Over the weekend I got quite upset about a misleading picture and caption accompanying an article about the effect of Covid-19 on global research in a very reputable publication. #unfortunatemistake, poorly chosen #clickbait or #institutionalracism? A thread... 1/16
The article never once mentioned #asian people and was mainly about how #Covid has and will effect #research; it did mention that the worst hit countries such as Brazil or India are likely to be most affected. 2/16
Halfway down the article it then talked about how it's likely that researchers will reuse data more and that, if it's not properly recorded as such, this could lead to research misconduct. One academic was interviewed to illustrate this position. 3/16
Another academic was interviewed and said that having to look at old data again or in more detail could also be a really positive thing. 4/16
Now, research misconduct is a thing. It tends to happen when researchers are under pressure to produce high quantities or so-called high impact papers, and the false research is not rigorously scrutinised. #Peerreview should (it doesn't always) provide that scrutiny. 5/16
Pressure that leads to misconduct can come from various sources, including social, cultural and personal expectations. Metrics-driven research may also be a problem. 6/16
I note here that there is a perception that a lot of research misconduct originates from Asian countries, #China in particular. But there are plenty of examples that show it's a global problem. 7/16
Back to the article in question. It was accompanied by a photo of two Asian people wearing masks on stairs. I wondered why @timeshighered had chosen this particular image? 8/16
I might have expected a Getty image more related to #research or #Covid or #misconduct. But no, just two Asian people on the stairs. (masks were a pretty common thing before Covid.) 9/16
What this image does is link #Asian people directly with the headline- without a shred of evidence in the article. I'd say it's intentional clickbait, that plays on that preconception of misconduct originating from #China. It's messages like this that stoke mistrust. 10/16
Seeing Asian people singled out like this brought back some difficult memories from distant and recent past. Such as not understanding why kids at school enjoyed pulling their eyes to mimic a squinting look and reciting that "Chinese Japanese..." playground rhyme. 11/16
Or being taunted with names like "Ching chong chinaman" or "Karate kid" or "chop suey" 12/16
Or watching my friends and sisters being called "Spade face" or being asked if the light was too bright (indoors). 13/16
I could avoid some of that by focusing on my studies or sports or music etc. and I did pretty well at that. But every now and then my successes were still attributed to the Asian culture in me, rather than the individual that I was. 14/16
It would be great to be able to say that as time has passed these acts of explicit or just institutional racism are no longer a thing. Sadly I can't: last month I boy in the park rode his bike past at me and my child in their pushchair and shouted "chow mein". 15/16
So here's your daily reminder that #racism is still alive and kicking in the UK. 16/16
Postscript: personally, despite this, I'm doing ok. I've benefitted from a lot of privilege, I have my dream job, a family that supports me and that I'm intensely proud of, and a home in a wonderfully diverse country. /END
While you're here it's #BlackInChem week. Follow that and celebrate. Build on and continue everything you stood for during #BlackLivesMatter . Don't just go back to normal or let #Covid be an excuse to ignore the #institutionalracism around you.
You can follow @HamishY_Sci.
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