AAAS is biased in more than just their journal ‘Science’

Ever have a time when you’re edited heavily, then when what you wrote comes out in print it seems like all your thoughts were replaced? This has happened to me a few times over the course of my life. First with papers from school, then massive reports I had to write for an academic conference. Sometimes that happens to me when working for the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS), and other times for clients.

This happens because I often work with experts in one field or another to say something that has been observed. The experts know (and now sometimes knew) better than I about the finer nuances of the field and thus could correct me easily. This is something I came to expect from writing an untold number of papers during school. I was actually shocked — and pleased — that my thesis came back with relatively few edits after the 10th draft I wrote. (This does not hold true for the first draft which Darryl just shuddered at and rewrote from scratch.) Each time this happened I learnt more about the field, the best ways to phrase things, and even some tidbits of grammar that I didn’t recall at the time.

However, when I’m writing for AAAS I often find that my observations are censored, neutered, and sometimes even reworded to be the editor’s thoughts and biases, not mine. AAAS is, for the most part, very large and responsible organisation, so this is something I can understand. They have a branding to uphold, standards to live up to, and an agenda to fulfil. Most people would be infuriated, and admittedly I am from time to time but it passes quickly. However, I’m also grateful for the lessons in knowing how they think and what they place value on, even if it is not my own.

For better or for worse, this is what the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences has become. They are good, don’t get me wrong. Their research is solid and well informed as they live up to their high standards. But, they are biased in what they publish. This is no mystery, or at least it shouldn’t be after Nobel Prize winner Randy Schekman wrote his op-ed discussing just what is wrong with these journals. Well, he wouldn’t know that the biases also extends to their community levels, but I do from working with them.

Why would I work with a company that I know has biases? Well, because I’m learning from them. I learn a great deal about publishing, science journalism, etiquette, and science. However, I can no longer just say that I had something published and leave it be at that. I have had too many hard researched articles and posts that have gotten denied because of their biases. I have had my voice erased on their website more than I care to acknowledge. It is in this light that I would like to show people just how biased AAAS, leader of America’s science future, is. And, I want people to be able to judge me based on who I am, not based on what I look like on AAAS. Yes, for better or worse, I want people to know who I am.

I do this not because I hate AAAS. In fact, I love them. I love what they stand for — anyone who knows me knows that I push the advancement of sciences as far as I can. I do not, however, love the fact that AAAS intentionally ignores some good research (read Where the Wild Things Were for several clear examples) or point of views because it doesn’t fit their agenda. I also don’t like the fact that although I am affiliated with both AAAS and Insanitek they want to keep me while distancing themselves from Insanitek because it is a relatively no-name company still and confuses those that they send me to interview when those people see my credentials.

I do research through Insanitek with the help of other qualified researchers here. It is solid research that is as non-biased as we can possibly make it. We also don’t have federal or state funding, so it’s done cheaply with what tools we have. I have published my observances on AAAS before, but my research on why more females don’t enter CS disciplines was denied. Why? At first it was because it wasn’t written scientifically enough, so they wanted more information about where I got the data. I gave it to them and wrote it in. Then, they said it was too long for a blog. I tried again and again to find a way it would suit them and the contract that the information not be published anywhere else for six month. (I have finally given up on this particular piece, so it will be published to Insanitek soon and discussed on Social Science Space in the near future.) I am part of Insanitek, I am part of science. I try to share with AAAS what I see out here in the trenches, but sometimes this research gets denied for one reason or another. I do not hold this against them at all. This does mean that people are not getting the full picture of issues at hand, nor of who is writing about these issues so they can make a fair judgement of me.

From now on when I post a blog to AAAS and it’s accepted there, I will post the original, unedited version on Insanitek for all to see. I will do my best to leave the paywall at AAAS off my posts, but I can’t guarantee it will be left that way. I will also announce any posts that have been rejected by AAAS as such so you can see what sort of research I’ve done that is rejected by them. I ask you to judge me by my words, phrasing, possible poor grammar. I ask you to see how AAAS differs from my own style and thoughts so you can see the differences in our methods.

I am aware that some will tell me I’m wrong at every turn; others will try to tear me down because they don’t like this. However, I hope they realise the reason I’m doing this is NOT to tear down AAAS but to make this a learning experience for more than just myself. I am making an example of myself for others that come behind to learn from. Let my experiences and failures be their teachers so they can be better science communicators.

My goal in this is not to turn you away from AAAS or their academic journal Science; they still do wonderful and accurate work. My purpose is to open your eyes and show you that they are only telling you one side of the story a majority of the time. If there are times when I can find the other side to the story, I will post them along with the articles so you can see the full picture. Only then can you be well educated because you are well informed as to more sides of the same story. I hope you will help me in this endeavour so we can know all sides of the story over time.

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