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Department of Chemistry


Image of Melinda Duer courtesy Nathan Pitt

An article co-written by a Professor in this department argues that unconscious bias in academic publishing disadvantages women.

Academic publishing must do better on gender, published today in Times Higher Education (THE), proposes that publishers, editors and referees must do more to eliminate lurking biases in the academic publishing field.

Melinda Duer, Professor of Biological and Biomedical Chemistry and Deputy Warden of Robinson College co-wrote the article with Dame Athene Donald, Professor of Experimental Physics and Master of Churchill College. Together they write that the number of papers published and the journal impact factor have become "proxies" for assessing a researcher's worth - for promotion, job applications and funding new research projects.

At the same time, the current publishing model is "beset" with unconscious bias, which means that papers by minorities and women are under-represented, which not only hurts them, but also limits scientific progress.

The authors challenge publishers, editors and referees to check there is no "lurking bias, implicity or explicity" at every stage of the publication process.

They also urge universities to reconsider how data around publishing is used in promotions and appointments.

As the authors point out:  "The system needs fixing, not the women."


Access to articles in THE is by registration (free for three months) or subscription.