SIG: Inclusion in Neuroscience - Post 10
Author: Joshua Hernandez
Research Assistant for the B-RAD Lab at the University of Alabama
To start off this new semester, our lab discussed the research paper titled Upending Racism in Psychological Science: Strategies to Change How Science is Conducted, Reported, Reviewed & Disseminated by NiCole T. Buchanan, Marisol Perez , Mitchell J. Prinstein, and Idia B. Thurston. The paper was brought to the lab by Nicole Friedman, who appreciated the authors’ focus on addressing each of the different steps that are considered when conducting and publishing scientific data. She also appreciated the papers’ commitment to an action plan and its plausible solutions to different racist tendencies within the research world. Another one of our lab members, Caleb Simon, also appreciated the papers’ commitment to physical and systemic change rather than just discussing change. Our labs P.I., Dr. Caitlin Hudac, found that she related to the article in its aims for accountability. She related it back to a personal story of having an accountability partner that aided her in accomplishing her many goals, both personal and professional.
The next thing that we discussed within the paper is system centered language. This type of language tries to specify the identifiable factors that one is discussing and tries to commit to talking about individuals as multi-dimensional. For instance, the article used “most prohibited” instead of “vulnerable” and “exposed to additional harms” instead of “at risk.” We concluded that this system of language was very helpful in communicating the highly complicated dynamics that are present in BIPOC participants and White researchers. Caleb brought up the papers’ important aim of distinguishing between race and ethnicity, and the papers’ reiteration of race being a socially and politically defined concept. Dr. Hudac expanded upon this point to say that race and ethnicity may not be static concepts and could be spoken about or described differently in the future. Another one of our lab interns, Skyler Hughes, spoke about the papers’ statistic that BIPOC research (whether conducted by a BIPOC scholar or on majority BIPOC participants) is 12 times less likely to be approved for publishing in journals, and when BIPOC research is approved it often must include the race or ethnicity of the population in the article title. Our lab went on to discuss the unfair standards that are present within this scenario. White majority participant research does not have to specify the race of their participants in the article title, or if a BIPOC participant majority is present in the study, some journals require researchers to include a White counterbalance group for the research to get published. Our lab was furious with these statistics and found them to be very disheartening and racist.
Our lab then went on to discuss the lack of BIPOC individuals on review boards and the impact, such as microaggressions, that this might have. We discussed the need for BIPOC individuals in every space within the scientific publishing process and the importance of having that shift in perspective. One of our labs research assistants, Joshua Hernandez, made a counter point that expecting so much from BIPOC people and consistently asking them to be the voice or eyes of Black scholars can be exhausting and not really fair. They spoke about how BIPOC scholars are more than just a commodity for diversity and might have their own desires within the field outside of expanding diversity. Dr. Hudac and Joshua raised excellent points about fair expectations for researchers and if there should be a "quota” for diversity in participants and how much that “quota” should be. Joshua pointed out that finding participants for one’s research can often be difficult, especially considering the participant's environmental obstacles that a lab is not privy to. Dr. Hudac had the counter point that if a researcher truly desired diversity within their participants they could wait to publish until that diversity was met. Caleb then mentioned that within the paper there is a statistic that states that Black scholars receive NIH funding at half the rate of White scholars. There are many racist structural obstacles present, and this must come to an end. The last thing our lab ruminated on was a point brought up by Nicole: in shifting administrations, funding consistently shifts on what the administration wants. Research funding might never be “safe” because it is often dependent on who is in office and how they want to allocate funding.
Buchanan, N. C. T., Perez, M., Prinstein, M. J., & Thurston, I. (2020). Upending racism in psychological science: Strategies to change how our science is conducted, reported, reviewed & disseminated. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/6nk4x
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