All scientists are equal but some are more equal than others: theory of justice applied to academic institutions to create a fair community with true equality of opportunities
1. The lack of diversity and equality of opportunities in academia is often seen as evidence of unfair processes in academic institutions when it comes to the distribution of goods. In this paper, I propose a novel framework to address this issue.
2. The framework integrates the body of literature on human developmental ecology with the theory of justice by John Rawls. The underlying premise of the framework is that academic institutions should account for the arbitrary ecological factors (e.g., culture, socioeconomic background) that influence the opportunities for academic achievements by individuals throughout their lives prior to application for goods.
3. The framework is designed to help academic institutions mitigate (or potentially, eliminate) the benefits accrued over time by individuals that experienced arbitrary but favourable ecological conditions, and assess and judge candidates relative to the expected academic performance given candidates’ ecological contexts (i.e., objective fairness). In doing so, this framework is a process that, if adopted by academic institutions, can result in fair equality of opportunities in the distribution of goods.
4. I also discuss the concept of ‘years post-PhD’, which attempts to make competition fair by discretising career trajectories. I propose a different landmark, which takes into account years post-first authorship publication, and argue that years post-first authorship publication is less relativistic and accounts for differences in academic structure between countries. I discuss the limitations and alternative attempts to make processes in academic institutions fair throughout the text.
5. Overall, this paper proposes a framework designed to improve the academic environment by creating fairness in the distribution of goods by academic institutions, thereby generating true equality of opportunities to all.
Keywords: social justice; policy; equality; minorities