Objective This paper explores the body of knowledge around Indigenous health research and aims to outline what roles are appropriate for non-Indigenous researchers within Indigenous health research in Australia.
Methods A literature review was conducted using CINAHL, PubMed and Scopus in May 2015. The search terms were ‘non-Indigenous researchers’ AND ‘Indigenous health research’ and other combinations of these terms. Additional documents were sourced by hand using the reference lists of key articles.
Results Seven thematic categories were identified: (1) Closing the Gap: implications for research; (2) history of Indigenous research; (3) developing Indigenous research using a capacity-building approach; (4) the cultural interface between Western paradigms and Indigenous knowledge; (5) ethical Indigenous research; (6) culturally safe Indigenous research; and (7) positive roles for non-Indigenous researchers in Indigenous research.
Conclusion It is important that non-Indigenous researchers become more aware of culturally appropriate ways in which to undertake Indigenous research and to ensure that the research undertaken is safe, ethical and useful for participants. Fostering partnerships between non-Indigenous academic organisations and researchers and Indigenous health researchers is an important development that can promote and enhance the emerging field of Indigenous inquiry. Actively contributing to capacity building with Indigenous researchers and research initiatives is a key role that non-Indigenous researchers and academic institutions can have in improving Indigenous health. Self-determination through health research capacity building and evidence-based advocacy may provide the most useful outcomes for Indigenous people.