certainly mention this in the proposal.
Does bringing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility dimensions to your research meet previously unmet needs or open new markets?If yes, you should mention this.

Has the proposal been reviewed for inclusive language, especially if it deals with a group that has been historically excluded?If yes, incorporate any changes and indicate that you have done this review.
Will other documents from the project be reviewed for inclusive language?If yes, incorporate any changes, and indicate that you have done (or intend to do) this review.
Will all materials from the proposed study (questionnaires, interview protocols, tasks, websites) be reviewed for understandability and/or usabilityIf yes, state this in the proposal.
Does the proposal have an inclusive reference list?If yes, state this in the proposal.

Review your proposal and related documents for inclusive language, especially if your project deals with a group that has been historically excluded. Also consider comprehensibility, usability, and accessibility for other materials used in your study, including questionnaires, interview protocols, tasks, and websites.

WSU University Marketing & Communications Editorial Style Guide includes a section on inclusive language. The recommendations should not be considered hard and fast rules, but they may be useful to researchers considering questions around inclusive language best practices.