Addressing diversity & inclusion in peer reviewer and editorial board recruitment

The Source
By: Guest contributor, Thu Sep 15 2022

This blog post comes from Arianne Heinrichs, Tim Shipley and Laura Taylor on behalf of an internal working group that developed these guidelines.


Author: Guest contributor

Springer Nature is committed to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion. As a global organization, we believe that diversity is a strength, that inclusion requires commitment and that representation matters.

Our journals and books serve a diverse and global community and it is vital that our peer reviews, and the members of Editorial Boards who make decisions on content to be published, are representative of society as a whole. We’ve now created a practical framework for our external Editors-in-Chief to put this commitment into practice when recruiting Editorial Board Members and peer reviewers. In addition, we’ve produced a separate guide that is aimed at anyone handling manuscripts (e.g. Editors, Editorial Board Members) and focuses specifically on peer reviewer recruitment.

Appropriate representation is key

Editors-in-Chief play a key role in ensuring that their journal is inclusive, welcoming and representative of the research community. To help support them in achieving this goal, we have developed best practice recommendations for the recruitment of Editorial Board Members (EBMs) and peer reviewers. A diverse Editorial Board will set the tone for the journal, and will in turn attract more diverse peer reviewers to the journal, so these efforts go hand in hand.

We recommend that Editors-in-Chief review the current Editorial Board and assess not only which expertise is required, but also which aspects of diversity could be increased with the aim for the Editorial Board to be representative of the community the journal serves. We suggest a combination of approaches and raise awareness of biases in the field and in the source of candidates.

Even though Editors-in-Chief may delegate the peer review of most manuscripts to their editorial team, they play a key role in encouraging peer reviewer inclusivity in their journal. We therefore emphasize the advantages of diverse peer reviewer recruitment. For instance, actively considering a wider and more diverse reviewer pool improves the chances of finding appropriate and willing reviewers. Also, diverse reviewer pools benefit the journal by increasing the visibility of the journals and by building relationships with new groups of researchers.

Peer reviewer recruitment

The guide on managing the peer review process provides practical advice by offering examples of appropriate representation. For instance, it is vital to ensure that where a paper discusses issues relevant to a particular community, that peer reviewers representative of - or with deep knowledge of - those communities, are consulted. This is especially important for research on historically marginalised communities.

It also contains practical tips for widening and diversifying the pool of candidates, not least by considering early career researchers who are often overlooked as peer reviewers. The guide also lists some useful resources.

What about Editors-in-Chief?

While our efforts focus on the Editorial Board and peer reviewers, what about Editors-in-Chief themselves, one may ask? We advocate a similar approach to diversity & inclusion and created a framework last year to support our in-house publishing and editorial staff when recruiting Editors-in-Chief, by encouraging appropriate representation and considering a wider and more diverse candidate pool. Across our portfolios of journals, we’ve already seen positive changes that we will continue to build on.

You can read more about our diversity, equity and inclusion policies on our Taking Responsibility webpage. There is also further information about how we incorporate these values into our journals in the Springer Nature Journals Editors’ Code of Conduct and Editorial Policies. 

With thanks to the internal working group responsible for developing these guidelines: Roshan Ahmed, Alexandrine Cheronet, Bastien Conan, Ritu Dhand, Arianne Heinrichs, Teresa Krauss, Lin Lee, Tamsine O’Riordan, Tim Shipley, James Sleigh, Sowmya Swaminathan (co-chair), Laura Taylor, Audrey Wong.


Author: Guest contributor

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