Editors’ Vox is a blog from AGU’s Publications Department.
In 2018, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) adopted a Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan, which sets forth a vision for increasing representation in the geosciences by increasing the range of voices and opinions in our programs. Expanding the geosciences in this way is also integral to AGU’s strategic plan which explains that diversity, inclusion, equity, ethics, and cultural awareness are sewn into the fabric of all our activities.
A few plan objectives rely on an assessment of our current practices by first understanding whose voices we’re bringing in and whose voices are passed over. Part of this critical assessment is done via regular surveying and transparent reporting of voluntary and self-reported demographic data of our community, as well as geographical data of user accounts. Though we have gathered a significant amount of data over the years, as reported in the annual AGU DEI Dashboard, there are still gaps to be filled. For example, our author and reviewer groups have 75% and 77% completion rates for gender data, but only completion rates of 25% and 34%, respectively, on race and ethnicity. To improve our data set, which will provide a more accurate picture of our community, please consider updating your profile:
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For AGU’s Publications (our books program and 23 scientific journals), the responsibility of action towards increasing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) is shared by our editorial boards and staff, and supported by various groups at AGU, including the AGU D&I Advisory Committee and the AGU Ethics and Equity team. We accelerated our DEIA efforts in February 2022 with the launch of the AGU Publications DEIA Sub-Committee, which consists of journal editors and staff members.
There are four overarching goals guiding our DEIA activities:
- Establish a clear position and commitment to advance DEIA through our publications
- Strengthen editorial boards and reviewer pools through diversity of perspectives
- Review and improve our end-to-end process and policies
- Ensure our publications content fairly and inclusively represents people and communities
Accurate and transparent reporting of our demographic data is essential to achieving all four goals, as well as fulfilling the promise we’ve made as a signatory to the Joint Commitment for Action on Inclusion and Diversity in Publishing. The Joint Commitment is a collective of 56 publishers (as of the publication of this article) to review publishing processes and minimize biases in scholarly publishing. One important tenet of the Commitment is to understand the research community, which requires us to collect self-reported data and analyze anonymized demographic data to ultimately understand where action is needed. AGU uses the data we’ve collected (e.g., member demographics, article submissions, peer reviews, abstracts from annual meetings) to see who is participating in our programs and understand the state of the Earth and space sciences. We also use this data to identify potential bias or inequity in our programs, develop baseline views and goals, and track progress.
To make meaningful progress, it is essential that we continue to improve the accuracy of our data. The various dashboards and analyses we’ve published, including our annual AGU DEI Dashboard, inevitably exclude those for whom we do not have data. Unknown and incomplete demographics create weaknesses in analyses and strategies for increasing representation.
Our data has allowed us to contribute to the scientific record on the peer review process and equity in scientific programs. Here are some of the published research articles:
- “Journals invite too few women to referee”
- “Age, gender, and international author networks in the Earth and space sciences: Implications for addressing implicit bias”
- “Gender inequity in speaking opportunities at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting”
- “Association between author diversity and acceptance rates and citations in peer-reviewed Earth science manuscripts”
- “Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Authors and Reviewers of American Geophysical Union Journals”
Analyzing data is important, but data-supported actions are also important. AGU will continue to use the data you provide to design and implement changes and initiatives to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in scientific publishing. We recognize that while not all diversity is visible, having demographic data will help us review our progress year after year and provide more transparency into our efforts.
So far, the data has helped us propel many of our efforts. Here are some accomplishments we’ve achieved in the past few years:
- reached gender parity of those identifying as men and women among Editors-in-Chief and improved geographic diversity among various editorial boards
- launched a training program on implicit bias in peer review for our 850+ editors and associate editors, starting with live workshops in December and additional on-demand training, resources and workshops available in 2023 and beyond
- reviewed and updated language in our submission system to be more inclusive, reminding participants of the importance of increasing participation of historically underrepresented groups and recognizing potential biases
- adopted the author name change policy and optional use of pronouns with author names in published articles
- published a Reviewer Tone Table that reminds reviewers to provide supportive, constructive feedback for revisions or next steps
- expanded the AGU waiver fund to ensure that lack of funding is not a barrier to publishing with AGU
With your support, together we can develop better plans and strategies for a more inclusive and equitable geosciences. With more accurate data, we can increase the diversity that is contributing to important decisions that ultimately aim to address global issues and those facing generations to come. Please update your profile today.
—Paige Wooden (email@example.com; 0000-0001-5104-8440), American Geophysical Union; and Mia Ricci (firstname.lastname@example.org; 0000-0002-8789-0565), American Geophysical Union