Earlier this year, we published our first DEI report based on a global survey of ~ 5000 researchers and interviews with early career researchers looking at perceptions and experience of DEI in the research community. While this survey revealed discouraging findings about the state of inclusion and safety within the research ecosystem, it underscored an opportunity for publishers to take an active role in helping improve research and publishing culture.
We have seen a major shift in the geographic distribution of where research is produced with the quality and output of research from Asia, specifically China and India, outpacing western nations. We must therefore ensure that diverse perspectives and expertise are also captured in the peer review process.
At Springer Nature, we are proud to work with an extensive network of authors, editors and reviewers to serve a global community of researchers across diverse disciplines. We are also committed to supporting the 90,000+ editors we work with - who play a critical role in ensuring their journals foster inclusive publishing practices and are representative of their communities - in their day-to-day work in journal publishing through a range of tools and services.
With that in mind, we are pleased to announce the launch of our new DEI in Research Publishing hub: a collection of DEI-focused resources and insights, including new resources to support bias-free communication of research.
This new hub aims to inform, inspire, and support editors to take action, through a range of resources, guides, data-rich insights, editor case studies and much more. For example, two guides on diversifying editorial boards and peer reviewers provide practical, actionable strategies for making journal editorial boards and peer reviewer populations more representative of the journal’s authorship base and the research community served by the journal. Editors, reviewers, and researchers can also learn about best practice for improving reporting on sex, gender, race, and ethnicity in research studies, and how to improve equity and inclusion in global research collaborations.
Language matters and how we communicate research findings impacts their interpretation and application in the real world. Across the publishing industry, many societies and publishers have developed inclusive language guides to support their authors, editors and peer reviewers in using language in a considered and respectful way.
On our new hub, we host two complementary resources: an Inclusive Language Guide, and a Sensitivity Reading Guide. The main objective of both guides is to support the broad and global network of researchers we work with (authors, editors, editorial board members, reviewers) in using bias-free and culturally sensitive language and presentation in research communication. These resources aim to provide helpful guidance, rather than being a mandate or a requirement.
The Inclusive Language Guide sets out best practice recommendations on non-discriminatory language, terms, and explanations in nine areas with more than 200 explanations on inclusive terms and with links to more than 100 other resources. The Sensitivity Reading Guide provides helpful checklists for what to consider when approaching text, figures, or images for a “sensitivity read”, keeping in mind not only what is explicit but also what may be inferred from the text, figures, and images. Both guides include links to external sources and discipline-specific guides from other organizations including the APA (American Psychological Association), the AMA (American Medical Association) and Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications.
The launch of this centralized hub marks an important milestone in our journey within research publishing to build inclusive publishing practices and working with diverse networks of editors, authors, and reviewers to advance DEI in the communities we work with. Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll be adding more resources, data insights and case studies and Editors-in-Chief will share some of the positive benefits they are seeing of introducing inclusive publishing practices at their journals.
Dr. Sowmya Swaminathan is Director, DEI, Research at Springer Nature and a member of Springer Nature’s DEI Council. She leads Springer Nature’s efforts to bring a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens to research publishing activities across the journals and books publishing programme. She was previously Head of Editorial Policy & Research Integrity for Nature Portfolio where she was responsible for policies and initiatives that advance transparency, integrity, open research practices and inclusion in scholarly publishing. She began her career in scholarly publishing as an editor at Nature Cell Biology where she subsequently served as Chief Editor for 6 years. Prior to entering scholarly publishing, Sowmya completed her PhD at the University of Chicago and carried out postdoctoral training at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany.