Reflecting on the Colonial Legacy of Geoscience in Africa
Although carbonatites are now known worldwide, much of the early work to identify them was done in Africa, particularly around Oldoinyo Lengai (Tanzania) led by the late John Barry Dawson (1932–2013). Barry was a professor at the University of Edinburgh (UK) when one of us (KG) was there during the 1990s doing a PhD on alkaline igneous rocks and carbonatites; his interest and enthusiasm for the subject was infectious. Barry’s initial work on Oldoinyo Lengai, and his recognition of it as a carbonatite volcano, was done when he was a geologist for the Geological Survey of Tanganyika, around the time of Tanzanian independence. This was a time when colonial attitudes still strongly governed the way geological work was done in Africa, and the early papers on carbonatites abound with names of former colonies such as Rhodesia, Nyasaland, and South-West Africa.Read More
Diversity among Editorial Boards of Elements and other selected Geochemistry, Cosmochemistry, Mineralogy and Petrology journals
The publication of scientific work is foundational to our disciplines. To ensure equitable publication standards during the global flow of knowledge production, professional societies and publishers must take positive steps to avoid biases that might hinder the publication of scientific work (see Liévano-Latorre et al. 2020). Biases among editors and reviewers can be unconscious and be influenced by different aspects of an author’s identity: country of origin, first language, affiliation, gender identity, ethnicity, and/or other factors. These biases could result in challenges to publication rates and visibility in key journal forums for under-represented groups (Lerback et al. 2020). Ensuring that there is diversity in the peer review and publishing process, and on editorial boards, may help to eliminate bias.Read More
Sailing the Sea of Open Access: Celestial Navigation or Dead Reckoning?
The notion of open access (OA) began to gain traction in the mid–late 1990s (Laakso et al. 2011). The Bethesda Statement (2003) followed a year later with the definition of ‘open access’ as: “free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit, and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship.”Read More
All Hands on Deck
The geosciences have existed as a set of interrelated disciplines for centuries and have changed in some significant ways over the generations. But they have not changed as much as they need to in order to advance science in creative ways that will most benefit humanity. At this moment, as the world is gripped by a pandemic and there are worldwide protests against racial injustice, it is particularly important to recognize the power of diverse perspectives and ideas and to take real and effective action to increase diversity, equity, and inclusivity in the Earth sciences. The world needs highly skilled Earth scientists – including those with expertise in mineralogy, petrology, and geochemistry: this is an “all hands on deck” moment.Read More
Our Study is Published, BUT the Journey is not Finished!
Each June, we receive e-mails from publishers welcoming the evolution of their journals’ journal impact factor (JIF). The JIF is a controversial metric (Callaway 2016), and it is worth asking, “What’s behind it?” In this age of “publish or perish” (Harzing 2007), we take much time and effort to write our papers and get them published. But how much time and effort do we put into finding readers or ensuring that we are reaching the right audience? Are metrics, such as the JIF, good guides for how well we are doing at reaching our target audience?Read More
Global Flow of Scholarly Publishing and Open Access
Open access is not a new topic for Elements. The topic was addressed by Alex Speer, Kevin Murphy, and Sharon Tahirkheli in 2013 (Speer et al. 2013) and, later, by Christian Chopin in 2018 (Chopin 2018). I fully agree that there is a strong imperative for the geochemistry, mineralogy, and petrology communities to ensure that the research it produces is widely accessible, especially in the increasingly important context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Indeed, according to the STM Report 2018 (Johnson et al. 2018), two thirds of the scholarly literature in 2016 remains inaccessible to the public because it is hidden behind a paywall. Scholars have been making various cases for wider public access to published research, known as open access (OA), since the late 1980s.Read More
Credibility of Scientific Writing: An Appeal for Responsibility
The world of scientific publishing is evolving rapidly. Alongside the usual “big sharks”—the monopolistic publishing houses that have been dominating the market and pressurizing institutional subscribers for decades—there are a wealth of new, online players emerging under the banner of “Open Access”. Open access journals are web-based scientific journals that are free to read by anyone but require authors to pay a fee for publishing their paper. These open access journals are a true challenge, not only for journals published by non-profit, learned, societies, but also for scientific publishing in general.Read More
Recognizing Biases that Affect Women Geoscientists in the Workplace
Download Article (PDF) Women are underrepresented in the geosciences (www.americangeosciences.org/workforce/reports). Many different factors affect a woman’s ability to continue and succeed in science. These include a lack of senior women role models; the need for people in partnerships to decide whose career to follow and then to obtain satisfying long-term jobs; inescapable career interruptions for…Read More