If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Nature journals adopt guidelines to protect marginalized groups

New ethics policies aim to prevent research that exploits lower-income communities

by Andrea Widener
June 2, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 20


The Nature family of journals is adopting new policies designed to help prevent exploitation of people from low-income or other marginalized groups by scientists and make the subsequent research more inclusive and ethical.

In an editorial, Nature cites two kinds of ethical lapses it hopes to stop: helicopter research and ethics dumping (2022, DOI: 10.1038/d41586-022-01423-6). In helicopter research, scientists from high-income settings carry out experiments involving low-income or marginalized groups without including anyone from those communities in conducting the research. In ethics dumping, scientists move experiments that might not be allowed in their own country to sites that have little or no oversight.

The new policies encourage authors, editors, and reviewers to include researchers from marginalized groups when “designing, executing, and reporting their research.” Authors can include a ethics statement. If they don’t, editors and reviewers can ask for one.

The new policies were largely guided by the Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings (2018, DOI: 10.48508/GCC/2018.05), the editorial says. The code was created by 56 coauthors, including representatives directly affected by exploitative research, including African indigenous peoples and marginalized sex workers, says lead author Doris Schroeder, director of the Centre for Professional Ethics at the University of Central Lancashire.

“We are all thrilled and honoured that Nature will use the Code to dismantle systemic legacies of exclusion,” Schroeder says in an email. “Most importantly, we are excited that this is likely to advance our goal of more equitable research partnerships in the future!”.



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.