A decrease in the use of the term “race” in research papers on human genetics is a sign of the growing acceptance of race as a social construct. But other trends may suggest a continuing uncertainty over how to discuss various populations.
What you should know:
Human geneticists have shifted away from using the term “race” to describe groups, an study recently published in The American Journal of Human Genetics(AJHG) highlights.
Researchers studied the text of all 11,635 papers published between 1949 and 2018 by AJHG. While the word “race” appeared in 22% of papers during the first 10 years of the paper’s publication, it was used in only five percent of papers over the last 10 years.
This decline is indicative of the current understanding in science of race as a social construct, and the desire to break away from previous research that mistakenly linked genetics with racial categories According to the lead author Vence Bonham, JD, the acting deputy director of the National Human Genome Research Institute.
The study also revealed that “ethnicity” has increased over time. This could suggest that geneticists are still trying to find the right terms to describe populations.
A The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine has recently set up an expert committee to prepare an agreement on the use of the term “race” and other terms used to describe populations in health disparities research.
This is a summary of the article “Human Geneticists curb the use of the term “race” in their papers” published by Science on December 2. Science.org has the complete article.
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