Many have asked me to explain my process of knowledge production at the doctoral level. Others have asked me to explain the academic peer-review process. This short blog should help.
On Knowledge Production:
Ph.D. students are expected to create knowledge. As a matter of fact, adding to the lineage of knowledge, along with course work and comprehensive examinations, is a criterion for obtaining a Ph.D. In most university departments during the process of creating knowledge doctoral students are expected to choose and articulate explicitly a method and theoretical framework. This methodology (method plus a theoretical framework) sets the parameters of knowledge production.
For the purpose of conveying information I will simplify this process. While sociologists use interviews as their method, historians use primary source documents, and anthropologists use participation - observation. Applying a theoretical framework to one's method also guides the knowledge creation process. For example, a sociologist who allows a feminist theoretical framework to shape their thinking will use interviews to look at women’s issues.
These methodological approaches are rooted in western knowledge philosophy. Most Indigenous scholars today continue to use these same western approaches through applying an Indigenous theoretical framework. For example, an Indigenous historian would apply an Indigenous theoretical framework to produce their knowledge creation on the effects of colonization in Indigenous Nations.
As an Indigenous scholar I sat in a very unusual place. I did not rely on western philosophy to guide my thinking and knowledge creation process. As such, in my dissertation work I also developed an Anishinaabeg methodology of knowledge production, and then I used this same methodology to produce my knowledge on the Algonquin land claims and self-government process. Indeed it is unusual for a Ph.D. student to make two major contributions like this. As stated, a doctoral student only has to add to the lineage of knowledge versus make two major contributions. I, though, am not a sociologist, historian, nor anthropologist. Rather, I am Indigenist.
Most people, even professors, do not understand my process of knowledge creation. When I speak publicly about my work they immediately ask me, “where do you sit in terms of the western disciplines?” They ask this question because they need to know where and how to assimilate my knowledge in their own thinking process. Most assume I am a political scientist because my topic was the Algonquin land claims and self-government process. When I respond that my work does not fit within western disciplinary parameters they are at first taken back. I then re-stress that my knowledge production relied on an ancient Indigenous methodology titled “Debwewin Journey” (which is both a method and a theoretical framework) that I developed from traditional Anishinaabeg teachings. At this point, some, not all, do begin to understand my process.
The Peer-Review Process:
The peer-review process is a long and grueling process where academic peers read, judge, and comment on your scholarly work in terms of its process of citation, intellectual and academic rigor, contribution, and usefulness. If the work passes the test of peer-review it is accepted for publication. Peer-review journal writing and publishing is the primary process of fostering intellectual inquiry and debate that potentially leads to policy, legislative, and institutional change.
I hope this helps. Let me know.