Researcher works for diversity, inclusion in science, one journal at a time

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KINGSTON, RI – A researcher and colleagues at the University of Rhode Island (URI) who study invasive species have published a series of articles in the journal Biological invasions aiming to identify and address concerns about diversity, equity and inclusion in the review, which they believe will lead to a better understanding of invasive species around the world.

Laura Meyerson, URI Professor of Natural Resource Sciences and Associate Editor-in-Chief of Biological invasions, conducted an investigation of the journal’s editorial board, authors and reviewers to “define who we are and where we are located,” she said.

They found that the board of directors was “largely American, predominantly white, and with more men than women,” Meyerson said. “And most of our articles were published by Americans and Europeans, although there were also a lot from New Zealand. Anglophone countries dominated.

The journal’s Diversity Self-Study was inspired by discussions among many researchers in recent years about diversity and inclusion in science. Meyerson hopes this effort will inspire other journals in other disciplines to follow suit.

“It’s the right thing to do because it’s important that everyone is included,” she said. “But it’s also important to improve science. The science of invasion is a global science. Invasions come from one region to another, and if we don’t understand where species come from or how they behave, then we only have a partial picture and we don’t know as much as we think. know.

For example, in a global report Meyerson is preparing on invasive species, she noted large gaps in data from Africa and Asia as few articles have been published by scientists from those regions in peer-reviewed journals. reading in English.

“What this means is that if the people of these regions have not been able to publish their work, our science is impoverished, ”she said. “We make assumptions and assumptions and come to conclusions with only partial information. This means that the chances of success in controlling species invasions will decrease.

Meyerson’s co-authors on the new articles are Daniel Simberloff, University of Tennessee, the editor of Biological invasions; Sara Kuebbing, University of Pittsburgh; Martin Nuñez, University of Houston; Mariana Chiuffo, Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Argentina; Hanno Seebens, Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center, Germany; Matt McCary, Rice University; Deah Lieurance, University of Florida; and Bo Zhang, Oklahoma State University.

“By releasing these numbers and results, I hope we signal that a disproportionate representation of publishers based on nationality, race, ethnicity and gender relative to the general world population is important for reasons underlying ethics as well as to increase the global reach and diversity of perspectives in invasion biology, ”said Kuebbing.

The authors argue that increased diversity and inclusion in the journal will enrich the science by including data from more places around the world. And the inclusion of scientists from different cultures will bring new knowledge and perspectives on the interpretation and understanding of data.

“The risk of ignoring most of the planet when it comes to understanding ecological processes, such as biological invasions, is that we can end up with the wrong idea of ​​how nature works,” Nuñez said. .

Following the journal’s self-assessment, Meyerson said the editorial board of Biological invasions increases its geographic, racial and ethnic diversity. He also works with reviewers and editors to ensure that submitted articles are not rejected primarily due to gaps in English grammar.

“Authors should not incur an English tax,” she said. “If their science is good, we don’t want to dismiss it because they didn’t use the right adverb.”

Journal editors also proactively seek articles from regions rarely covered, including Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The abstracts of the articles will also be published in several languages ​​at the request of the authors.

In addition, authors, editors and reviewers are to be encouraged to use neutral language in their articles when possible. And in an effort to be respectful of the transgender community, name changes can be retroactively incorporated into past posts.

Meyerson said other science journals are starting to make claims about diversity and are trying to address similar concerns.

“When we look at science, it tends to be dominated by North Americans and Europeans, mostly white males,” she said. “There has been tremendous progress in recent years, and countries like Japan, China and India have produced fantastic science and are guiding us in so many ways. But in general, it is still a problem in all sciences.

– This press release originally appeared on the University of Rhode Island website

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