Nature joins global academic strike against anti-black racism


Paris (AFP)

The science publisher Nature took the unprecedented step Wednesday of delaying the release of all the research in its flagship journal as part of a global strike to protest institutional anti-black racism in academia.

Prompted by the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death in US police custody of George Floyd, the journal admitted it was part of the problem of a chronic lack of diversity in scientific research.

In an editorial, Nature said it was "one of the white institutions that is responsible for bias in research and scholarship".

"The enterprise of science has been -- and remains -- complicit in systemic racism, and it must strive harder to correct those injustices and amplify marginalised voices," it said.

Black people are chronically underrepresented within the global research community, with a report from the non-profit American Institute of Physics finding last month that fewer than five percent of US bachelor degrees in physics are awarded to black students.

Nature pledged to produce a special edition of the journal under a guest editor "exploring systemic racism in research, research policy and publishing -- including investigating Nature's part in that".

Dozens of institutions in the US and Europe said they were taking part in Wednesday's action protesting racism in academia with the hashtags #ShutDownAcademia and #ShutdownSTEM, referring to the acronym for science, technology, math and engineering.

"For Black academics and STEM professionals, #ShutDownAcademia and #ShutDownSTEM is a time to prioritise their needs -- whether that is to rest, reflect, or to act," the initiative said on its website.

Founded in 1869, the Britain-based Nature is the world's most cited scientific journal.