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Re: [AUDITORY] Sorry | Thank You | Onward

Dear all,

I want to chime in to say thank you to everyone who has spoken out pointing to the inequities and biases that dominate academia, from peer-review to criteria for promotion. I would like to acknowledge the brave voices of not just senior researchers, but also those of the trainees, especially Alexandria Lesicko, who inspired me with with her wisdom, grace and courage. I am so proud of our trainees who are committed to making this world a better place.

I agree with KC that many of us are working to make the systems better, but what we’re doing is not enough to level the playing field. We continue disproportionally losing women, scientists of color and members of other underrepresented minorities throughout the training and faculty appointments, every year, every promotion step. We have to do more! From acknowledging and checking our own bias to fighting to bring about institutional change, and opening up the opportunities and giving a platform to voices that are heard too rarely, we have to actively work on helping and promoting scientists from diverse backgrounds.

I know many of you are already working on this, but if you don’t, consider starting locally, in your own laboratory or institute. For example, in my lab, we have been making an effort to participate in training programs for undergraduate students from Penn and other institutions that recruit students from diverse backgrounds. We also run a series of presentations by our lab members on the work of scientists of color. And we read literature on anti-racism, had discussions on how to combat bias in science and participated in community outreach.

As to the original topic of peer review, to me, posting to a preprint server at the same time as submitting the paper to a peer-reviewed journal is a no brainer. We have been doing this for about 6 years, and have only had positive experience with it. On the other hand, publishing in peer-reviewed journals has become considerably slower in recent years — for example, we’re in final bouts of revisions for a peer-reviewed journal for a paper that was originally posted to BioRXiv in 2021. From grant review panels to promotion reviews, pre-prints made it possible for those evaluating our work to see for themselves what experiments were performed and what work was done despite the delays in peer-review process. And reading pre-prints from other laboratories has in turn informed our experiments and interpretation.

With kind wishes,

Maria N. Geffen, Ph.D. (she/her)
Department of Otorhinolaryngology
Department of Neuroscience
Department of Neurology
Co-Director, Computational Neuroscience Initiative
Stemmler Hall G14
3450 Hamilton Walk
Philadelphia PA 19104
My zoom room
Follow me @geffenlab@mastodon.world
Twitter: @neimarkgeffen

On Jun 14, 2023, at 12:15 PM, Adrian KC Lee <akclee@xxxxxx> wrote:

Dear all

I joined this list over 2 decades ago and I am particularly saddened by the discourse we have had in the past 3 weeks.

Sorry: I want to apologize to all the trainees and junior faculty on this list. I have heard from many of you privately. I want to apologize that I have not spoken up against the problematic gatekeeping practices that the recent email threads have once again exposed. Be assured that many of us who are in the position to make institutional change is working to make the systems better for everyone. I know we are not going to make a difference by generating more discussions on this list. The mistake that I have personally made is to think that I should just keep my blinders on and chalk these emails as just the outliers from the system of the past and that I can safely ignore them. I was wrong and I hope you would all accept my apologies.

Thank you: I want to thank all the senior folks who use their privileges positively to painstakingly point out that we need to finally reconcile with our collective fragility in academia. Thank you for your bravery and well crafted emails. We must not continue to blindly defend our system being purely meritocratic. Only through accepting we are falling short from this ideal that we can improve in the future. 

Onward: Make no mistakes, many trainees and junior faculty are observing this thread in total frustration. Many respected colleagues have apparently left this list a long time ago because of these biased experiences. I hope you don’t. I hope that we would use this list to lift everyone up in our field and help each other to improve the ecosystem that we are all codependent on.

With respect and humility
Adrian KC Lee, ScD
Professor and Chair
Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences
University of Washington, Box 357988
Seattle, WA 98195-7988

Phone: (206) 616-0102; Fax: (206) 221-6472
Email: akclee@xxxxxx
Web: www.akclee.com