The following PREreview results from a live-streamed discussion which took place on September 22, 2020 between Jonny Coates, Karen Eddleman, Monica Granados, Emily Lescak, Phrasia Mapfumo, Mafalda Pimentel, and Daniela Saderi.General preprint assessmentThis study reports the results of a survey of 3345 academics in Brazil conducted during months in which Brazil was under a lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the survey was to measure if productivity, quantified by counting manuscript submissions as planned and meeting deadlines, was affected differently across groups of academics during said lockdown. They compared several groups and intersections of identities, including gender, race, and parental status including the age of the child. The work is timely as it provides further data around the disparities …The following PREreview results from a live-streamed discussion which took place on September 22, 2020 between Jonny Coates, Karen Eddleman, Monica Granados, Emily Lescak, Phrasia Mapfumo, Mafalda Pimentel, and Daniela Saderi.General preprint assessmentThis study reports the results of a survey of 3345 academics in Brazil conducted during months in which Brazil was under a lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the survey was to measure if productivity, quantified by counting manuscript submissions as planned and meeting deadlines, was affected differently across groups of academics during said lockdown. They compared several groups and intersections of identities, including gender, race, and parental status including the age of the child. The work is timely as it provides further data around the disparities in academic work and manuscript submission—particularly in the context of the pandemic, as also highlighted elsewhere1. The results are discussed in support of policy changes that can mitigate both the short-term impact of child-rearing responsibilities on productivity as well as potential long-term effects on one's academic career. In general, we recommend this manuscript for peer review, but we would advise the authors to consider addressing some of the following points before submission.
Major points We think that the title is too general and makes claims that are unsupported by the data. The title of this article implies that the authors will dive into recommendation for policy changes in response to the findings. While they do suggest changes are needed in the discussion, they do not provide any suggestion on what should be implemented to mitigate the disparities found in the results and/or any analysis of current policy that exacerbate these disparities. We recommend de-emphasizing the "action" portion by removing it from the title. A better alternative would be to actually spend more time in the discussion providing further information around current policy, as well as suggestions of new policy that can lead to mitigation of the inequity revealed by the survey. Furthermore, the influence of race on productivity was not as straightforward as the title may suggest. The results state that "White academic mothers and Black female academics, regardless of motherhood, are the groups taking the strongest hit". This may suggest that women need more support regardless of race, particularly when they have children. Is there any speculation and or possible explanation on why the productivity as measured in this survey of Black women with children is comparatively less affected than that of white women?The survey collected more granular information than was presented in the results. We think that the authors should present and discuss all the results, particularly those displayed in the figures and tables. For example, one confounding factor for the results is that women may be less (or more) likely than men to submit manuscripts in the first place, or have fewer deadlines planned. Possible limitations of the study for instance include the fact that the survey respondents may not represent the demographics of academic groups in Brazil—e.g., 68.4% of the respondents were women—and how the statistics applied may mitigate these limitations should be discussed. Other limitations the authors may consider discussing include potential differences and confounding effects due to career levels and discipline of study—which were surveyed but not reported, the fact that academic productivity may be quantified by other metrics other than paper submission and meeting deadlines and that may change the results, as well as how translatable these results may be to other countries. We also wondered if the questionnaire had been validated before use? If it was, information on the validation process should be included under the Methods section, if an earlier validated questionnaire was used as a basis this should also be reported. If the questionnaire was not validated prior to use this should be reported and discussed as a limitation. Additionally, it would be important to report how the survey was disseminated and if there were incentives, both intentional and unintentional, to complete the survey, which may have biased the sample in one direction rather than another. As the results are based on a self-reported survey, they can only establish associations, we recommend toning down the language in the manuscript to refer to associations and not causal links ('impact'). Minor pointsThe authors state that this work is "the first to provide conclusive data on the forces driving imbalance in science" but then in the following sentence they reference other papers doing just that. One of the major points made by the authors is that the differences in productivity across groups were observed during the lockdown period due to the pandemic. It would be interesting to compare similar data pre-pandemic and also repeat this study after the lockdown is over to really quantify if differences in academic productivity have in fact been exacerbated by the pandemic.The presentation and visualization of the standardized residuals are useful, but we think the authors should discuss more their interpretation. The distribution of the standardized is very wide, with some going beyond the +/- 4 point which means that the effect is extreme and that we are looking at outliers. All relevant statistics should be reported in each figure caption. Also the chi-square statistics needs to be reported with the degrees of freedom and the N in the results as well as in the figure caption.Authors should consider accessibility in the choice of the figure colors. This blog post (https://venngage.com/blog/color-blind-friendly-palette/) has some useful information and links to tools to assess color accessibility. Another easy way would be to ensure there are other ways besides color to assess differences such as texture and/or differences in brightness of the colors.A data accessibility section would also be useful We found several typos in the manuscript. We would recommend more iterations of proofreading before submitting the article for publication.Some questions that arose during discussion that were interesting are presented here but do not need to be addressed for publication include: What career stage were participants at?What was the effect of academic discipline?What kind of workload did people have in the first place—was there a gender/race difference?Were there any differences between single parents vs family units?Was there any help with childcare?Was there an effect of the number of children, not just the age of the youngest child?Was the parental workload evenly distributed between parents? Income/socioeconomic status differences and the impact of it?What was the size of the laboratory?What was the average publication rate in previous years? 1. The decline of women's research production during the coronavirus pandemic. https://www.natureindex.com/news-blog/decline-women-scientist-research-publishing-production-coronavirus-pandemic.
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