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Choosing Non-mainstream Research Topics

Posted on March 19, 2007

Junior researchers interested in studying minority populations should also conduct "mainstream" research, suggests Hirokazu Yoshikawa (bio).

 

There are certain topics that are considered certainly more mainstream than others. I don't think, I think my process of getting tenure and moving into a senior faculty role would have been much more difficult if, for example, I was only doing research on gay men of color. That's a double minority population. Research on sexual minorities is, there's a reason why there's very little of this research, and that's because particularly in the field of psychology which is where I received tenure, it actually can be difficult to receive tenure if you're working with paradoxically these kind of hard to find or understudied populations.

So that's something that is, unfortunately, I think a fact of that particular field that needs to change, but is something that's I think important for junior faculty sometimes to know, that they should be combining the riskier work that might be with less popular methods or with topics that are not viewed as mainstream with work that communicates to the mainstream in some way. So, I think it's important to both do what you're passionate about, but unfortunately, you'll also have to be thinking about the pragmatics of academic settings and where the norms of a field currently are.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher in March 2006.

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