Recent events around the world have confronted many of us, in science and beyond, with the stark realities of systemic inequality. At Cell Press, they prompted us to look inside ourselves and ask what more we can do to fight prejudice and promote social justice. The challenges are large, and although we have made a start through articles we have published and authors we have highlighted, we see room to do more.
When we discuss diversity in research outputs and research design, we generally talk about two considerations. Firstly, it’s the degree to which the authors/researchers are from diverse/under-represented populations. Secondly, it’s the degree to which the participants include diversity in terms of gender, age, racial and disability/ability. The former is important to ensure the academic record does not exclude the voices of academics/researchers from sections of society, too often overlooked. It is also important to ensure a range of people enjoy the career benefits of publication and recognition by their peers. In terms of participant inclusivity, evidence points to the fact, if we claim broad relevance/efficacy without including a range of people, the reality is that the results can be different, sometimes dangerously so, for some sections of society.
The concept underlying this initiative is similar to existing statements about Declarations of Interest, Author Contributions, and Data and Code Availability but focusing on highlighting aspects of the paper that are relevant for inclusion and diversity. It is purposely multifunctional and designed to give authors a venue to share ways in which their work or their research group, or both, are contributing to help science become more inclusive and diverse overall. For example, authors can include information about efforts to ensure diversity in cell lines or genomic datasets used for a study, efforts to ensure sex/gender balance in research subjects, efforts to ensure that any study questionnaires are prepared in an inclusive way, self-identification of authors as members minority groups, support that any authors have received from programs designed to advance minority scientists, and efforts made to promote gender balance in citation lists. We also included an opportunity to highlight efforts to avoid the concept of “helicopter science,” in which authors, generally from a high-income country or non-indigenous group, rely on people and resources from a lower-income or indigenous group but then analyze and publish the data without appropriate involvement or recognition.