Efforts to chart and reduce bias in scholarly publishing will ask authors, reviewers and editors to disclose their race or ethnicity.
In the next year, researchers should expect to face a sensitive set of questions whenever they send their papers to journals, and when they review or edit manuscripts. More than 50 publishers representing over 15,000 journals globally are preparing to ask scientists about their race or ethnicity — as well as their gender — in an initiative that’s part of a growing effort to analyse researcher diversity around the world. Publishers say that this information, gathered and stored securely, will help to analyse who is represented in journals, and to identify whether there are biases in editing or review that sway which findings get published. Pilot testing suggests that many scientists support the idea, although not all.
This move on racism in scholarly publishing should be acknowledged and celebrated. There is a very real issue with inclusivity and diversity in this space. There is of course an issue with prejudice and exclusion in terms of sexism and ableism. Such matters also warrant attention.
“If you don’t have the data, it is very difficult to understand where you are at, to make changes, set goals and measure progress,” says Holly Falk-Krzesinski, vice-president of research intelligence at the Dutch publisher Elsevier, who is working with the joint group and is based in Chicago, Illinois.