#BWNFridayPost: Community-engaged approach can help address bias and lack of diversity/inclusion in neuroscience research

link to full article and the paper it is discussing (authors: Shayna La Scala, Jordan L. Mullins, Rengin B. Firat, Kalina J. Michalska)

This article by Iqbal Pittalwala interviews Dr. Kalina Michalska (one of the authors of “Equity, diversity, and inclusion in developmental neuroscience: Practical lessons from community-based participatory research“), and discusses the benefits and importance of Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) for fighting bias in research. CBPR works to “actively involve the population of interest in the research process and require[s] collaboration and trust between community partners and researchers” for fighting bias in research.

Here are some insightful quotes from the interview article:

  • “CBPR asks: how will the lives of people in communities be impacted by a specific piece of research and do those people have a voice in whether and how the research will be conducted?”
  • “…as magnetic resonance imaging and other neuroscientific techniques get more incorporated into the mental health research agenda, it is incumbent on neuroscientists to pay close attention to diversity and representation in their work. Regrettably, in neuroscience, many discussions around these issues today do not involve the community under study.”
  • “We need to open communication channels and check in with our research participants to help minimize such biases,” she said. “Already, neuroscience research has a severe underrepresentation of marginalized groups as study participants; Black, Latina, and other women of color are conspicuously absent. Such exclusion directly harms communities and prevention and intervention approaches, such as medical protocols, mental health recommendations, and governmental policy creation, can get biased. CBPR can be a remedy and facilitate impactful change in neuroscience.”
  • “Including communities in the research design and interpretation can be a powerful learning opportunity for community members to experience first-hand how research is done,” she said. “This could especially empower young people.”

For more details about how this can be incorporated into a neuroscience research project, read the full paper it’s based on here!

CCN 2023: Conference on Cognitive Computational Neuroscience

conference link
August 24 – August 27, 2023
Programme Committee: Leyla Isik, Megan Peters, Laura Gwilliams, Gemma Roig, Nico Schuck, Eric Schulz, Maria Eckstein, Benjamin Peters, Jean-Remi King

Speakers gender ratio: 3 women, 3 men (50%)**
Estimated base rate of women in the field: 39%*
BWN rating: 3, within 1 standard deviation above base rate

*Method of estimation: previously established base rate of women in the computational neuroscience field and the cognitive neuroscience field

**We will update as more confirmed speakers get added!

#BWNFridayPost: “It Matters Who Does Science” by H. Holden Thorp

link to full article

This article is insightful, and discusses why and how it matters who is doing the science. Some quotes from it include:

“The soundbite “trust the science” has been circulating recently. This framing is unfortunate. Because “the science” in this context is usually a snapshot of ideas or facts in a particular moment—and often from the perspective of a small number of people (or even one person). It would have been better to use a phrase like “trust the scientific process,” which would imply that science is what we know now, the product of the work of many people over time, and principles that have reached consensus in the scientific community through established processes of peer review and transparent disclosure.”

“A monolithic group of scientists will bring many of the same preconceived notions to their work. But a group of many backgrounds will bring different points of view that decrease the chance that one prevailing set of views will bias the outcome. This means that scientific consensus can be reached faster and with greater reliability. It also means that the applications and implications will be more just for all.”

“Scientists should embrace their humanity rather than pretending that they are a bunch of automatons who instantly reach perfectly objective conclusions.”

Read more here!

#BWNFridayPost: “Scientists with intersecting privilege must work towards institutional inclusion” by Felicity M. Davis, Salah Elias & Vaishnavi Ananthanarayanan

link to full article

This article dives into the meaning of DEI in academia, and contains a list of steps discussing specific actions people–particularly those with intersecting privilege and power–should take in order to improve it. This specific list of steps can be undertaken by university leaders, and includes: Initial upskilling and continued personal development, Inclusive actions and timescales, and Resource commitment. Read the full paper here!