What is it about?

Taxonomy is the science responsible for discovering and naming species and forms the basis of all biological research. Through a worldwide survey of taxonomists, we uncovered a potential bias in the field, which favors quick and easy publication of new species (as opposed to careful revisions of known species). This is akin to the bias against negative results that alarms experimental research and in the long run, might have unforeseen impacts on Taxonomy and applied areas that depend on it, such as conservation. Furthermore, this bias extends itself to other issues, and we have spotted significant inequalities regarding gender, geographical region, and career stage. Notably, there is a bias against newcomers to the field (e.g., PhD candidates and early-career researchers) and also against researchers from the Global South. For instance, established/late-career researchers and male researchers, particularly in Oceania and North America, found it easier to publish new species descriptions. Early-career, female, and Global South researchers have a harder time getting their studies published. We highlight some avenues for how to deal with these problems going forward.

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Why is it important?

The bias against negative results is a big problem in many fields of scientific research. And so are biases related to gender, nationality, and career stage. While this is widely recognized as an issue, we still have to point it out and demonstrate it with data, so that we as a community can recognize the issues and act to rectify them.


I hope this article will set off alarm bells among taxonomists and maybe spark a movement of change for the better.

Rodrigo Salvador

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Publication practice in Taxonomy: Global inequalities and potential bias against negative results, PLoS ONE, June 2022, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0269246.
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