#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!

#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!

cleanBib: Probabilistically assign gender and race proportions of first/last authors pairs in bibliography entries

This code base and diversity statement template by Dale Zhou et al was nominated to our DEI Repository by a Faculty member, who said “This resource has impacted how my lab evaluates and revises our reference lists in all of our scientific papers (prior to submission) to ensure that we are fairly canvassing marginalized scholars in our field.”

To use it, the nominator said: “We apply this code to the reference list of our paper. It provides us with information about how we are citing. Are we overciting scholars from majority groups (e.g., men, white people) and underciting scholars from minority groups (e.g., women, people of color)? If so, by how much? We use those percentages to drive us back to the literature to learn more about the scholars in our field and their work, and cite them accordingly.

This github repository provides code to check the predicted racial and gender makeup of your citations, so that you can see how the citations you selected compare to the base rates of published papers in your field. It also provides a diversity statement template which presents the information in a clear way. This is a great resource to use to ensure you are citing and conducting literature review in a less biased way!

Check out more resources from our DEI Repository and submit your own recommendations here!

#BWNFridayPost: Inclusive Leadership: From Awareness to Action

This book by Cheryl Williams and Ernest Gundling was nominated to our DEI Repository by a Graduate student, who said that through this book “I learned about how current standards of professionalism are exclusionary, and therefore what should be de-emphasized, as well as how to replace these standards by embracing and harnessing diversity.”

It provides actionable steps for leaders (or anyone working in group settings) to ensure that they are practicing inclusionary actions and not succumbing to unconcious biases! Additionally, according to the nominator, it is super easy to use: “It covers a lot of areas of inclusive leadership, I think someone could pick and choose chapters based on what skills they want to acquire as an inclusive leader.”

Check out more resources from our DEI Repository and submit your own recommendations here!

#BWNFridayPost: Women in Neuroscience: Four Women’s Contributions to Science and Society

This Review article is authored by Priscilla E. Yevoo and Arianna Maffei

Women in Neuroscience: Four Women’s Contributions to Science and Society” is a review article that discusses how women’s contributions to Neuroscience have historically been undervalued, and then highlights important work from four women neuroscientists: Dr. Sandhya Koushika, Dr. Eve Marder, Dr. Mary Jeanne Kreek, and Dr. Yasmin Hurd. Read the article to find our more about their inspiring work, as well as about equity in neuroscience more generally!

#BWNFridayPost: Incorporating female mice into neuroscience research

This article is based on this paper, and here is a twitter thread diving deeper into it by one of the authors.

Why we need female mice in neuroscience research” is an article that dives into the findings of this paper (“Mouse spontaneous behavior reflects individual variation rather than estrous state“) and discusses its findings that female mice have spontaneous behavior that is only “negligibly affected” by hormonal cycles, and actually have less variable spontaneous behavior than male mice. It then goes on to discuss how in neuroscience male mice are traditionally used, and since many of our findings about genes, neural circuits, and behavior are based on mouse research, using only male mice can prevent neuroscience from learning about how these aspects may differ in and impact females.

#BWNFridayPost: Gender, Racial, and Ethnic and Inequities in Receipt of Multiple National Institutes of Health Research Project Grants

This paper is written by Mytien Nguyen, Sarwat I. Chaudhry, Mayur M. Desai, et al 

This paper describes a cross-sectional study investigating the gender, racial, and ethnic diversity of NIH investigators in the last 30 years. This investigation found that, among PI’s receiving 3 or more research grants in this time period, female and Black PIs were significantly underrepresented. Read more about this here!