Confronting Racism in Chemistry Journals
"Publications and citations are academic currency. and while we like to think publishing a manuscript is 'just about the science', we know that this is not true for everyone". The world's leading society publishers, American Chemical Society (ACS) Publications, announces its plans to aggressively combat bias in all aspects of the publishing process, including systemic under-representation of Blacks in this endeavor (no ACS journal is currently led by a Black Editor-in-Chief)
In a recently published joint editorial – across all ACS journals – ACS Publications' editors-in-chief and deputy editors acknowledge the deleterious impacts that racism and discrimination have had on scientists from underrepresented communities, especially Black chemists.
"We must examine our roles in enabling entrenched inequalities...and take action"
Over the last 30 years or so, we have been striving for gender equality across the science disciplines, and challenging gender barriers in the research funding and publishing pipelines – challenges that have been heightened through the current Covid-19 crisis, as fewer than normal research manuscripts are received from female academics, and significantly more from their male colleagues!
What is astonishing, is how little research there is to understand the challenges and effects of race and ethnicity on academic careers, research funding and publishing success – not just in the science disciplines, but across the academic spectrum..
It is timely, that ACS publications have decided to take action towards positive change across all ACS Publications journals. They have committed to taking these first few steps, which hopefully will lead the way for other publishers to follow suit:
- Gathering and making public our baseline statistics on diversity within our journals, encompassing our editors, advisors, reviewers, and authors; annually reporting on progress
- Training new and existing editors to recognize and interrupt bias in peer review
- Including diversity of journal contributors as an explicit measurement of Editor-in-Chief performance
- Appointing an ombudsperson to serve as a liaison between Editors and our Community
- Developing an actionable diversity plan for each ACS journal
"We all have a responsibility to eradicate racism and discrimination in the science and engineering community; indeed, to make a real difference, we need to be antiracist. The tragic events we have seen in the Black community provide great urgency to this goal. The work will be difficult and will force us to confront hard realities about our beliefs and actions. We fully expect that you, and everyone in the community, will hold us accountable"