Epistemic Injustice: A Bibliometric Review by Antonio Delgado Baena & Antonio Sianes

Antonio Delgado Baena & Antonio Sianes have published a new article in ARJ: Epistemic injustice and dissidence: a bibliometric analysis of the literature on Participatory Action Research hosted on the Web of Science. They share their insights and surprises…

Did you know that the Web of Science, the most inaccessible and elitist of all scientific repositories, has collected more than 3000 articles on Participatory Action Research (PAR) in the last 35 years? We sure didn’t! And, like you now, we were at first amazed by such a figure.

However, soon after, some concerns arose: Is the collected production really representative of the work of all the researchers and practitioners spread around the world? Is the distribution equitable and balanced? How diverse are the topics and fields in which PAR is applied? And is all the knowledge generated by these processes really reflected in this academic production?

Determined to answer these questions, we committed ourselves to analyse this huge body of literature. After many years involved in participatory practices, we really wanted to know if there is a correspondence between the theoretical references of PAR, its practice in the field and its projection in the “top” academic literature.

For this, we had the best of allies: VosViewer, A metadata analysis software capable of analysing large amounts of data from large sets of articles. It also provides graphical representations, which not only look cool, but are pretty explanatory of the main findings. So, what did we find?

Not shockingly, we found that the deepest possible analysis of the evidence only confirms what most PAR practitioners in different parts of the world already felt: that knowledge transfer from the field to the “academy” occurs unevenly in these processes. Our old friend, coloniality (understood as those processes of domination that justify the hierarchy of relations between dominant and dominated), continues to be reproduced in academic production. Likewise, we have observed that there are situations of dissidence or epistemic disobedience that generate a certain dialectical tension between coloniality and decoloniality.

This tension causes that, in the most academically influential instances such as WoS, there are resounding silences and palpable absences of authors, works, languages, regions, etc., especially from certain latitudes and countries outside the opulent North. From the Research Institute on Policies for Social Transformation we believe that bridging this gap is essential to deepen the democratization of knowledge. Only by promoting access to and appropriation of the knowledge that people themselves generate in their participatory processes, will we be truly on the road to transforming society, generating a collective knowledge that lays the foundations for a dignified life.”

The forever link to read the full article: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/14767503221126531