Make science inclusiveJanuary 29, 2022 15:50 IST
What is required is a framework and guiding mechanism for early-stage researchers and enthusiasts who are willing to carry out research
Many curious students graduate from colleges and universities every year with dreams of working on research projects and getting into R&D but only a few succeed. What about the rest? They either try hard to start their own research or end up switching fields. Hence Science inclusivity has become the need of the hour.
This means the inclusion of people from different backgrounds, perspectives, activities and providing them enough resources like funds, open access to labs, research papers and mentorship. However, there are some problems to face.
Scientific research needs a large amount of funds and resources and only fortunate researchers get everything they need. Many research communities are struggling to fulfill even the basic requirements to get started. There is also a perspective that people who do not have a Ph.D. are not qualified enough to conduct research projects. Hence, it becomes very difficult for them to even start working on their ideas. While there are grants (both governmental and privately funded) and crowdfunding is also an option, these work only for a few and not for everyone.
People who are great at science and research methodology find science communication difficult due to language barriers. Researchers from different regions having vast knowledge in the field want to cross collaborate and expand their scope.
Bio-enthusiasts and early stage researchers often have a tough time finding lab facilities that will let them carry out their projects. Academic labs are limited to only academic researchers while industries allow only relevant in-house projects. Though some open community labs have been begun, they are few in number.
Since early-stage researchers work with a limited amount of funds, they require access to online tools and research papers. Often well-rated and authentic research papers are behind pay walls and researchers either have to subscribe to journals or buy the paper. Mentorship is another requirement, especially if they hit a block in the technical aspect. There is no framework or portal through which they can reach out to mentors. A few groups have been created on social media but that is not enough.
Science should not be limited to people from scientific fields alone but should be open to different stakeholders. Differing perspectives from a variety of people can help. For example, take the growing PPE waste today. How are we going to solve this problem? People from disciplines such as Science, Design, Arts, Engineering along with stakeholders from Municipal Waste Department, Recycling Department and environmental activists can put their expertise together and come up with feasible, implementable and environment-friendly solutions.
There needs to be a proper framework and guiding mechanism for early-stage researchers and enthusiasts who are willing to carry out research. Resources, from funds to mentorship, should be made available without any barriers. This is the only way to make science more inclusive.
The views expressed in this article are personal
The writer is head of Bioriidl, a DIY Bio Lab and Biotech Business Incubator.