Ananya Roy, professor of urban planning and director of the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, spoke to Nature about the importance of prioritizing research submissions from vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal boards and editors are exploring ways to support female researchers and others whose publications and positions are at risk. Roy, an editor of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, explained the journal’s decision to address structural inequality by putting papers from women and early-career researchers at the front of the review queue. “For years, I’ve paid close attention to papers from scholars who are not at elite universities and to those from early-career researchers,” Roy said. Now, she worries about doctoral students who must complete research projects amid the uncertainty of the pandemic. “This is an opportunity for us to think about how we can deepen practices of compassion, care and equity,” she said.