Researchers urge scientific community to stop pandemic bias

IƱaki del Olmo/Unsplash

A group of researchers is bringing attention to the effects the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could have the scientific community in a new paper published in the journal Nature.

The researchers also launched a social media campaign, #StopPandemicBias, which aims to bring broader understanding to how COVID-19 will impact scientists. Using the hashtag, they hope to crowdsource ideas that will mitigate the impact of the pandemic on research careers.

Citing the highly collaborative and participatory nature of science, the group believes that researchers who are most greatly impacted by COVID-19, those who are overwhelmed with care-giving responsibilities, those who are unable to do research outside of the laboratory setting, those who are unable to travel, and and those who are sick themselves, will be held back from advancing in their careers.

For example, a single parent who must home school their children might not have time to submit grants or review articles, or a recent graduate might not be able to travel to interview for a job. These limitations imposed by the pandemic could create barriers that do not exist for those who are not largely affected by the pandemic.

The researchers suggest several actions the scientific community can take to help prevent this bias. This includes supporting scholars who are unable to travel for opportunities, reviewing more articles and grants, and taking over teaching responsibilities for affected colleagues. They also urge institutions and funders to reconsider upcoming deadlines and criteria to create more leniency to those impacted by COVID-19.

Editor's note: Click here for more information and ongoing COVID-19 updates for integrative healthcare professionals.