Table of Contents

Topic: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Publishing is a central aspect of an academic career. The quality and impact of a faculty member’s research program is judged primarily through the quantity of publications and perceptions of value assigned to their publication venues. Systemic inequities in academic publishing make can it difficult for authors from marginalized identities—whether defined by ethnicity, gender, geography, language, nationality, race, or other identity—from making contributions to the scholarly record. These inequities create obstacles for faculty from marginalized groups from continuing and advancing in their careers.

Academic publishing, which lies at the intersection of academia, publishing, and librarianship, faces gatekeepers from each profession. Academia determines faculty hiring, tenure, and promotion; allocates research funding; and is the pool from which editors and peer reviewers are selected. Publishers determine what is suitable for publication, while librarians select what publications to purchase for collections. Authors from underrepresented and marginalized communities encounter barriers to research and publication at multiple points in the scholarly communication cycle.

In the United States, all three professions are racially homogenous, with 79% of faculty, 87.1% of librarians, and 89% of publishing professionals identifying as white (Inefuku and Roh, 2016). Globally, academic publishing is dominated by the United States, marginalizing scholars from the Global South and non-native English authors. The lack of diverse identities in these professions means that narratives that fall outside the “master narrative” created and reinforced by dominant identities and ideologies are pushed to the margins (Stanley, 2007).

As a developing sector of publishing, library publishers have the ability to intervene and reduce the impact of bias in content selection and create hospitable environments for a diversity of identities, viewpoints, and approaches.


Diversity can apply to library publishing in several ways: diversifying the library publishing workforce to be more reflective of societal demographics; ensuring library publishing systems and outputs are accessible to the widest range of users; and utilizing library publishing to increase the diversity of voices and formats represented in the scholarly record.

Broadly considered, diversity can encompass a range of personal identities and lived experiences, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, socioeconomic status, education, technological literacy, and family status. For expediency, this section will focus on increasing the diversity of voices represented in the scholarly record by examining systemic biases in academic publishing and addressing publishing inequities due to geography, language, race, and gender. However, it is important for library publishers to take a holistic approach to diversity, to ensure that in focusing on one aspect of diversity, we do not fail in considering others. (O’Donnell, et al, 2016)


This section introduces relevant resources on the topic, and provides context and guidance that will help library publishers to use them effectively.

Jump to: Diversity and Inclusion in the Published Record | Geography and Language | Scholarship Formats | Editorial and Peer Review | Publisher Contribution to Research Impact | Diversity and Inclusion in Organizational Culture

Diversity and Inclusion in the Published Record

As libraries are increasingly involved in publishing efforts they must understand how other publishers are handling diversity. By looking at examples and pursuing similar methods to ensure inclusion and diversity, library publishers will solicit diverse content and provide opportunities to underserved and underrepresented authors. Additionally, library publishers should take into consideration how diverse formats, forms of expertise, and content can foster inclusivity throughout publishing practices. The resources below represent coalitions and publishers who put an emphasis on diversity and inclusion in their publishing practices.

Geography and Language

Academic publishing is overwhelmingly dominated by publishers based in Western Europe and North America—in Scimago Journal & Country Rank, the top 100 journals are published in either the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Germany, with 49 of the top 50 journals coming from the U.S. and the U.K. (Scimago Lab, 2016). In addition to impacting who is able to publish, there is a geographical bias on what topics are selected for publication—in economics, for example, papers about the United States are more likely to be published than papers on other countries (Das et al, 2009).

As academic publishing has consolidated in Western Europe and North America, English has become the lingua franca of academic publishing. This forces scholars to choose between publishing in English in hopes of reaching a wider audience, or publishing in their native language in venues that are typically assigned lower values. If authors choose to publish in English, their work risks losing nuances that can be captured in their native language, but cannot be conveyed in English.

AuthorAID is a network of researchers that provide support and resources for researchers in low- and middle-income countries.

A resource that promotes “critical thinking about language and how we can use conscious words, portrayals, framing, and representation to empower instead of limit.”

The Journal Publishing and Practices Framework is a project of African Journals Online (AJOL) and INASP that assesses journals from the Global South and provides standards and feedback for Southern editors to improve their publishing practices.

Strauss argues that for academic publishing to allow for the use of non-traditional academic English.

Scholarship Formats

Publicly engaged and non-textual scholarly formats such as digital scholarship, oral histories, data, service, and broader public work are not recognized or valued by many academic communities, legacy publishers, or impact metrics. Faculty from underrepresented groups are often called to do works that do not fit into traditional formats of scholarly communication (Baez, 2000). New modes of scholarship may also reflect the authorship and expertise of developing scholars (undergraduate students) and those outside academia (community members). An expanded diversity of formats should be encouraged in order to validate public and non-textual formats as well as multiple forms of expertise (Antonio, 2002). Rather than require scholars to duplicate existing work into a traditionally “visible” format (e.g. scientific text-based article), library publishers can support the quality, visibility, and community values of publicly engaged scholarship. Below are resources to serve as examples and further information to encourage best practices:

A peer-reviewed publication platform by the Small Axe Project for critical and creative digital projects

  • Ellison, J., & Eatman, T. K. (2008). Scholarship in public: Knowledge creation and tenure policy in the engaged university. Imagining America, 16. Retrieved from
  • Risam, R. (Ed.). (2015). Gender, Globalization, and the Digital Humanities [Special issue]. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, 8. Retrieved from
  • Risam, R., Snow, J., & Edwards, S. (2017). Building an ethical digital humanities community: Librarian, faculty, and student collaboration. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 24(2-4), 337-349. Retrieved from

Editorial and Peer Review

Many journals employ double-anonymous peer review (where the identities of the author and reviewers are hidden from each other) to reduce bias in the review process. However, the author’s identity is visible to the editor, which subjects the author to any biases the editor may hold. Library publishers may employ triple-anonymous or open peer review to address biases in the editorial and peer-review processes. These types of peer review practices demonstrate commitment to diversity, transparency, and accessibility in scholarly communication. Below are policies and information about facilitating equitable peer review:

Article outlining procedures of the Canadian Journal of History, including a policy to send manuscripts to female reviewers first and second, then to male reviewers.

Triple-blind review at University of Chicago Press.

Review policy of Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology by the FemBot Collective, hosted by University of Maryland. Including pre-review and open peer review for scholarship in a multitude of formats.

Publisher Contribution to Research Impact

Commercially published, and therefore traditionally hegemonic scholarship, is often well-indexed and more visible within the scholarly record (Walters and Linvill 2011). Additionally, gender and geographical biases skew citation rates. Library publishers are particularly qualified to increase visibility of authors and content from diverse perspectives. Options to increase the visibility of underrepresented perspectives may include: traditional indexing, non-commercial indexing, inclusive metadata (multilingual, cultural and gender inclusive description), content translation, altmetrics, and open access. Directories and indexes with international partners should also be considered to increase discovery among Western and Non-Western regions. More information and indexes below:

INASP project supporting infrastructure and activity “aimed to provide increased the visibility, accessibility and quality of peer-reviewed journals published in developing countries.”

Diversity and Inclusion in Organizational Culture

To further identify ways that organizations can recruit and support diverse publishing staff, the following list contains codes of conduct, sustainability models, and reports on diversity. Identifying that diversity and inclusion are necessary for library publishers begins to fix the problem, but clear actions need to be taken. Understanding how other organizations and institutions are working on diversity and inclusion are included below.

Diversity Statements

Diversity statements provide transparency into the practices of organizations around diversity and inclusion. Most diversity statements address organizational and workplace diversity, while some address diversity in the materials published. Below are some diversity statements by publishers or associations representing publishing or libraries.

“For each module, the authors were asked to consider the skills, workflows, and strategies they covered through a diversity and inclusion lens… As a result, the curriculum includes guidance on recruiting a diverse staff for publishing, creating a portfolio of publications that includes underrepresented perspectives, and writing a diversity policy for the publishing program, among other topics.”

Diversifying the Professions

Describes the Mellon Foundation / Association of American University Presses funded University Press Diversity Fellowship Program.

A co-op sustainability model for diversity in scholarly publishing.

New Resources Needed

This section highlights gaps in the landscape of ethical publishing resources, and suggests areas where development of new resources could have a significant impact.

  • Sample educational materials on building diverse editorial boards and peer-reviewer pools
  • Guides for peer-reviewers on judging submissions from non-native English authors
  • Example submission templates and calls for papers that emphasize diversity and inclusion
  • Programs to increase diversity in staffing for library publishing, including scholarships, educational programs, mentor programs, internships and residencies, to attract potential employees from underrepresented groups.
  • Sample diversity statements for library publishers
  • Inclusive metadata best practices for library publishing platforms
  • Best practices and frameworks that make further consideration for underrepresented groups that do not fall within the scope of this framework
  • Additional case studies and reports from library publishers which demonstrate a commitment to equity in their practices


The recommendations in this section draw on the resources above to provide guidance to library publishers looking for concrete, actionable steps they can take in this area. They are by no means the only place to start, and they may not be feasible or appropriate in all situations, but they may provide a good a starting point for many libraries.

  • Create a diversity statement for the publishing program or point to the library’s diversity statement. Diversity statements should cover organizational/workplace diversity (if not already covered by library or institutional statements) as well as diversity in  materials published.
  • Educate graduate students and faculty on systemic biases in academic publishing and strategies to dismantle barriers
  • Provide educational resources for editors and peer-reviewers about:
    • encouraging diversity and inclusion in submissions and building diverse governing groups, editorial boards, and peer-reviewer pools.
    • considering English proficiency separately from research quality;
    • identifying intentional usage of non-standard English; and
    • writing constructive reviews to help authors develop as scholars.
  • Library publishers can expand the diversity of voices in the scholarly record by:
    • Supporting the development of publications in niche and emerging disciplines
    • Supporting the development of diverse formats (oral traditions, digital scholarship, data)
    • Supporting active efforts to index, create metadata, and disseminate via social networks to increase the impact and visibility of diverse authors and content
    • Supporting open or triple-anonymous review to decrease or create transparency around bias
  • Provide compensated work experiences for students from underrepresented groups
  • Provide access to your publications to diverse audiences through direct promotion in diverse communities and open or reduced cost to access content.

Further Reading

This section lists additional resources on this topic that may be of interest to library publishers.

Diversity and Inclusion in the Published Record and Organizational Culture

Burkhanova, R. (April 6, 2016). Taking concrete steps towards gender parity: Elsevier earns EDGE Assess certification for gender equality [Blog Post]. Retrieved from (n.d.). Gender composition of scholarly publications (1665 – 2011). Retrieved from

Inefuku, H., & Roh, C. (2016). Agents of diversity and social justice: Librarians and scholarly communication. In Kevin L. Smith & Katherine A. Dickson (Eds.). Open access and the future of scholarly communication: Policy and infrastructure. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Retrieved from

Knott, C. (2016). Not Free, Not for All: Public Libraries in the Age of Jim Crow. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.

Magi, T. J., & Garnar, M. Intellectual freedom manual (9th Ed). Chicago, IL: ALA Editions.

Meadows, A. (November 29, 2017). Diversity and inclusion at SSP: An interview with Executive Director, Melanie Dolechek [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Neiss, E. (November 15, 2016). Recap—Fall Forum: How do we make publishing more inclusive? [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Smart, P., & Conrad, L. (2017). Diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility. Learned Publishing, 30(3), 183–184.

Stanley, C. A. (2007). When counter narratives meet master narratives in the journal editorial-review process. Educational Researcher, 36(1), 14–24. doi: 10.3102/0013189X06298008

Geography and Language

Collyer, F. (2018). Global patterns in the publishing of academic knowledge: Global North, global South. Current Sociology, 66(1).

Das, J., Do, Q.-T., Shaines, K., & Srinivasan, S. (2009). U.S. and them : The geography of academic research. (Policy Research working paper no. WPS 5152). Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from

Hathcock, A. (September 27, 2016). Making the local global: The colonialism of scholarly communication [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Huttner-Koros, A. (August 21, 2015). The hidden bias of science’s universal language. The Atlantic. Retrieved from

Inefuku, H. W. (July 3, 2017). Globalization, Open Access, and the Democratization of Knowledge. EDUCAUSE Review. Retrieved from

O’Donnell, D., Bordalejo, B., Murray Ray, P., del Rio, G., & González-Blanco, E. (2016). Boundary Land: Diversity as a defining feature of the Digital Humanities. In M. Eder & J. Rybicki (Eds.). Digital Humanities 2016: Conference Abstracts, pp. 76-82. Kraków, Poland: Jagiellonian University & Pedagogical University. Retrieved from

Santos, J. V., & da Silva, P. N. (2016). Issues with publishing abstracts in english: challenges for Portuguese linguists’ authorial voices. Publications 4(2). Retrieved from

Scimago Lab. (2016). Scimago journal & country rank 2016. Retrieved from

Scholarship Formats, Editorial and Peer Review, and Research Impact

Antonio, A. L. (2002). Faculty of color reconsidered: Reassessing contributions to scholarship. The Journal of Higher Education, 73(5), 582-602.

Baez, B. (2000). Race-related service and faculty of color: Conceptualizing critical agency in academe. Higher Education, 39(3), 363-391.

Fitzpatrick, K., & Rowe, K. (2010). Keywords for open peer review. Logos (Netherlands), 21(3-4), 133-141.

Ford, E. (2017). Advancing an open ethos with open peer review. College & Research Libraries, 78(4), 406. doi:

Fox, C. W., Burns, C. S., Meyer, J. A., & Thompson, K. (2016). Editor and reviewer gender influence the peer review process but not peer review outcomes at an ecology journal. Functional Ecology, 30(1), 140-153.

Jung J., Kim JI., & Yoon J.W. (2017) A practical approach to constructing triple-blind review process with maximal anonymity and fairness. In: D. Choi & S. Guilley (Eds.). Information Security Applications: 17th International Workshop, WISA 2016, Jeju Island, Korea, August 25-27, 2016, Revised Selected Papers, pp. 198-209. New York, NY: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-56549-1

Logan, D. (March 7, 2016). The importance of a gender-balanced editorial team [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Topaz, C. M., & Sen, S. (2016). Gender representation on journal editorial boards in the mathematical sciences. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0161357.

Walters, W., & Linvill, A. (2011). Bibliographic index coverage of open-access journals in six subject areas. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62(8), 1614-1628.


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