The University of Texas at Austin Latino Research Initiative

Our Approach to Research

At the Latino Research Institute, we apply several research frameworks to our work in the following areas: Youth and Families; Women’s Health Across the Lifespan; U.S.-Mexico Binational Studies on Migration and Health; Mental Health; and LGBTQ Health. 


Study participants exercisingOn Intersectionality

Intersectional research is a theoretical framework and strategy that begins with the experiences of marginalized groups and examines the interconnected structures of power that affect individual and group identities and choices. This approach promotes social justice and social change by linking research and practice. 


On Implementation Science

The Latino Research Institute’s action-based approach is informed by the lessons of implementation science, defined as “the scientific study of methods to promote the systematic uptake of research findings and other evidence-based practices into routine practice, and, hence, to improve the quality and effectiveness of health services.”

One of the common vexations of social science research is that it simply takes too long for a research study to have any observable impact in the community. This delay has, unfortunately, sown skepticism among the community partners that many researchers rely on to effectively carry out research. By engaging with implementation science on the front end of a project, our researchers are more likely to arrive at actionable outcomes and provide increased returns to the community members whose time and effort have heavily informed the research. In other words, we want our work to do something. Implementation science helps us do that.  


On Community-Based Participatory Research

Social science research in Latino communities depends on healthy community relationships. Unfortunately, there is a long history of academic institutions abusing these relationships and exploiting communities for their own academic gain. Even researchers with the best intentions are likely to face reluctant or even hostile communities who are justified in feeling, at times, like the purported mutual benefits of any given project are anything but that. In many cases, community wisdom is  discounted and local activism is ignored, when in fact, both are essential additions to any community study. 

For these reasons, the Latino Research Institute has devoted a considerable amount of time to developing best practices when it comes to community-engaged research. Our researchers are members of the community and approach their work as such, mindful that it’s not only capital S scholars that bring something to the table.