Improve reporting systems for academic bullying

Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Search for this author in:

I appreciate efforts by institutions to counteract academic bullying (see Nature 560, 420 (2018); Nature 560, 529; 2018). They should also set up a clear, fair and accessible reporting system, with no fear of reprisal for the institution or the people who have been abused.

Bullying issues are arguably worse for international students and scholars than for domestic lab members. International researchers are already disadvantaged by visa requirements and financial constraints, and such abuse exacerbates their insecurities over position and job prospects — particularly if it takes the form of infringement of intellectual property and unfair authorship positioning on publications.

An efficient reporting system for victims would also benefit their institutions and funding organizations by helping them to select a new generation of more nurturing leaders. The media could also play a part by making it clear in their reporting that individual cases are not an indictment on an institution’s overall reputation. This might also speed up the handling of abuse cases.

Nature 562, 494 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-07154-x

Nature Briefing

An essential round-up of science news, opinion and analysis, delivered to your inbox every weekday.