GeoCoLab aims to improve access
Rebecca Williams and colleagues report on efforts to improve equity in analytical geoscience through an online platform
Much geoscience research relies on funding to access analytical facilities to create the most fundamental datasets. During the 2021 NERC ‘Digital technologies to open up environmental sciences’ Digital Sprint, our team investigated inequities in access (in the UK and globally) to analytical facilities, as well as the impact of this inequity on the creation and publication of analytical geoscience research and individual research careers.
The team concluded that parachute science (whereby science is conducted by researchers from another country without local involvement) is observed in analytical geoscience, and this leads to inequities in published research. The survey suggests that some groups have preferential access to analytical facilities and the associated funding, and that those with minority identities in the UK, as well as those from the Global South are more likely to be excluded from access to analytical facilities. This ‘analytical facilities access gap’ negatively affects success and retention in research, impacting diversity in geoscience.
Our team aims to close this access gap, and improve equity in geoscience, through an app named GeoCoLab. This app is an online collaborative platform that ‘match makes’ underserved Geoscience researchers (such as unfunded early career researchers, minority and marginalised researchers, those from the Global South) who need access to analytical services with Collaborating Laboratory facilities who have agreed to offer a quota of pro-bono services.
Our team is led by the University of Hull and includes researchers from the universities of Derby, Aberdeen, Newcastle and Hull, the British Geological Survey and the Natural History Museum.
Dr Rebecca Williams, University of Hull, UK
Find out more at geocolab.github.io. If you run a laboratory or analytical facility and would be interested in partnering with the project, you can submit an expression of interest. Our survey on the impacts of analytical access (or lack thereof) on research careers is also still open for responses. To stay up to date with what we’re up to as the project develops, follow us @GeoCoLab on Twitter.