Some steps editors can take to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within their journals
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is something that we care deeply about at SAGE. We are aware that the publishing industry, including SAGE, has much more work to do in order to better reflect the diversity of the world we seek to educate and inform. Our core SAGE Journals DEI pledges are published here.
We urge our journal editors to take action and commit to increasing diversity in their editorial boards, in peer review and in their author base. Research has shown that under the right conditions, increased diversity can improve the performance of a team.
Here, we outline three key aspects that can help to support change, and actions that you can take to support and encourage diversity within your journal.
Research shows that journals with more diverse editorial boards are more likely to publish more diverse research articles – which in turn increases the breadth and depth of your content and supports the equitable development of knowledge in your field.
- Advocate - Your editorial team should include a broad range of voices and represent a range of backgrounds, academic experience, ethnicities, and genders.
- Evaluate – Assess your current editorial board and establish a set of diversity, equity, and inclusion targets for the makeup of your editorial board.
- Appoint a DEI lead for your journal, responsible for monitoring progress and developing strategies to improve diversity.
- Branch out - During the recruitment of your editorial team, make a real effort to reach a diverse portfolio of candidates by:
- Asking current board members to nominate colleagues from underrepresented groups
- Supporting junior academics: if a candidate is not experienced, think about mentoring schemes or involve more junior academics in roles that can prepare them to become editors in the future. Note, that in certain disciplines it's likely that people of color, women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, people with disabilities, and numerous others are likely to have experienced systemic barriers and/or may not have received equality of opportunity during their careers.
- Advertising all vacancies for editorial positions rather than solely relying on personal networks.
- Posting open calls for expression of interest to join your board.
- Learn – We encourage you to do your own research and learning on diversity, and urge your editorial board members to do the same. If you or your editorial board members have the opportunity to attend inclusivity training, please take this up.
- Represent –It is important to have diverse representation within your field, not just in relation to subject expertise but also in relation to background, gender identity, ethnicity, and geography. This will support equity and inclusivity in peer review, which will increase the diversity of your content – which in turn will encourage submissions from authors from a wider range of backgrounds and experiences. Consider posting an open call for interested reviewers to recruit volunteers outside of your current pool.
- Refresh - When inviting reviewers, be sure to diversify instead of relying on the same pool of reviewers that you always use. Bringing in fresh perspectives regularly will improve the quality of reviews you receive while also helping you to avoid reviewer fatigue. Consider inviting early career researchers as reviewers on your journal.
- Have perspective - Take into consideration the topic of the article that you are inviting reviewers for. Does it focus on regional data? If so, be sure to invite reviewers who are familiar with the content. For example, an article about maternal mortality rates in Ethiopia would benefit from having a reviewer that is familiar with the healthcare situation in that country. If an article is on the topic of gender non-conformity then seek to avoid relying solely on cis-gender reviewers to assess the material where possible.
- Be objective - Be mindful of the possibility of unconscious biases playing a part in your decision-making or in the peer review process. We all have unconscious biases; in the context of peer review they could influence a reviewer positively or negatively based on an author’s name, institution, professional status, language skills, or location where the research was conducted. The important thing is to regularly challenge oneself and one’s assumptions, and to encourage reviewers to do the same. Consider a double-anonymized peer review policy (if you don’t already have one) as one way of combatting such biases.
- Communicate - Use inclusive and bias-free language when communicating with your authors. Submission system email templates can be updated to have more inclusive wording. See further information on inclusive language examples in the resources below.
- Adjust - Be mindful that some authors may have disabilities or neurodiverse conditions, and you should be prepared to make reasonable adjustments to ensure support is given where needed – for example, by arranging a call to discuss review feedback, or allowing extra time for revisions. Authors should likewise be encouraged to have an open conversation about their needs.
- Be understanding - Bear in mind that some authors will be writing in their second language and base your decisions on the quality of the research rather than the language. If extensive language edits are needed, consider directing them to SAGE Author Services and inviting them to resubmit once the article has been improved.
- Expand your outreach - If you commission articles for your journal, consider the diversity of the authors you invite. Are they representative of the wider discipline? Be inclusive in your invites to increase the diversity of authorship in your journal. The same rules apply when recruiting guest editors for special issues or collections.
For more resources on increasing inclusivity and reducing unconscious bias, please visit:
Please reach out to your SAGE contact if you have any questions or for advice on taking action on diversity within your journal.