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Understanding patterns in academic colonialism in ecological research (distance learning)

School of Biological Sciences

, , , Mr Juan Pablo Inamagua Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only
Aberdeen United Kingdom Ecology Environmental Biology Sociology Zoology

About the Project

Despite increasing emphasis on increasing diversity in science and representation of minorities in STEM, there is surprisingly little scientific research aiming to understand and tackle current patterns and magnitude of scientific colonialism in ecological research. Moreover, it remains to be experimentally tested whether scientific community exhibits bias against academics from Global South regions that could prevent increasing diversity in science. Academic-colonialism, as developed by the Latin American scholar Walter Mignolo, connotes the implication that academics from the so-called “Global South” countries have worst access to funding and institutional support and have lower chances to get their works published due to their location. Moreover, despite Global North-led ecological research has long relied on local indigenous knowledge and the study of their ecological systems, co-production, knowledge-transfer and involvement of local stakeholders and scientists in ecological research, although growing, is still low.

Using systematic reviews, data-mining of publication databases such as WOS and by means of a randomized double-blind experiments this project will evaluate patterns of academic colonialism and associated institutional racism within academic research and review process. Specifically, we aim to address questions such as: Who is producing ecological and funding research at Global South locations? What is the representation and acknowledgement of local and indigenous scientists in the scientific publication record? Are there any policies in place favouring co-development of scientific projects? What are potential biases in our formulation and interpretation ecological research resulting from current patterns? How should arising biases be addressed? 

Besides the knowledge advances the project would generate, the proposed PhD will contribute to significant changes in the way ecological research is conducted, hopefully promoting changes in the way policy and funding landscapes are implemented in ecological research. The PhD student will be working at the interphase of ecology and social sciences. Thus it will allow the student to gain a unique interdisciplinary profile.

We are looking for a student enthusiastic about social justice in ecological research and interested in learning quantitative research approaches including statistical modelling. 

What can we offer?

We are committed to fostering an inclusive and dynamic working environment and to support the students applying for funds to conduct the research. We will equip you with highly demanded transferable skills including coding, stakeholder engagement and statistical modelling. We anticipate the PhD project leading to publications in international journals. Moreover, you will develop skills in science communication through a variety of traditional and emerging media.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is only open to sponsored students (UK/international) and those who have their own funding. Supervisors will not be able to respond to requests to source funding.
To submit an application please visit View Website
-Apply for 'PhD in Biological Science- Distance Learning'
-State the name of the lead supervisor on your application
-State the name of the project
Please note that we will not proceed with applications that have not stated their intended funding source. Applicants will be expected to have suitable computing materials to enable them to work from home at a distance to undertake this project.


Holmgren and Schnitzer 2004 Science on the Rise in Developing Countries PLOS
Bostrom 2002Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy. Ed. Routledge.
Segupta 2020 Open access publication: Academic colonialism or knowledge philanthropy? Geoforum

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