Research Program & Methodology Framework

About the Policy & Research Program 

TechEquity Collaborative analyzes economic inequities within the tech industry and the inequities caused by the tech industry, with a focus on housing and labor issues. Our research program recognizes that directly impacted communities, namely people of color, are stewards of the information necessary to create a just society.  As such, our work centers people living at the intersections of various types of oppression in the prioritization, design, and goals of our research. 

As a Think/Do tank, we believe that research must not exist for its own sake, but to further the desired outcomes of those directly impacted by an issue, particularly those who are multi-marginalized. Our research follows rigorous community research standards. We are not academic researchers nor do we strive to meet academic research standards. Our goal is not to be neutral, but to apply research to advance structural changes for more just communities.

Ethics & Values 

The program is committed to the following values. We recognize that our commitment to these values is measured not only in outcomes but also in the decisions made throughout the research process. As a program, we: 

Understand that as an institution engaging in a field that is typically colonialist, racist, and extractive, we must work actively to dismantle harmful research norms.

To put this value into practice, we:

  • Design research campaigns with grassroots partners; recognize directly-impacted communities as contributors and partners, rather than subjects, of the research; compensate community researchers/contributors; work to maintain partnerships with community researchers; defer to community researchers in media, legislative, research, and public processes; prioritize insights from BIPOC communities in our analyses and solutions, and be transparent about our research motivations and how we foresee using the information we gather. 

Center those directly impacted by an issue as foremost experts, particularly those at the intersections of multiple types of oppression—racial, gender, sexuality, ability, and class.

To put this value into practice, we: 

  • Disaggregate data and analyze intersectional experiences; compensate community researchers/contributors; understand that deep analysis of disparities requires “oversampling.” 

Manage a strategic, applied research program. 

To put this value into practice, we:

  • Position our research as part of a larger campaign and advocacy strategy; Advance the solutions for structural change identified by directly-impacted researchers, as well as put forward analysis and solutions that address structural gaps. 

Believe that data about us should be available to and controlled by us, while at the same time recognizing that organizations and public agencies have a responsibility to protect sensitive data from being misused.

To put this value into practice, we: 

  • Allow community researchers to select their level of attribution and identification; allow community researchers to change their level of attribution and identification throughout the research process; share de-identified datasets with community researchers; make our datasets publicly available when participant identify, safety, and livelihood is not a risk; advocate for the publication of data held by public agencies in ways that empower rather than place vulnerable communities at greater risk of harm. 

Research Methodology

Below are the types of processes and methods TechEquity applies to our research program. This generalized methodology is akin to a template we use to guide our research and to write project-specific methodologies.


TechEquity research helps to bring daylight to emerging or unaddressed issues. Our work typically addresses the conditions that contribute to a given issue, as well as its impact across population subgroups. Given this approach, we prioritize (primary) qualitative research and augment it with quantitative analysis using existing datasets where they exist, based on the belief that public institutions must collect and publish information.  Where public datasets do not exist, and where funding allows, we develop independent quantitative datasets and advocate for data transparency. 

Secondary Research

We employ a mixed-method approach that begins with qualitative research and a scan of existing work in the field of study. We also issue Public Records Act requests to compile existing government data where it exists. Ultimately, we prioritize first-person original research over examinations of existing research, in light of the extractive and colonialist practices underpinning much of the existing research. We do, however, review existing work on an issue including prior research, organizing and advocacy efforts, journalism, and conduct literature reviews. 

We further our research by completing power and relationship mapping by  determining stakeholders in the following categories:

  • Impact Community— who is experiencing the issue or conditions we seek to understand? Throughout this methodology and our research, this group is also referred to as “Community Researchers.”
  • Public Agencies— which government entity is responsible (or, which should logically be responsible) for monitoring and enforcing regulations pertaining to our research question? 
  • Private Actors— are there companies, individuals, or other subgroups involved in the issue in some way, i.e. landlords?
  • Organizations and Academics 

Primary Research

After mapping stakeholders, we begin qualitative research. When the impact community is immediately clear and accessible, we begin research (typically interviews) with those stakeholders to develop and test our research questions. If not directly connected to community researchers, we begin with organizations that serve the impact community, then public and private institutions. Our qualitative research methods—in order of priority, when feasible—include:

  • Direct Interviews
  • Observational Research 
  • Focus Groups
  • Surveys

Resources that support this qualitative research include living consent and attribution documents—meaning that contributors can amend or withdraw their consent at any time—and a statement of transparency. Inspired by the Tech Worker Handbook, this statement will vary for each project but consistently contain background information on TechEquity Collaborative, project partners, project funding sources, how participant data will be used and protected, as well as recommended security and privacy measures (such as blind sampling) for participants, where appropriate. 

We typically begin with qualitative methods to build a deeper and more nuanced understanding of an issue set and its impact. Next, we augment with quantitative research to determine the scope and scale of impact. Quantitative methods include:

  • Reviewing public datasets 
  • Surveys 


During primary research, the Research Manager organizes audio files, survey responses, and research notes by tagging them with themes. During the analysis phase, we review the tags—both across the data group and disaggregated by demographic—for dominant patterns, outliers, and disparities. 

Capacity Note

In lieu of a Research Manager, the Research Director relies on survey consulting firms to analyze patterns, and on survey analysis tools such as those offered within SurveyMonkey. This approach allows the research program to work within its capacity to analyze datasets, but has also led to challenges with disaggregation and oversampling in favor of “in groups.”; filling a Research Manager role will enable more rigorous, nuanced, and timely analyses. 

After assessing patterns and disparities we consider the findings against historical contexts (redlining, Janus V. AFSCME, etc.) and structural dynamics (overpolicing, power differentials, housing costs, etc.) to determine what the analysis tells us and why it might be telling us that. Before publishing, we preview the findings with community researchers/individuals directly impacted by an issue as another opportunity for contextualization or disproving feedback. 

Additionally, we utilize our organizational Advisory Council. The Advisory Council is made up of subject matter experts and helps to evaluate our thesis and data collection methods. They also help to evaluate our results.


TechEquity commits to being transparent about the limitations of specific approaches used in our research. Examples of limitations from past research include oversampling as well as funding and compensation challenges, outlined below. 

Direct, relational research respects individuals as stewards of information that has the power to create more just communities. Thus, the approach disrupts some of the extractive research practices we are trying to combat; it also has limitations. Focusing on the experiences of those most harmed by a given issue means that we do not always get, or try to get, a representative sample. Our sampling practices have relied on people and organizations connected to TechEquity, and the people and organizations connected to them. This relational approach engenders more trust between TechEquity and community researchers but also poses the risk of confirmation bias or oversampling of certain demographics. 

After an initial phase, the Research team reviews preliminary results to assess representation. Where the results indicate overrepresentation of in-groups, we take steps to correct distribution and participation. Those steps may include targeted advertising, outreach to specific affinity groups, conversations with participants to understand the context for oversampling, looking for supplementary datasets/information on the underrepresented groups, and more. 

Funding and compensation for research participants are limitations as well. We have previously compensated qualitative research contributors because it requires a larger time and engagement commitment than quantitative; the scale of previous quantitative datasets could make compensation difficult at scale and with our current funding resources. As a small organization that does not always have the full financial resources necessary for a project at its outset, our research can experience delays if we need to fundraise mid-stream to meet our goals and compensation commitments. Right-sizing the scale of our research goals to what’s financially possible is an ongoing challenge. 

Final Products

TechEquity leaves the final research product open to what best suits the project, determined in collaboration with community researchers. Examples of past work include a report and microsite of research findings developed by the organization’s Civic Tech program. Options for current and upcoming work have included online Know Your Rights tools for community members, a database of identified “Bad Actor” landlords, and a streamlined resource to report housing discrimination to service organizations and state agencies. 

TechEquity is committed to applying the findings to campaigns for systems change to the extent it is productive. As a Think/Do tank, we believe that research must not exist for its own sake, but to further the desired outcomes of those directly impacted by an issue, particularly those who are multi-marginalized. 

Decolonial and antiracist research “communicates the lived experiences of marginalized groups so that the understanding of the problem and its response is more likely to be impactful to the community in the ways the community itself would want.” (Doucet, 2019). Where instructive, we intend to pursue legal, legislative, and community-based solutions to the issues identified during research. 

A Running List of Resources

  1. Decolonizing Methodologies in Qualitative Research: Creating Spaces for Transformative Praxis
  2. Identifying and Testing Strategies to Improve the Use of Antiracist Research Evidence through Critical Race Lenses
  3. Basic Methodology Components
  4. University of Minnesota Conducting Antiracist Research 
  5. Annie E. Casey Racial Equity in Data Integration 

Additional Decolonial Research Practices

 (from Thambinathan and Kinsella)

  1. “Exercising Critical Reflexivity,” which is to say understanding one’s positionality within the issues and systems at play, and adjusting research practices/course accordingly 
  2. “Reciprocity and Respect for Self-Determination,” which is to say co-ownership of the research process with directly-impacted researchers and a commitment to following their decisions about the data they provide
  3. “Embracing Other(ed) Ways of Knowing,” which is to say amending frameworks when community researchers identify an issue or discrepancy. 
  4. “Embodying a Transformative Praxis,” which is to say recognizing that this work focuses on process rather than outcomes and is bigger than one program, but rather needs to inform how we do all of our work.