The Predator Effect: Understanding the Past, Present and Future of Deceptive Academic Journals

During his time working at Cabells, predatory publishing practices turned into a near obsession for Simon Linacre – so much so, he wrote a book about it: The Predator Effect. Here he shares details of the book, and how predatory journals could form part of a publishing ethics crisis.


In a recent conversation with a senior academic regarding publishing ethics, the discussion veered between predatory publishing, paper mills, paraphrasing software and the question of whether an article written by AI could be regarded as an original piece of work. Shaking his head, the academic sighed and exclaimed: “Retirement is starting to look pretty good right now!” The conversation demonstrated what a lot of people in scholarly communications feel right now, which is that at this moment in time, we are losing the arms race when it comes to research integrity and publishing ethics.

In the last year, we have seen the number of predatory journals included on Cabells’ Predatory Report database approach 17,000, thousands of articles be retracted by major publishers such as Wiley and IoP, and major scandals, such as one I worked on with Digital Science company Ripeta, where one author was responsible for dozens of plagiarised articles. The concern is that many more articles might have leaked into the scholarly communications system from paper mills, and this coupled with leaps in technology that enable students and authors to buy essays and articles generated by AI without lifting a finger themselves. Now wonder older scholars who didn’t have to deal with such technologies are shaking their heads in despair.

Negative Impact

These issues can be rather abstract as they don’t necessarily translate into tangible impacts for most people, but this also means they can be misunderstood and underestimated. For example, what happens when an individual reads about a cure in a predatory journal and tries to use it and makes the condition of a patient worse? Or what about someone qualifying for a position based on coursework they cheated on? There are numerous instances where a breakdown in ethics and integrity can cause major problems.

More broadly, the whole fabric of trust that society has in academic research risks being undermined with so many options open to bad actors if they wish to buck the system for their own ends. We have seen this with the fateful Wakefield article about the MMR vaccine in the 1990s, the effects of which are still being felt today. That was an anomaly, but if people ceased to believe that published research was trustworthy because of these numerous threats, then we will indeed be in a perilous position.

Digital Solutions

The scale of these problems can be seen in three recent publications, which I discussed in a recent talk at the ConTech 2022 Conference in London:

  • In September, The State of Trust & Integrity in Research (STIR) report was published by Ripeta, which outlined some of the issues facing research integrity, and how greater standardisation and investment in technology is required
  • In October, the State of Open Data (SoOD) report was published by Figshare, Digital Science and Springer Nature. It produced the results of a huge survey of researchers which showed open data sharing was only growing gradually, and policymaking needed to be more joined up and consistent
  • In November, The Predator Effect was published – a short open access ebook detailing the history and impact of predatory publishing practices. 

While each of these publications offers some sobering findings in terms of the problems faced by scholarly communications, they also offer some hope that technology might provide some solutions in the future. In terms of predatory journals, this means using not only using technology as one solution, but using multiple solutions together in a joined up way. As I say in the book:

“Using technology to improve hygiene factors such as legitimate references may be another strategy that, if adopted together and more widely, will have a significant impact on predatory journal output.” (Linacre, 2022)

Concerns around trust in science are real, but so is the anticipation that technology can show how scholarly communications can move forward. As a former publisher, I thought technology could easily solve the problem, but thanks to working at Cabells I understood much more work is required in equipping researchers with the right tools, knowledge and know how to avoid predatory journals. In the past, collaboration in the industry has often been slow and not fully inclusive, but this will have to change if a breakdown in research integrity and publication ethics is going to be avoided.

Talkin’ SDGs in Charleston and The Netherlands

Last month, Cabells was lucky enough to attend two of our favorite conferences – the Charleston Library Conference, appropriately held in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina, and GBSN Beyond, the annual conference of the Global Business School Network (GBSN), this year held in The Netherlands. We were excited to attend the events not just due to the amazing locations, or to once again be together with the scholarly community (something we have sorely missed), but also for the chance to spread the word on a project we are passionate about – helping publishers, researchers, educators, and practitioners work together to achieve the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs are 17 interconnected goals covering a wide range of environmental, social, and economic issues which represent a universal call to action for building a more sustainable planet by 2030. We have previously covered (here and here) our work to connect SDG-focused research to practitioners, and on the continued progress (here) of our collaboration with Dr. David Steingard and his team from Saint Joseph’s University’s Haub School of Business, to develop the SDG Impact IntensityTM (SDGII) journal rating, a publisher-neutral, AI-driven academic rating system assessing scholarly impact on the SDGs.

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Our first stop was the Charleston Library Conference, where our project manager, Clarice Martel, took part in an outstanding panel to present, “Sustainability, Open Science, and Scholarly Communications.” The session discussed ways that the scientific community, publishers, and librarians can drive change and wider societal outreach through open science policies and by embracing SDGs as a key topic in research impact, mission, and practice. Clarice was joined on the panel by Robin Kear, Liaison Librarian at the University of Pittsburgh, Lucy Frisch, Director of Content Marketing Strategy at Springer Nature, and Laura Helmuth, who is the editor in chief of Scientific American.

Clarice, Lucy, Robin, and Laura at the Charleston Library Conference.

Having a panel comprised of knowledgeable and passionate stakeholders from all corners of scholarly communication was key in creating a comprehensive and action-inspiring session. Themes that ran through each part of the presentation were the vital importance of advocating for open access (OA) research, further development of OA-focused resources and related initiatives, and the importance of supporting education and action plans around SDGs and other sustainability-focused science.

Clarice presenting at the Charleston Library Conference

Clarice highlighted Cabells work with the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI), an open partnership between several UN entities and the higher education community. HESI aims to create an interface between higher education, science, and policy-making by supporting sustainable development, convening multi-stakeholder discussions and action, and sharing best practices. Stressing the importance of establishing and adhering to best practices and driving action around SDGs, Clarice also discussed our work as part of the SDG Publishers Compact Fellows group, focusing on action tips to put research into practice.

A few days later, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Dr. Julia Neufeind, journal metric scientist at Cabells, joined forces with Dr. Steingard to present, “Measuring the Relevance of Academic Research in Terms of the SDGs” at GBSN Beyond. The session touched on several crucial issues in need of attention and action, such as the paucity of articles published (only 2.8% as of December 2021) in ‘top-tier’ journals that address SDGs and related research, and the need to transform from ‘quality’ to ‘impact’ when assessing academic publications.

Jula and David presenting at GBSN Beyond in The Netherlands

That’s where the SDGII comes in, as a tool for measuring and reporting faculty impact on the SDGs through published research. Julia and David were excited to present our work so far in developing and promoting the SDGII, and to update attendees on the progress of schools participating in our pilot program. We think the SDGII can play a crucial role in helping to achieve the GBSN’s vision of “enabling business schools to profoundly impact sustainable development worldwide—through education, research, and community engagement,” which is a goal we share.

We are committed to further developing the SDGII and will continue our efforts to encourage all areas of science to share in incentivizing researchers to perform work that addresses the SDGs, and to highlight journals that recognize and prioritize these global challenges.

Peer Review Week 2022: If Research Integrity is About Research, What Part Does Peer Review Play?

This week is Peer Review Week, “a community-led yearly global virtual event celebrating the essential role that peer review plays in maintaining research quality,” and a time of joy for Cabells. Protecting research quality and integrity is at the core of our mission, and supporting initiatives around this issue is very important to us. Our work as a company in researching and evaluating journals and providing key information on their peer review processes, among many other things, is built on this foundation – protecting and facilitating, however we can, research integrity.

Peer Review Week (PRW) brings together stakeholders from all corners of scholarly communications to champion peer review and the critical role that it plays, share innovations and research, and strengthen best practices. Cabells was excited not only to join the PRW Steering Committee to help guide this week’s efforts, but to also attend and serve as sponsors of the Ninth International Congress on Peer Review and Scientific Publication, held earlier this month in Chicago. We’re way into peer review.  

Cabells CEO, Lacey Earle, at the 9th International Congress on Peer Review and Scientific Publication, held earlier this month in Chicago.

So, we wanted to get even a bit more involved with the proceedings and thought this would be the perfect time to share some of our experiences and thoughts about the state of peer review as things now stand in scholarly and medical communications, and hopefully answer the question:

  •  If research integrity is about research, what part does peer review play?

I was recently able to virtually gather with a few members of our team – Sheree Crosby, Kathleen Berryman, and Dr. Julia Neufeind – to consider ideas such as:

  • What makes good peer review? Does the answer differ slightly, depending upon the role of the individual—author, researcher, editor, publisher, the industry as a whole?
  • Whose responsibility is it to ensure the peer review process is sound and working like it should?
  • What are the some of the problems, and potential solutions, in peer review today?

Our experts touched on these and other important issues around peer review:

  • The need for increased transparency in peer review with documentation and accountability in place
  • The lack of training for reviewers on how to perform efficient and effective peer review
  • How best to reduce biases, to whatever degree possible, that are inherent in the peer review process (and the human condition)
  • The lack of a standardized system within the industry to establish a uniform and consistent format for peer review and the resulting output
  • Managing expectations on the timing of reviews, with reviewers having to find time in their workday (or outside of it) to conduct reviews

Ideas on how to move peer review forward, building upon existing initiatives and innovations, strengthening its position as the backbone of quality research were also discussed:

  • The need to establish training or mentoring programs in peer review, particularly involving early career researchers
  • Should some form of peer review training be added to Ph.D. programs, equipping researchers with a foundation to perform effective peer review?
  • The creation of an agreement on acceptable industry standards and practices for peer review
  • The expansion of peer review networks and platforms to champion further innovation, including potential new models for peer review, guidelines, and training
  • Establishing data sharing and privacy policies

The discussion was wide-ranging and was edited quite a bit for the sake of digestibility – the seed for future webinars from our team examining peer review and other important issues in scholarly communication has been planted. We were really excited to come together to take a look at peer review to consider our experiences and the current landscape. Hopefully ours and other discussions like it on peer review will lead to more improvements and innovations in the process, and will serve to elevate scholarly and research communications across the board.

“Building a More Connected Scholarly Community” at #SSP2022

The theme of the Society for Scholarly Publishing’s (SSP) 44th Annual Meeting, which kicks off today and runs through Friday, is “Building a More Connected Scholarly Community.” It has been (and has felt like) a long, COVID-‘inspired’ two years’ worth of remote work, Zoom meetings, and virtual conferences. While not fully out of the woods yet (will we ever be?), 2022 has afforded the scholarly community the opportunity to get back to in-person gatherings to reconnect with old friends and establish ties with new ones. The chance to meet with so many friends and colleagues face-to-face might have been taken for granted in year’s past, but that is no longer the case.

For our part, Cabells has jumped into the reinvigorated 2022 conference season with both feet, with stops in Arlington, VA for the PRME Biennial Meeting at George Mason University, New Orleans, LA for the AACSB’s ICAM, New Orleans, LA again for our first visit to the Medical Library Association’s annual conference, and now on to Chicago for one of our favorite annual gatherings with SSP.   

As if being back together in person wasn’t enough to get us psyched for SSP, we have more to look forward to in Chicago. In addition to proudly serving as Diamond Sponsors of this year’s meeting, we are also honored to be receiving a certificate of gratitude for our support of the SSP’s Generations Fund, which provides sustainable funding for SSP’s Fellowship, Mentoring, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs. Like the SSP, we believe that a community is only as strong as its leaders, and we stand behind their commitment to supporting and developing an inclusive next generation of difference-makers.

The capper to SSP 2022 for us will be when our CTO, Lucas Toutloff, takes part in an exciting panel on Thursday for Session 4F, “Open Science and SDGs: Harnessing Open Science to Address Global Issues.” As signatories and Fellows of the SDG Publishers Compact, Cabells is driven to champion the UN’s SDGs and promote dynamic, mission-driven research and journals. This session will examine ways that the scientific community and journalism can drive change and wider societal outreach through open science policies and by embracing SDGs as a key topic in research impact.

Lucas, along with Dr. David Steingard from Saint Joseph’s University (with whom we’ve developed the SDGII™ journal rating metric), Dr. Laura Helmuth, Editor in Chief of Scientific American, and Paul Perrin from the University of Notre Dame, will discuss case studies around the current state of open science, open science policy, and the practical ways that open science is impacting the SDG program. Also, and key to Cabells’ mission, the panel will explore a method for operationalizing SDG-mindedness as a tool for measuring both research impact and potential.

Check out the full 2022 program here and or find out more about the annual meeting here. We hope to see you in Chicago!

Seeds of Change

If you plan on attending the Society for Scholarly Publishing’s (SSP) 44th Annual Meeting next month in Chicago, be sure to make time to attend Session 4F, “Open Science and SDGs: Harnessing Open Science to Address Global Issues.” Lucas Toutloff, CTO at Cabells, will be part of an outstanding panel that will be discussing ways the scientific community and journalism can drive change and wider societal outreach through open science policies and by embracing SDGs as a key topic in research impact.

Over the past year we have written extensively about our commitment to doing our part to move the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and, ultimately, their 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, forward. We were proud to join the SDG Publishers Compact as one of the first U.S. organizations and non-primary publishers globally to be awarded membership, and we look forward to becoming more involved in the rankings, ratings, and assessments HESI action group, tasked with guiding the changes to the criteria for assessment of the performance of higher education institutions to include contributions to the UN SDGs.

We’ve also been thrilled at the growth of and excitement for the SDG Impact Intensity™ (SDGII) academic journal rating, the first system for evaluating how journals contribute to positively impacting the SDGs. The SDGII is the result of our collaboration with Dr. David Steingard, Director of the SDG Dashboard initiative and Associate Professor of Leadership, Ethics, & Organizational Sustainability at the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University, and his team of researchers.

The SDGII uses SJU’s AI-based methodology to look at article output in journals from Cabells’ Journalytics database and gives those journals a ranking determined by the relative focus they have exhibited in their article publications over the last five years with respect to the SDGs. The SDGII provides a rating of up to five ‘SDG wheels’ to summarize the SDG relevance of articles published over a five-year period (2016-2020).

Last month, we had the chance to champion the potential benefits and impact of the SDGII at the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) North American Biennial Meeting in Virginia, and at the AACSB’s International Conference and Annual Meeting (ICAM) in New Orleans. David and his team discussed their vision and efforts to inspire a transformation from “quality” to “impact” in academic publications.

From right to left: Dr. Julia Christensen Hughes, Dr. Kathleen Rodenburg, and Dr. David Steinberg speak at the PRME 2022 Biennial Meeting at George Mason University in Arlington, VA.

At PRME, we discussed how impact-focused metrics can support progressive publication and business education agendas and unveiled a new iteration of the metric – the SDGII 3000, which provides a rating to measure the SDG-intensity of 3000 academic business journals, as well as the net impact of a business school’s faculty on publications advancing the SDGs. The SDGII 3000 will analyze 95%+ of all relevant business school and SDG-related journals where faculty publish and represents a massive expansion of the measurement of the social and environmental impact of publications through the SDGs.  

Dr. David Steingard presents the SDGII 3000 for the first time at PRME.

We look forward to continuing this discussion in Chicago at the SSP conference, both during our session and beyond. We will discuss the ways that open science is impacting SDG initiatives and programs and explore methods for operationalizing SDG-mindedness as a tool for measuring both research impact and potential. The momentum is building for this game-changing initiative and we hope to see continued interest and excitement from all corners of academia.

Conference Season Continues…Back in the Big Easy!

This week, we are on the road attending the Medical Library Association’s annual conference, MLA ’22, in New Orleans, where we’re excited to showcase our soon-to-launch new product, Journalytics Medicine & Predatory Reports. If you are at the conference in New Orleans, be sure to stop by booth 520 to say hello and take a look at our exciting new offering designed to help medical researchers, librarians, administrators, and funders ensure their work and resources are protected and impactful.

We have had a busy and wonderful 2022 conference season so far. At the Principles for Responsible Management Education North American Biennial Meeting in Arlington, Virginia, and the AACSB’s annual ICAM conference, also in New Orleans, we had the amazing opportunity to discuss our collaboration with David Steingard and Saint Joseph’s University (previously discussed here and here) in examining how the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can inspire a transformation from “quality” to “impact” in academic publications.

We look forward to chronicling our adventures and sharing the successes of the conferences after we’ve had the chance to reconnect with everyone and make our way back home. Stay tuned!

Back Together Again

Conference season is upon us and all of us at Cabells are excited to get back to in-person events to safely reconnect with old friends and establish ties with new ones. Like everyone else in the world, academe has had to adapt, pivot, and evolve to a new way of life, one largely designed to limit human interaction. Maybe that’s why it seems like there is a bit more excitement surrounding conferences this year, the anticipation of being back together with our community and all the ideas, learning, teaching, and growing that in-person events foster.

Cabells is hitting the ground running and we will be at the upcoming Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) North American Biennial Meeting April 21-23 in Arlington, Virginia. PRME is a United Nations-supported initiative founded in 2007 as a platform to raise the profile of sustainability in management and business schools around the world. Their mission to transform management education and shape the skills and mindset of future business leaders to advance sustainable development and create collective impact dovetails perfectly with Cabells’ values and goals.

Speaking of fitting perfectly with our mission, we are also very excited to be returning to AACSB’s ICAM 2022 in New Orleans, April 24-26. We will have a large contingent at ICAM this year, find us at booth 219 or in one of the conference’s insightful sessions to say hello and learn what we have been up to since we last met.

At both PRME and ICAM we are looking forward to discussing our work in collaboration with David Steingard and Saint Joseph’s University (previously discussed here and here) in examining how the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can inspire a transformation from “quality” to “impact” in academic publications. We’ve looked at opportunities that help and obstacles that hinder work on making this shift happen, and hope to offer solutions that help accelerate progress.

Our work in helping to develop the SDG Impact Intensity™ (SDGII) journal rating, which measures business and management journals on their focus and impact on sustainability and related issues has been challenging and rewarding. We’re looking forward to sharing our work and the progress we’ve made in helping shift the paradigm on what counts as impact in academic and business research.

We hope to see you in Arlington or New Orleans, travel safely!

Can Research Lost to Predatory Journals Be Saved?

At the launch event last month for the InterAcademy Partnership’s (IAP) recently released report on combatting predatory academic journals and conferences, an all too familiar question was posted to the virtual session’s chat by an attendee:

… I made this mistake once and I published a paper in one of these journals … now it does not appear online on searching … how can I withdraw this paper and republish it in a trusted journal??

This is a variation of a question we at Cabells are asked and consider frequently, and one that perfectly encapsulates the scholarly publishing-esque three-act drama that unfolds when a researcher is entangled with a deceptive publishing operation:

Act I: Setup

‘… I made this mistake once and I published a paper in one of these journals …’

The ‘mistake’ made (or in our drama, the ‘inciting incident’) was unknowingly submitting work to and publishing it in a predatory journal. This can and does happen innocently and somewhat easily to unsuspecting researchers, most often students and early career researchers.

Act II: Confrontation

‘…now it does not appear online on searching…’

The stakes are raised as the ramifications of the inciting incident from Act I are realized. One of the damaging results of having research published in a predatory journal is that it won’t be easily (if at all) discoverable. Some predatory journals advertise that they are included in well-known databases like Web of Science, Scopus, or Cabells, when they are not. These operations devote no time or resources to developing SEO or facilitating inclusion in research databases, so published articles will be difficult, if not impossible, to find.

Act III: Resolution

‘…How can I withdraw this paper and republish it in a trusted journal??’

The short answer, as provided in the launch event chat by Susan Veldsman, one of the authors of the IAP report, was succinct and unfortunately accurate:

‘Authors have reported that it is very difficult to retract these articles, actually no chance, as publishers just ignore requests and pleas from authors.’

This is the sad truth. Once an article is submitted to a predatory journal there is little to no hope of successfully withdrawing the article. These requests by authors are either ignored or not acted upon. Once published by the predatory journal, which often occurs without notice, researchers risk running afoul of publication ethics concerning duplicate publication if they submit the article to a second publication, whether or not copyright has been transferred. But should this be the case?

One alternative for dealing with research that has essentially been ‘lost’ to predatory operations, and so dismissed or ignored, was put forth by Jeanette Hatherill, Scholarly Communication Librarian at the University of Ottawa. Hatherill proposes that an author be able to “… retract or withdraw the article, acknowledge its ‘prior publication’ and submit it to a preprint server to make it available for open peer review.” While most preprint servers, including bioRxiv, require that articles be submitted prior to being accepted by (and of course, published in) a journal, Hatherill points out that these policies are set by the preprint servers and can be examined and revised.

As for the question of copyright, Hatherill notes that ‘even deceptive publishers’ such as OMICS, the predatory publishing giant recently on the losing end of a $50 million dollar judgment due to their predatory publishing practices, ‘state that all articles are available under a Creative Commons Attribution license.’ Publishing an article open access under Creative Commons licenses leaves the copyright with the author, meaning from a copyright standpoint it should be permissible to post on a preprint server as long as the place of first ‘publication’ is cited.

This solution doesn’t address the harmful effects of duplicate publication, like skewed citation metrics or flawed research due to redundant results from multiple publications, but the risk is minimal as papers published in predatory journals attract little attention and citations from scientists, especially when compared to those published in reputable publications.

Until a more comprehensive, structured, and widely applicable solution to the dilemma of how to salvage legitimate and potentially valuable research that has been unknowingly published in a predatory journal is found, creative solutions such as posting to a preprint server with an acknowledgment of prior publication and might be the most effective and efficient way to proceed.

IAP Report Sets Out Plan of Action for Fighting Predatory Academic Practices

Stemming the tide of predatory publishing operations is a challenging endeavor. Cabells has witnessed this firsthand through the rapid growth of our Predatory Reports database, which now lists over 16,000 deceptive publications. Advancements in digital publishing have made it easier than ever to launch and operate academic journals and have done much to democratize and globalize research. However, these same advancements have also made it easier than ever to create fake publishing operations that are focused solely on profit, with no regard for scholarship.

Recently, we discussed the importance of ‘researching your research’ and how one researcher’s persistence in vetting a suspect speaking opportunity at a conference traced back to a predatory publisher, Knowledge Enterprises Inc. (KEI), who happened to have six journals included in Predatory Reports). Predatory publishing outfits such as KEI were the focus of the recently released report from the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), the global network of over 140 science, engineering, and medical academies. The report, “Combating Predatory Academic Journals and Conferences,” was the result of a two-year study to determine what constitutes predatory practices, pinpoint their root causes and drivers, and provide recommendations and guidance on how they can be identified and avoided.

We previously covered the initial findings from the survey of over 1,800 academics on 112 countries, which found that:

  • nearly a quarter of the academics had either published in a predatory journal, participated in a predatory conference, or didn’t know if they had
  • over 80% thought predatory practices were on the rise or a serious problem in their country of work
  • over 80% thought these practices fueled misinformation in public policy.

The study shows that researchers in all countries, at all stages of their career, and in any discipline can be vulnerable to predatory practices, and as a result, raising awareness is now a vital mission for IAP.

The authors identified three main drivers of predatory practices: the increasing monetization and commercialization of the scholarly enterprise, the predominance of quantity-over-quality research evaluation systems, and serious challenges and weaknesses in the peer-review system. To make a lasting and measurable impact on the pervasiveness of predatory journal and conference practices, these root causes, and the unintended consequences that spring from them, require urgent action.

The final section of the report examines the conclusions of the study, including the need for an evolved definition of predatory academic journals and conferences and an increase in the awareness and understanding of predatory behaviors. The study also concludes that predatory operations are on the rise and undermine public trust in research, waste resources, and exploit weaknesses in the peer review system.

Most importantly, the authors set out recommendations for a course of action to combat these harmful and pervasive outfits. Cabells takes seriously the fact that our resources, in particular Predatory Reports, are recommended as trustworthy and effective tools to identify and avoid predatory operations.

Ultimately, the report stresses the need for urgent and collective action among all stakeholders as predatory practices continue to rise at an alarming rate. Training is imperative as is the need for cooperation from all players in taking action on the report’s recommendations. The authors assert that efforts to identify, understand, and expose predatory academic operations must continue, and the root causes of predatory practices need to be addressed if interventions are to have any lasting impact.

Achieving Gender Equity is Fair and Desperately Needed


In the US, March is Women’s History Month, a time for celebrating the key part women have played in American history, and globally, March 8 was International Women’s Day, a day to “Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.” The theme for #IWD2022 is #BreakTheBias, a call to action and a stark reminder that while it is important to celebrate the progress that has been made on the path to gender equity, there is still a great deal of work to be done.

Major League Baseball serves as a microcosmic example of the problems facing society when it comes to gender equity. Though there has been progress toward equality in baseball recently (MLB scored a C for gender hiring in the 2021 Racial and Gender Report Card from the University of Central Florida [up from an F in 2020]), most notably with the hiring of Kim Ng by the Miami Marlins as the first female general manager in baseball, there remains a long way to go. And certainly, as baseball finds itself on the verge of having to cancel another batch of regular-season games due to a continuing labor dispute, it has escaped no one’s attention that the most active and visible people involved in negotiations on both the MLB and MLBPA sides are all men, and things have gone horribly.  

In STEM fields, the stakes are higher and contributions by women have been overlooked throughout history. The lack of scientific innovation has real consequences and leads to missed opportunities for advancement in crucial areas. The climb toward gender equity in STEM is a work in progress, but barriers persist and have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Instead of having the best minds working on solving the biggest problems facing the world, such as the climate crisis, we’ve spent too much time with one hand tied behind our collective back by making it unnecessarily and irrationally difficult for women to contribute.

Credit: Unsplash

Scholarly and scientific publishing are not immune to gender inequity, with biases endemic in their editorial infrastructures and reflected in their ranks of authors, reviewers, and editors. Recent studies have found clear disparities on the editorial boards of journals in psychology and neuroscience as well as chemistry. A study published last month in the Journal of Information Science found no significant difference in publication rates by gender over the course of the pandemic overall, but the evidence points to gender bias being still quite prevalent in certain fields.

As Jennifer Tour Chayes noted recently, “addressing the gender disparity in STEM isn’t just a question of striving for a fairer society, it’s also fundamental to solving the complex challenges that affect us all.” Scientific advancement springs from the minds of creative, innovative, and doggedly determined people. By not having equal support, training, funding, and hiring opportunities available for women, we are missing out on finding the best and the brightest among all of us – this is not only wrong and unfair, it’s harmful.