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The BIAS FREE
Co-operative, Inc.

"Working together to identify and eliminate inequities"

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THE BIAS FREE FRAMEWORK
ABOUT THE FRAMEWORK
THEORY AND CONCEPTS

What is most impressive to me, in viewing this Framework in action, is the innovative methods of realizing the human rights of marginalized people, thereby meeting their social and economic needs. The best practices and lessons learned through this project can be shared both across our country and within the international community… At the Thinking Women's Brain Spa this past April we were privileged to participate in an abbreviated BIAS FREE training session with many women leaders. At the end there was a very positive evaluation from all, including from me. It opened our eyes to a truly innovative way of dealing with "fairness" and inclusive decision-making.
Hon. Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P., M.D.
Member of Parliament of Canada, St. Paul’s Riding

As former board member of the Global Health Research Foundation, I heard of the BIAS FREE Framework. When I met Mary Anne Burke and we discussed the Framework, I was very impressed by her and the BIAS FREE approach. Immediately, I saw its potential application for the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and enhancing medical education curricula in Canada and globally. As I learned about the BIAS FREE Co-operative, Inc., I quickly identified with its goal to support individuals, groups, communities, organizations and institutions across all spectrums of society, in high-, middle-, and low-income countries alike to use the Framework to recognize biases deriving from sexism, ableism, racism, and other social hierarchies and to suggest ways to overcome them. The Co-operative’s slogan, “Working together to identify and eliminate inequities” captures the spirit of the Co-operative as well as the Framework.
Michael W Clarke, PhD, Director
Research for Health Equity, International Development Research Centre, Ottawa

I think you’ve produced an extremely important, practical and much-needed document that is going to be of significant use to researchers and policy makers. As I read through it, I was continually applying its methods and questions to my own on-going work and found the use of your template extremely useful in identifying possible gaps and oversights in my methods, research questions and analyses. From the point of view of someone (like myself) who is sympathetic to the approach you’ve developed and, particularly to the project, ie. the need to promote and seek equality and non-oppression for vulnerable populations, this framework will be a very useful tool… It so clearly illustrates how bias operates and how applying the BIAS FREE Framework allows us to “see” differently and the very material consequences that follow from this.
Roxanne Mykitiuk, Associate Professor of Law
Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, ON

The BIAS FREE Framework provides a useful tool for the identification and elimination of bias in health research. The utility of The BIAS FREE Framework goes beyond the specific context of health research and extends to human subject research generally and to the policy and law reform contexts as well… Drawing on the insights of feminist scholarship and critical race and critical disability scholarship the authors highlight the importance of identifying the values that underlie research and go on to deconstruct the concept of scientific objectivity noting that “the mere aspiration of objectivity must not be mistaken as satisfying the conditions of objectivity… The BIAS FREE Framework is posited on the equal entitlement of all people to be treated with dignity and respect and on the inviolability of human rights and it uses a rights-based model of health and well being. In speaking of equality the authors make it clear they are referring to equality of outcomes not simply equality of opportunity…Finally I would like to congratulate the authors on the development of a very important and useful tool for examining and eliminating the biases that derive from social hierarchies and one which while framed in the context of health research will have a broad application in other areas.
Lee Ann Basser, Associate Professor of Law
La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Adjunct Faculty

That 'power structures within a society serve to reinforce and maintain the various social hierarchies' may be undisputed, however, the fact that they are manifest across the economic spectrum and the uncertainty about what can be done has teased educators, researchers, and policy makers for decades. Finally, we now have a practical tool that is meticulously constructed, rigorously underpinned by theory, well referenced, and is challenging… Biases in the way we research problems can be a matter of life or death, biased research is bad research, this text is long overdue. The authors highlight the gravity of failing to remove biases and emphasise the need to remove biases that derive from all types of social hierarchies. They consistently direct the reader to the structural and organisational determinants of health thus minimizing the pathologisation of non-dominant members of society. Although the text focuses on the health sector and on health research in particular, the framework is transferable to any policy sector and across legislation, policy development, programmes and practices as well as research.
Margaret Sills, Academic Director
Higher Education Academy Health Sciences and Practice Subject Centre King's College London

The worst myth that most good people have about bias, prejudice, discrimination, and exclusion is that only bad people do these things... Unfortunately, in the real world, most exclusion is done by good people who don’t even realize that they might be creating barriers simply by carrying on with business as usual... Exclusion caused by good people is often the hardest kind of exclusion to overcome because it first means helping people to understand that “being a good person” and “being a person who excludes others” are not mutually exclusive concepts... we can only remove sources of bias in our research, policies, programs, services, and practices if we first learn how to see the bias…The BIAS FREE Framework discusses how bias creeps in and serves to perpetuate social hierarchies; how we tend to both overlook differences and also to exaggerate them; how many of us forget to account for the complex social hierarchies within gender, race, and disability issues, as well as across them. It discusses how people can identify and minimize these biases.
Andrea Shettle, Writing/Research Assistant
to the Speech Writer for the World Bank President, Office of the President of the World Bank

The BIAS FREE Framework crystallizes thoughts around the existence of biases and is an invaluable tool to my students for uncovering biases in the debate of issues and in their own approach to the issues. Furthermore, this tool is very useful to equity-seeking NGOs. Members of the Ad Hoc Committee involved with writing the UN Convention on the rights of disabled people were very impressed by the BIAS FREE Framework and its potential. I know many disabled people and policy makers who are already using the tool.
Dr. Gregor Wolbring, Professor
Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Faculty of Medicine University of Calgary, Canada Adjunct Assistant Professor for bioethical issues, Faculty of Education, University of Calgary. Founder and Executive director of the International Center for Bioethics, Culture and Disability

I left the Workshop today with the same sense of euphoria and hope as I had the day they released Nelson Mandela from jail…
Fred Koopman, Scientist
Medical Research Council, South Africa

I came prepared to have my horizons broadened. You did not do this. You totally transformed my horizons! The BIAS FREE Framework has given me new eyes to see the world. I will never see things again the same way.
Louise Plouffe, WHO Age-friendly Cities Initiative

I learned to recognize that I am worthy, that I am somebody and did not come into the world to be walked over…
Hospital official in the 2001 Costa Rica Workshop who was experiencing domestic violence

By using this tool, researchers and policy-makers will systematically question individual and societal bias and will, therefore, be able to inform decision-makers with clear, objective findings. The BIAS FREE Framework will revolutionize research and science policies. A major step towards justice.
Lorraine Touchette, Senior Policy Advisor
Science and Technology Community Management Secretariat, Government of Canada

We fully recognize that we [CDC] would not receive such positive feedback from session participants without your excellent presentation skills and you ability to create an open learning environment. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to work together again in the future.
Drue H. Barrett, Public Health Ethics Coordinator
Office of the Chief Science Officer, Centers for Disease Control and Promotion (CDC), Atlanta, USA

Those leading the change process knew "what" they wanted to do, but for two years were at a standstill as they did not know "how" to do it. In 2001, a workshop introducing them to the BIAS FREE Framework was the key to unblocking the process; it gave them the "how" they had been missing.
Jessica MacDonald Quiceno, Researcher
San Jose, Costa Rica

An unusually sensitive, subtle, and incisive tool that can have immense value for self-critical reflection and transformation. Much of its power lies in its ability to be applied to a variety of issues in any context.
Richard Jordi, Researcher
Industrial Health Research Group, University of Cape Town, South Africa

The BIAS FREE Framework has offered me the opportunity to engage with really difficult issues in a systematic and constructive manner through the skilful guidance of the facilitators...My experience was an encouraging one that brought several issues to light. It provided a way to identify and manage work-related and other issues more effectively. It enthused me to pay attention to detail.
Shegs James, Senior Scientist
Medical Research Council, South Africa

I have done so many research activities and write many reports. After learning the BIAS FREE Framework, I wish I could ask back all the reports I have written and submitted to various areas for re-writing because I see obvious biases.
Selemani Mybuyita, MPH/Researcher
IFIKARA Research Centre, Tanzania

Understanding the manipulation of the BIAS FREE Framework can lead one to reduce scientific biases in research at all stages of writing either articles or proposal for funding purposes.
Williams Makunde, Scientist
National Institute for Medical Research, Tanzania

I used to work or do research and think that I am BIAS FREE. After attending this course I have found out that I was not. The course has opened my mind. I know now where I went wrong, how and why. The BIAS FREE Framework should be used by all those who are truly addressing health rights, equity and social justice issues. I thank you...The BIAS FREE Framework provides a common language and understanding of bias (ways which promote/maintain oppression). The Framework provides a way to bring together diverse people to think about oppression without engaging in the “'oppression Olympics” and without assuming an “equality of oppression” as well. Well Done!
Mwajuma Saiddy Masaiganah, Researcher
People's Health Movement, Equinet, Tanzania

I have witnessed how the said Framework if used properly can make medical research more bias-free.
Joseph Mwanga, Scientist
National Institute for Medical Research, Tanzania

The Framework has made me look at articulating articles, scientific or general in a much broader perspective. In a sense it has really added value to my analytical skills.
Ssanyu Nyinondi, Researcher
IFIKARA; Tanzania

A shocking "Paradigm Shift" Experience!!! It opened a whole new world of thinking...It was overwhelmingly interesting; well conducted and the manner in which concepts were introduced was highly effective - demonstrating the great experience & expertise of the facilitators (and their warmth is acknowledged). It was a growing experience for me - well worth the 2 days!
Lungi Kwitshana, Scientist
Medical Research Council, South Africa

The workshop provided so much clarity & information that will help me not only in my research but also in my day to day life. I hope that the issues raised in our organisation can be a point of departure & lead to fruition, but that case-study gives me ample hope.
Anonymous, Scientist
Medical Research Council, South Africa

BIAS FREE Framework is an essential part of growth of an individual, an institution or a community. I was made aware of areas in my judgement that had gaps in my view points. I did not consider a lot of the areas in totality and include gender e.g. in all my areas of assessment.
Millie Naicke, Scientist
Medical Research Council, South Africa

It is an excellent opportunity for participants as it gives them an opportunity to relook at their workplaces and themselves. It helps to identify shortcomings in the workplace, institution and oneself by discussion. Using the Framework can start by changing their own views & shortcomings before moving onto changing the workplace/institution.
Devi Veerasami, Scientist
Medical Research Council, South Africa

The workshop was very active, it actually taught me how to voice myself out and be confident. The tasks that we were given were very helpful. And we able to know much of hierarchy because come to think of it, I realize I've been maintaining hierarchy in my work so you have taught me a lot.
Mutep Daphney, Researcher
Medical Research Council, South Africa

I am not so talkative but I try to voice my opinions and when I do it always comes out wrong so I prefer keeping quiet. But this workshop gives empowerment to realise that it is not wrong for one to stand-up for themselves in seeking fairness in life. The workshop gives people the knowledge that they do indeed deserve to be treated right and that they do have rights. We do love you.
Muyunda Mutemwa, Researcher
Medical Research Council, South Africa

Wow, the experience was very good and I think this was an eye opener in a lot of ways. In clarifying a lot of issues about the sciences and how important they are and how much they need each other. I think all countries need this kind of a Framework to be represent their communities. Being part of the workshop opened my eyes about how much domination the ones in power really dictates - decision making for everyone.
Thetole, Researcher
Medical Research Council, South Africa

I have been moved from my comfort zone to a zone of light....It was an eye-opener. I didn't know what to expect and I like the fact that the can of worms is open but not just left that way. But I'm certain that it will allow the platform for discussion. I enjoyed learning & participating in this. You are very good at what you do and may God abundantly bless you. Thank You.
Nontlanita Mdletshe, Researcher
Medical Research Council, South Africa

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Last Updated: 05-November-2011
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