PerspectiveScientific Community

It's whom you know that counts

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Science  10 Mar 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6329, pp. 1022-1023
DOI: 10.1126/science.aam5408

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Summary

Universalism—the evaluation of scientists' achievements based on merit alone rather than on functionally irrelevant factors (13)—has long been an unquestioned norm in science. Its existence is best illustrated by the reactions of outrage whenever a violation of universalism in science is exposed. For example, a study by Moss-Racusin et al. received a lot of attention in the scientific community because it found that when assessing application materials, science faculty rated students with male names as more competent than students who were otherwise identical but had been given female names (4). In a recent study, Fisman et al. (5) find evidence for favoritism in Chinese science: The election of membership to the two most prestigious scientific organizations, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), appears to be influenced by “guanxi,” or social network, as measured by hometown ties between candidates and selection committee members.

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