The identification of fossil remains of humankind’s most ancient ancestors. The enumeration of news species in every corner of the animal kingdom. Fieldwork and data collection of all sorts – from geoscience to public health.

Important, groundbreaking research happens across Africa. Yet African scientists and institutions rarely see credit in the world’s most recognized scholarly journals, according to Dr. Sowmya Swaminathan, Head of Collaborations, Springer Nature.

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A Global Code of Conduct for Researchers

African researchers, authors, editors, and reviewers, however, are not the only ones whose careers are affected by so-called “parachute research.” Such practices occur around the globe “when researchers from high-income settings, or who are otherwise privileged, conduct studies in lower-income settings or with groups who are historically marginalized, with little or no involvement from those communities or local researchers.”

In May, an editorial from Nature, one of the world’s most highly regarded scientific publications, announced a new approach to improving inclusion and ethics in all Nature Portfolio journals.

The Nature policies are guided by the Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings and seek to address a range of exploitative research practices, explains Dr. Swaminathan.

“We’re really hoping that transparency will be the way forward, and that through transparency, we can then, together with many other stakeholders across the system, push for more consistent changes in practice. But transparency is indeed the first step,” she tells me.

Dr. Swaminathan represents Nature and Springer Nature on multiple community and industry forums and collaborations, and most recently has been involved in the development of The MDAR Framework, aligned minimum standards for transparent reporting and open research practices in the life sciences. She was previously Head of Editorial Policy & Research Integrity for Nature Research, where she was responsible for editorial policy development, including policies and initiatives that advance transparency, integrity, open research practices and inclusion in scholarly publishing.  She is the Chair of Springer Nature’s Research Publishing DEI Program and a member of the Springer Nature DEI Council.


Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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