Race and Ethnicity in Empirical Research: An 18-Year Review

By Shelton, Kimber L.; Delgado-Romero, Edward A. et al. | Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, July 2009 | Go to article overview

Race and Ethnicity in Empirical Research: An 18-Year Review


Shelton, Kimber L., Delgado-Romero, Edward A., Wells, Eliza M., Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development


Extending previous research (E. A. Delgado-Romero, N. Galvan, P. Maschino, & M. Rowland, 2005) regarding race and ethnicity in counseling and counseling psychology, this article examined how race and ethnicity were reported and used in empirical studies published in diversity-focused journals from 1990 to 2007. The results are discussed and compared with previous findings.

Ampliando investigaciones anteriores (E. A. Delgado-Romero, N. Galvan, P. Maschino, & M. Rowland, 2005) sobre raza y etnicidad en la consejeria y psicologia terapeutica, este articulo examina como la raza y etnicidad fueron presentadas y utilizadas en los estudios empiricos aparecidos en publicaciones centradas en la diversidad desde 1990 hasta 2007. Los resultados se analizan y comparan con los de hallazgos anteriores.

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Although counseling has a mixed history regarding service provision and research with racial and ethnic minority populations in the United States (e.g., Guthrie, 2004), a consensus seems to be emerging that racial and ethnic minority-focused practice and research should be valued among mental health professionals (e.g., Arredondo et al., 1996; Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992). The attention to minority populations is reflected in the code of ethics of the American Counseling Association (Glosoff & Kocet, 2006) and in the increased number of publications focused on diversity, race, and ethnicity. For example, Arredondo, Rosen, Rice, Perez, and Tovar-Gamero (2005) documented an increase in the number of articles related to multicultural counseling in the Journal of Counseling & Development. Similarly, D'Andrea and Heckman (2008) reviewed 40 years of multicultural counseling outcome research and noted the increase in interest and sophistication of this line of research. The Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development (JMCD) in particular has made consistent and significant contributions to the area of diversity-focused research throughout its history (see Lau, Cisco, & Delgado-Romero, 2008; Leach, Behrens, & Rowe, 1996; Ponterotto, 1986; Pope-Davis, Ligiero, Liang, & Codrington, 2001).

However, even with the expressed endorsement of diversity and ethnic minority-focused research, issues remain concerning reporting race and ethnicity and determining research participants' race and ethnicity (see Cartel, Akinsulure-Smith, Smailes, & Clauss, 1998; Delgado-Romero, Galvan, Maschino, & Rowland, 2005). Although the reporting of race and ethnicity of sample populations is a matter of policy for research (e.g., American Psychological Association [APA], 2003), researchers do not universally report the racial and ethnic compositions of research participants. Delgado-Romero et al. investigated the issue of racial and ethnic categorization in empirical counseling research through an examination of 796 empirical studies published from 1990 to 1999 in the Journal of Counseling & Development, the Journal of Counseling Psychology, and The Counseling Psychologist. Over time, the reporting of race and ethnicity increased (26% in 1990 to 80% in 1999) but was not universal. For example, when included, race and ethnicity were reported in broad, general levels without specifics as to how a participant's race or ethnicity was determined.

Historically, the issues related to exclusion of ethnic minority populations in research led in part to the creation of associations, such as the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD) and affiliated journals, such JMCD, which focused on issues related to ethnic and racial minorities (JMCD was first called the Journal of Non-White Concerns in Personnel and Guidance, Bond, 1988). Journals such as JMCD have focused on multicultural issues and often featured the work of racial and ethnic minority authors (Hall & Maramba, 2001).

For the purpose of this study, we define diversity focused as journals that are focused on ethnic and racial minorities. …

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