100 papers are just 100 papers

As you can see, we only recently started this blog. A while ago, we talked together about what topics we should discuss in our blog, and then we remembered the fresh and nice publication giving a list of 100 papers that every ecologist should be aware of (Courchamp & Bradshaw, Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2: 395–401). The list was based on expert opinions gathered from editorial board members of high-quality ecology journals. We thought that “Hey, let’s make commentaries on each of the 100 papers, that would be a smooth beginning for our new blog, and we’d get lots of nice content for our discussions”. Also, we found out that we weren’t aware of all those important papers. 🙂

BUT… There usually is a BUT, and this time was no different.

Recently, we noticed that people are making a lot of fuss about this article listing the 100 papers, it accusedly being gender- and skin-colour-biased. We, young women (if that’s an important piece of information to someone) in research, don’t completely agree with all this criticism.

It’s not a surprise that white men overpowered the list of the 100 important papers, both in terms of who’s opinions were asked to form this list, and who were the lucky authors that ended up in the list. After all, Western men were the first who started (or were able to) to do research back in the days (remember C. Darwin?), and no one can change this part of the history. Ever. But, fortunately, it didn’t take too long for women to start catching up. Things are changing. Slowly, but still changing. However, there are still more men than women in this playground, and this can be seen also in the “100 papers” list.  So, all we’re trying to say here is that it’s not cool to blame the messengers (like the guys that put together the “100 papers” list). The papers on that list have still played an important role in the development of modern ecology, regardless of who (men or women) wrote them.

Question: Does anyone even check if the authors of an article are female or male (or something else), or which country they are from, or what kind of skin colour they have, how cute they are, etc.? When all you’re trying (or should be trying) to do is to get a good picture of the actual content of the publication? Well…. We don’t, and we’d like to believe that no one else does that either. So, guys, take it easy! Before starting to throw rocks at peers’ publications, let’s review our own practices. We would like everyone to base their opinions about a paper on it’s quality of content, not on some personal insignificant information about the authors’ appearances or gender that doesn’t have any affect on the quality of their work.

Peace, love and respect,

M, A & K

P.S. We still like the original “100 papers” publication a lot. We are still going to comment every paper listed there… Or at least most of them. Or at least some of them. Depends how bored we are with our actual work. 🙂

P.P.S. As you don’t (yet) know us well…if you think something we write might be a joke, it almost certainly is. 😉

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