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Disability Research Mentorship Program for Black Graduate Students

In the wake of the protests which continue to call out the glaring racial injustices and horrific police brutality affecting the lives of Black people across the country, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership is introducing a research mentorship program to help lift up and provide opportunities for Black graduate students studying disability.

Since 1969, CQL has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. The vision of CQL is a world of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people. The fight against injustice and for equality is embedded into this vision. As such, it is important for us as an organization to reflect on the steps we can take to be anti-racist and promote the equality of Black people.

We know that when trying to find jobs, academics and researchers are often judged on their history of publications and presentations; yet, graduate students’ ability to achieve these things is largely based on who gives them opportunities to access existing projects, funding, and/or data. We recognize that systemic racism, prejudice, and microaggressions all impact who gets those opportunities. For these reasons, we are introducing a new research mentorship program specifically aimed at helping provide Black students with opportunities to build up their resumes with research publications.

This Disability Research Mentorship Program for Black Graduate Students will not only provide students with access to a large dataset to analyze, but also will support and mentor the students as they navigate the research and peer-review publication process. By the end of this Mentorship Program, the aim is for students to have an accepted/in-press or under review peer-reviewed publication (sole or first author) which they can add to their CV. There will also be an opportunity for students to present their work publicly.

Data Available for Research

Students in the Mentorship Program will be able to choose from two different sources of CQL data to formulate and explore their research questions: Personal Outcome Measures® data; and, ableism and prejudice data.

Personal Outcomes Measures® Quality of Life Data

The Personal Outcome Measures® (POM) is a person-centered quality of life tool, exploring the presence, importance, and achievement of outcomes, along with the supports that help people achieve those outcomes. Our POM data, which encompasses interviews from thousands of people with disabilities, includes approximately 400 variables, comprising of demographic data and data about a wide range of quality of life areas (see Personal Outcome Measures® for more information about the topics included). To help guide the development of your research ideas, examples of a few of our studies using these data include:

Ableism and Disability Attitude Data

Students also have the option of analyzing ableism and prejudice data. These data include demographic data and implicit (unconscious) disability attitude data from hundreds of thousands of people from across the country and around the world. In addition, we also have access to data about racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, and anti-fat bias which can be paired with the ableism data. These data can also be paired with other publicly available data (see examples below) for correlation analyses. To help guide the development of your research ideas, examples of a few of our studies using these data include:

All of the data we have available is quantitative. However, if you don’t have a quantitative background, you can still participate – we can co-analyze and co-write the findings with you.

Disability Research Mentorship Program Process

Students in the Mentorship Program will be mentored about disability research and publication by CQL’s Director of Research, Carli Friedman, Ph.D., as well as CQL’s President and CEO, Mary Kay Rizzolo, Ph.D. Both Carli and Mary Kay have extensive experience with mixed methods disability research, journal articles, and peer review.

Students will receive guidance regarding how to conduct research for publication and successfully navigate the peer-review process. We will help provide guidance for students in refining research questions, conducting literature reviews, conducting the analysis, structuring and writing the journal article, submitting the article for peer review, and responding to feedback from reviewers. If applicable, we are also happy to sign off on independent study hours for your graduate program.

We recognize that graduate students not only face a large workload, but Black graduate students also face institutional racism and microaggressions. As a result, the length of the mentorship program is flexible – while we plan to offer ongoing support and believe this program will last about a year (per student), we will work with the selected students to determine the best timeline for them. This program is designed to support Black graduate students to build up their CV, not increase their burden or stress.

How to Apply

If interested in applying for this Disability Research Mentorship Program for Black Graduate Students, we ask that you complete the following application.

  • Applicants will be asked about their research interests as well as what they hope to use the CQL data to analyze.
  • Applications will be judged based on their proposed research project and its relevance to promoting the quality of life of people with disabilities.
  • Applicants must be a Black graduate student in the United States studying disability.
  • Graduate students are encouraged to apply even if they do not have a background in quantitative research or a history of peer-reviewed publications.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until this year’s mentorship student/s have been selected. We will begin reviewing applications at the end of July 2020.

For questions or if you would like more information about our data in order to form your research idea for the project, please contact CQL’s Director of Research, Carli Friedman.

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Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.