Leading Racial Justice Organizations Release Guide, Data Repository on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders

On November 6, 2013 Applied Research Center (ARC) was rebranded as Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation. The content on this page was published on the ARC website prior to the rebrand.

Contact: Rebekah Spicuglia

July 31, 2013 (Washington, DC) — The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) and the Applied Research Center (ARC) released today a comprehensive guide for researchers, think tanks, and policymakers on how to best document and report on the diversity, challenges and needs of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA & NHPI) communities.

Although AA & NHPIs are the fastest growing racial groups in the nation, most research and data oversimplify the ethnically and socioeconomically diverse communities and perpetuate the “model minority” myth. The 20.3 million AA & NHPIs in the United States face varying challenges and needs related to education, health care, discrimination and economic security. With accurate, disaggregated data on AA & NHPI communities, we can ensure that policies and programs include and reflect the needs of all communities.

“Best Practices: Researching Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders” is geared towards researchers, governmental agencies, philanthropic institutions and community groups. The guide details research gaps, tips for working with data, common pitfalls and best practices for conducting research including recommendations for engaging with community members.

“Often, AA & NHPI communities are painted with a broad brush in terms of research and data collection,’’ said Deepa Iyer, NCAPA chair and executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together. “We offer recommendations and suggestions that can be helpful to government agencies, research institutions, and community organizations alike to ensure that AA & NHPI communities are a real part of our data collection efforts on issues ranging from health to education to job attainment.”

"We urge researchers to check their assumptions about Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities when designing their studies," said ARC President Rinku Sen. "Failing to account for diversity further marginalizes millions of people and the challenges these communities face. Our hope is that this guide will lead to more transparent, accurate and inclusive data and research on groups that have too often been misrepresented by mainstream research and media.”

AA & NHPI communities have significant research needs. Recommendations for researchers include:

  • Disaggregating data to capture disparities across ethnic groups
  • Examining class, poverty and access to jobs/services of underserved ethnic groups
  • Examining racial and religious profiling and discrimination based on immigration status, skin tones, accents, sexual orientation, gender identity and more
  • Studying health care disparities as one in seven AA & NHPIs is uninsured

The “Best Practices” guide advises researchers to collaborate with community-based organizations, whose work and knowledge of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders help dispel misconceptions about the communities. In addition, the guide recommends that researchers provide separate race categories for AA & NHPIs as two distinct groups, oversample AA & NHPIs in order to ensure meaningful analysis and provide Asian-language and culturally appropriate support.

“We have seen a rapid increase in the availability of policy-relevant data on AA & NHPI communities in the past decade,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, professor at University of California, Riverside and director of the National Asian American Survey. “Now the focus is on improving the quality of the data collections, with various government, academic, and community-based research showing that these advancements are important and feasible.”

Many of these improved data collections can be found at one accessible site that Ramakrishnan developed in collaboration with NCAPA. The goal of this site is to house data on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in one location for researchers, journalists, and government agencies to use. The AA & NHPI Data Repository was launched simultaneously with the “Best Practices” guide, and can be found on the NCAPA web site at aapidata.com/repository.

The working group that produced the "Best Practices" guide grew out of a half-day, pre conference convening in November 2012 co-sponsored by ARC and NCAPA at the latter organization’s Facing Race conference.

To read the report, go to: Best Practices: Researching Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders http://ncapaonline.org/BestPracticesAANHPI.pdf



The Applied Research Center (ARC) is a thirty-year-old, national racial justice organization with a mission to build awareness, solutions and leadership for racial justice by generating transformative ideas, information and experiences. We define racial justice as the systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equal opportunities and outcomes for all and we work to advance racial justice through media, research, and leadership development. The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), founded in 1996, is a coalition of 30 national Asian Pacific American organizations. Based in Washington D.C, NCAPA serves to represent the interests of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA & NHPI) communities and to provide a national voice on policy issues and priorities.