A set of principles and practical suggestions for equitable fieldwork in biology

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2122667119. This is version 5 of this Preprint.

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Valeria Ramírez-Castañeda, Erin P. Westeen, Jeffrey Frederick, Sina Amini, Daniel Wait, Anang S. Achmadi, Noviar Andayani, Evy Arida, Umilaela Arifin, Moisés A. Bernal, Elisa Bonaccorso, Marites Bonachita Sanguila, Rafe M. Brown, Jing Che, F. Peter Condori, Diny Hartiningtias, Anna E. Hiller, Djoko T. Iskandar, Rosa Alicia Jiménez, Rassim Khelifa


Field biology is an area of research that involves working directly with living organisms in situ through a practice known as “fieldwork.” Conducting fieldwork often requires complex logistical planning within multiregional or multinational teams, interacting with local communities at field sites, and collaborative research led by one or a few of the core team members. However, existing power imbalances stemming from geopolitical history, discrimination, and professional position, among other factors, perpetuate inequities when conducting these research endeavors. After reflecting on our own research programs, we propose four general principles to guide equitable, inclusive, ethical, and safe practices in field biology: Be Collaborative, Be Respectful, Be Legal, and Be Safe. Although many biologists already structure their field programs around these principles or similar values, executing equitable research practices can prove challenging and requires careful consideration, especially by those in positions with relatively greater privilege. Based on experiences and input from a diverse group of global collaborators, we provide suggestions for action-oriented approaches to make field biology more equitable, with particular attention to how those with greater privilege can contribute. While we acknowledge that not all suggestions will be applicable to every institution or program, we hope that they will generate discussions and provide a baseline for training in proactive, equitable fieldwork practices.




Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Entomology, Forest Sciences, Genetics and Genomics, Life Sciences, Marine Biology, Plant Sciences


collections, Diversity, Inclusion, natural history, safety


Published: 2022-02-05 08:49

Last Updated: 2022-07-19 07:11

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