Publishers come together to tackle diversity

Article by Amanda Doyle

Framework seeks to address bias

A GROUP of 11 publishers of more than 4,400 journals, led by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), has made a commitment to take action to reduce bias across all stages of the publishing process.

The RSC has released A Framework for Action in Scientific Publishing, which seeks to address bias in various stages of the publishing process and improve diversity and inclusion. The framework builds on a 2019 report looking at gender biases in chemical sciences publishing which analysed more than 700,000 papers and 141,000 citations to RSC journals between 2014 and 2018. It identified the subtle barriers that women face at each stage of the publication process. These include women being less likely to be a corresponding author and their papers less likely to be cited.

The new framework includes all aspects of diversity, not just gender, and outlines a foundation that must be built to achieve lasting impact, along with opportunities for action.

The commitment has been signed by the American Chemical Society, BMJ, Cambridge University Press, the Company of Biologists, Emerald Publishing, Elsevier, Hindawi, IOP Publishing, Oxford University Press, and Royal Society Publishing.

The framework notes that it is important to define the problem, as different stakeholders will have different understandings of the issues relating to diversity and inclusion. A compelling case for change should be made while working with key stakeholders and senior leaders.

It is also important to have clarity as to who is responsible and accountable for improving outcomes by defining the specific responsibilities of editors, publishing staff, and reviewers.

Performance then needs to be monitored and reported regularly, to initiate discussions on progress. Decisions should be made on what metrics should be used to define success.

This article is adapted from an earlier online version.

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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