Quick Guide: Editing and Reviewing Indigenous Research and Writing


Many of the standard methods of scholarly publishing, editing, and peer-reviewing are disrespectful, culturally inappropriate, prejudiced, and misrepresentative of Indigenous Peoples. Within the growing subfield of Indigenous Librarianship (and scholarly publishing more broadly) there is a need for more respectful editing and peer-reviewing practices. Indigenized writing may break some of the so-called “rules” of non-Indigenous editors and peer-reviewers but it does so to respect the cultural integrity of Indigenous Peoples. This guide, which brings together several resources already written on the subject, will help publishers, editors, and peer-reviewers make more informed and culturally sensitive decisions when reviewing submissions by Indigenous Peoples and/or about Indigenous Librarianship.

For millennia, Indigenous Peoples with distinct traditions, cultural practices, histories, and knowledges have lived and thrived in the country now known as Canada. However, rather than acknowledging and celebrating Indigenous Knowledges grounded in the Oral Tradition, the publishing industry has, since its inception, “ignored, suppressed, misrepresented, whitewashed, and stolen Indigenous voices” (Taylor, 2020, p. 226). This, in turn, led to the colonial practice of transmitting ‘information’ about Indigenous Peoples rather than transmitting Indigenous Peoples’ perspectives about themselves (Younging, 2018). The historical and present-day privileging of Western notions of knowledge grounded in a European (typically British), White, male worldview deprives Indigenous Peoples of expressing and documenting their histories, philosophies, and realities as a basic matter of cultural integrity, while also denying non-Indigenous people the opportunity to learn of and from these realities (Younging, 2018). Indigenous scholars, writers, and researchers are subsequently placed in a difficult, if not impossible, decision: produce writing that conforms to Western standards of truth and validity, thus becoming complicit with White Euro-American hegemonic knowledge, or produce writing grounded in Indigenous Knowledges that non-Indigenous editors and peer reviewers overwhelmingly lack the cultural context to critique, let alone understand (Denzin & Lincoln, 2008; Kubota, 2019; Vowel, 2016). This infographic presents principles and advice for non-Indigenous editors and peer reviewers to begin editing and reviewing work by Indigenous writers in a sensitive, culturally appropriate way, and allows Indigenous scholars to “ensure that Indigenous material is expressed with the highest possible level of cultural authenticity, and in a manner that follows Indigenous Protocols and maintains Indigenous cultural integrity” (Younging, 2018). It is important to note that this infographic is not comprehensive, nor does it give a complete overview of the ways to decolonize the publishing environment. Many important concepts and themes such as relationality and relationship building, collaboration, and trust are not directly addressed here, but are critically important. Ideally, this infographic provides a first step, not a final stop, for non-Indigenous editors and peer-reviewers.


Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2008). Introduction: Critical methodologies and Indigenous inquiry. In N. K. Denzin, Y. S. Lincoln & L. T. Smith (Eds.), Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies (pp. 1–19). SAGE. https://doi.org/9781483385686.n1

Kubota, R. (2019). Confronting epistemological racism, decolonizing scholarly knowledge: Race and gender in applied linguistics. Applied Linguistics, 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amz033

Taylor, R. (2020). Gathering knowledges to inform best practices in Indigenous publishing. ariel: A Review of International English Literature, 51(2–3), 205–232. https://doi.org/10.1353/ari.2020.0015

Vowel, C. (2016). Indigenous writes: A guide to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit issues in Canada. HighWater Press.

Younging, G. (2018). Elements of Indigenous style: a guide for writing by and about Indigenous Peoples. Brush Education.

Geoffrey Boyd:

Geoffrey has worked for the past five years at the University of Northern British Columbia’s Geoffrey R. Weller Library, which sits on the unceded and Traditional Territory of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation. He is currently undertaking a Masters of Library and Information Studies degree from the University of Alberta and holds a BA in political science from the University of Victoria. Geoffrey specializes in communications and web service management at UNBC, which has drawn his research interest to scholarly and open access publishing. He/him.

Vanessa Welz:

Vanessa is the Alumni Volunteer Coordinator at University of Alberta, which is situated on ᐊᒥᐢᑿᒌᐚᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ (Amiskwacîwâskahikan) Treaty 6 territory, traditional Lands of First Nations and Métis people. Vanessa is responsible for managing 1000+ volunteers per year in projects that seek to involve alumni in student support, mentorship, and campus programs. With over 10 years experience in volunteer management, Vanessa strives to provide alumni with meaningful and mutually beneficial volunteer opportunities. Vanessa is certified in volunteer administration (CVA) and has a BA in psychology from the U of A. She is currently working on a Masters of Library and Information Studies. She/her.