In 2020 we will change the way we involve, represent and recognise our community
Some of us will set resolutions as a new year begins. And most of us will fail to keep them. Thus it’s with some trepidation that I set out here a resolution for Chemistry World this year: to better include, recognise and represent our community.
Our goal is for the pages of Chemistry World to show how people of all kinds make valuable contributions to chemistry. We want to give voice to those who might otherwise struggle to be heard, to be fearless in the face of failure and jubilant when celebrating success. Above all we want to keep in mind that the horizon of chemistry and of chemists extends far beyond the limit of one person’s view, no matter what their vantage point might be.
Easy to say, perhaps fashionable to say, but I do mean it sincerely. And while I can’t give you concrete measures of success (yet), I can tell you about the journey that led us here and some of the steps we have already taken.
The first thing is a big thing. We have changed the way the magazine involves and responds to our community by changing our board structure. We no longer have one. This was a difficult decision, not least because our board members are brilliant, talented people. I am grateful to all of them who, from my first day in the job, have welcomed and advised me as would an old friend. It was the board members who made this decision, which tells you everything you need to know about their character, their service to the magazine and their commitment to openness and inclusivity.
Thus, in 2020 we will be forming a new advisory group, composed of people that reflect not only the community we have but also the community we need for the years ahead. We want to give more people more opportunities to contribute and influence the magazine. This includes flexibility for group members on how much and how often they can contribute as well as using virtual meetings held at different times to mitigate location as a barrier to participation. More information will be coming soon on how this new group works and how you can get involved.
Secondly, we have commissioned a new series to run through 2020. You’ll find a new ‘Significant figures’ story every month this year, starting with Ellie Knaggs. We’re throwing a spotlight on people who made significant contributions to science but were unrecognised or undervalued.
Thirdly, we will endeavour to use every story and every editorial decision to support this resolution on an ongoing basis. All of us at Chemistry World HQ strive for high quality journalism and we will continue to provide the coverage that you value and rely on. We already choose stories that cover a wide range of subjects and try to source them from a diverse range of contributors. We believe that we cover topics that are important to our community – the stories and voices that you need to hear, rather than simply pandering to the popular. Our advisory group will inject new perspectives, challenges and ideas that should improve our coverage further.
These ideas resonate with the Royal Society of Chemistry’s newly published report Re-thinking Recognition: Science Prizes for the Modern World. It heralds a radical shake-up of the RSC’s awards programme shifting the focus to great science, not individual greatness – teams, technicians, teachers and multidisciplinary collaborations will all have more emphasis. The RSC wants to focus on people who, regardless of their normal job or role, break down barriers and open up new opportunities in chemical sciences. Chemistry World will play its part in fostering this change.
I hope you all agree that this will lead to both a broader and deeper view of chemistry and chemists in our pages. A year from now, I want to be able to say that this was one resolution we managed to keep.