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ACS Publications takes steps to combat racism in chemistry publishing

Initial actions will include training all ACS editors on bias in peer review

by Linda Wang
June 22, 2020

Credit: ACS Publications
The editorial on confronting racism in chemistry journals.

The American Chemical Society Publications Division is taking steps to confront racism in chemistry publishing. Among its initial actions will be:

• Providing training for all ACS editors to recognize and interrupt bias in peer review

• Appointing an ombudsperson to serve as a liaison between editors and the community

• Developing an actionable diversity plan for each ACS journal

• Gathering and making public baseline statistics on diversity within ACS journals—encompassing editors, advisors, reviewers, and authors—and annually reporting on progress

• Including diversity of journal contributors as an explicit measurement of editor-in-chief performance

These steps are outlined in an editorial in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, signed by all of its editors-in-chief and deputy editors.

“There is no place for discrimination in science, but it’s sadly a reality that too many of our readers, authors, and fellow researchers face daily,” says Sarah Tegen, senior vice president of ACS Publications. “The underrepresentation of Black scientists in chemistry shows us how overdue we are for change, and we aim to use our platform to advocate for reform.”

“By challenging our own beliefs and actions, and through the changes we are making at ACS Publications, we will strive to build a better scientific community, and ultimately a better world,” says James Milne, president of ACS Publications.


Share your ideas on how ACS can improve its journals to be more diverse and inclusive at



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Frank Etzler (June 25, 2020 12:21 PM)
This nonsense is beneath the dignity of the ACS, a scientific society. The ACS should focus on science and employment of scientists.

Publication of articles in the peer reviewed literature should be based on technical merit and on a few occasions interest.
I have reviewed thousands of papers and never considered the race of the author. Indeed in most instances, I never knew it. In scientific fields African-Americans are rare but I have known a few as professors and peers. These were fine individuals and I do not remember having discussions about race. Technical topics and matters of a personal nature were of greater interest.

I attended an inner city High School that, at that time, was one of the best in the country. 50% of my classmates black and 30% of my teachers were black. There are famous graduates of the school - both black and white. The school taught various technical subjects and subjects related to the arts. In this school I took Organic and Analytical Chemistry. My courses there were better than the ones I attended in college and indeed better than most that I have observed in later years.

It might be better that the ACS, in part, focus on teaching chemistry in secondary schools. This is will be a monumental task as the state of our secondary schools has been dismal and declining for several decades. In the inner city and in the absence of charter schools matters are worst. Solving this problem is likely beyond the capabilities of the ACS

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