Inclusion and diversity within science publishing

The Society and its journals are committed to improving inclusion and diversity within science publishing. 

A journal diversity statement has been developed which reflects our philosophy:

The Royal Society’s journals aim to foster inclusive science and scholarship that reflect the disciplinary, geographic and human diversity of the community. Submissions are encouraged and welcomed from all authors, regardless of their characteristics, protected or otherwise. We are committed to equal opportunity and work diligently to mitigate bias in our editorial review processes. We continually work toward identifying and implementing good practices for scientific publishing. 

The Royal Society, along with 56 publishing organisations, is a signatory of the Joint commitment for action on inclusion and diversity in publishing. The aim is to set a new standard to ensure a more inclusive and diverse culture within scholarly publishing. 

Author diversity 

We welcome the submission of high-quality science from anywhere in the world irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity, disability or geographical location. Authors are encouraged to suggest a diverse selection of reviewers. 

Editorial board and reviewer diversity 

We continue to diversify our editorial boards. Progress has been made on gender, but there is still room for improvement. Increasing other forms of diversity (e.g., race and ethnicity) remains a priority. We constantly remind board members, reviewers and staff to be aware of their unconscious biases when selecting reviewers and making decisions.   

Collection of diversity data

To help address potential biases, we need to measure if there are biases and where they are taking place in the editorial process. This enables publishers, editorial decision makers, authors, and reviewers to identify and take achievable, specific actions to improve inclusion and diversity. We are already collecting gender, race and ethnicity data via the editorial management system (in our case ScholarOne).  

Our approach is quite simple: when an author submits a paper, they are prompted to describe their diversity via a drop-down menu (or select ‘prefer not to say’). The data is anonymized and protected. 

There is power in this simple approach – in the longer term we will be able to assess bias at each stage of the peer review process: desk reject, triage, reviewer recommendation and editor decision. Having this information is an important tool to address such biases.