When scientific journals take sides during an election, the public’s trust in science takes a hit

<span class="caption">People lose faith in science when it takes a political side.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://newsroom.ap.org/detail/Election2020WisconsinVoting/f700f11017154b8198897294aaa18cba/photo?boardId=d7f2514f50804466b15dfb81ed00d9cd&st=boards&mediaType=audio,photo,video,graphic&sortBy=&dateRange=Anytime&totalCount=15&currentItemNo=6" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:AP Photo/Wong Maye-E">AP Photo/Wong Maye-E</a></span>
People lose faith in science when it takes a political side. AP Photo/Wong Maye-E

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The big idea

When the scientific establishment gets involved in partisan politics, it decreases people’s trust in science, especially among conservatives, according to our recent research.

In the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, several prestigious scientific journals took the highly unusual step of either endorsing Joe Biden or criticizing Donald Trump in their pages.

In September, the editor-in-chief of the journal Science wrote a scathing article titled “Trump lied about science,” which was followed by other strong critiques from both the New England Journal of Medicine and the cancer research journal Lancet Oncology.

Several other top publications – including Nature and Scientific American – soon followed, with overt endorsements of Biden. The statements focused on each candidate’s impact on scientific knowledge and science-based decision-making.

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Scientific Journals Commit to Diversity, but Lack the Data

Publishing papers in top-tier journals is crucial scholastic currency. But the process is deeply insular, often hinging on personal connections between journal editors and the researchers from whom they solicit and receive manuscripts.

“Science is publicized as a meritocracy: a larger, data-driven enterprise in which the best work and the best people float to the top,” Dr. Extavour said. In truth, she added, universal, objective standards are lacking, and “the access that authors have to editors is variable.”

To democratize this process, editors and reviewers need to level the playing field, in part by reflecting the diversity that journals claim they seek, Dr. Kamath said. “People think this is a cosmetic or surface issue,” she said. “But in reality, the very nature of your scholarship would change if you took diversity, equity and inclusion seriously.”

In responses to The Times, several organizations, including A.A.A.S., Cell Press, the Lancet and PLoS,

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The best from the science journals: Asteroid analysis to decoding dinosaurs

Here are some of the most interesting research to have appeared in top science journals last week

Studying HIV up close

Published in Science

Scientists have for the first time have recreated the first steps of infection by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) in a test tube. The team was able to monitor how the virus replicated its genetic material and inserted it into the target DNA. Understanding in detail about the early stages of the virus life cycle can help develop new treatments for AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).

Is it a dinosaur feather?

Published in Scientific Reports


A 150-million-year-old feather which was found in a limestone quarry in Germany in 1861 has confused scientists for decades as they struggled to find whether it belonged to a bird or a dinosaur. This was the first ever discovered feather fossil and now advanced microscopic techniques found that it came from the left

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