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Diversity and inclusion: key for open science

A commitment to open science can only be realised with an equally strong commitment towards diversity and inclusion in scientific publishing. At its core, open science embraces transparency, collaboration and participation. These principles should be shared with the aims of any robust diversity and inclusion (D&I) programme.  

This was the inspiration behind our 2018 white paper, Diversity and Inclusion in Peer Review at IOP Publishing. We wanted to understand the current state of D&I across our publishing services, identifying opportunities for improvement, and ways we can deliver greater transparency for the research community.  

Using an API called genderize, we examined the gender distribution of a representative sample of our contacts database. Between 2014 and 2018, we found female authors, reviewers and editorial board members were underrepresented, and an over representation within those groups of people from the UK, other Western European countries and the US.  

The report highlighted the need for our publishing services to be accessible to as many people as possible, regardless of their background, and to welcome those who may not have access to the same resources and expertise as others. With unique connections to the research community, publishers are in an influential position to empower more people to participate in science through the publishing process, and further embed the values of open science by enabling greater inclusivity. 

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A commitment to open science can only be realised with an equally strong commitment towards diversity and inclusion in scientific publishing

Our new D&I initiatives 

Following a series of recommendations from the report, we have introduced a gender-neutral title option on our peer review account creation form; provided guidance for reviewers and training for our in-house editorial staff on unconscious bias; and launched a double-blind peer review option on several IOP Publishing journals.  

Other work on improving openness, transparency and engagement includes: the launch of a transparent peer review trial in collaboration with Publons; new policies on open data; the development of our Publishing Support guidelines pages; and the introduction of our Track My Article service. 

Next steps  

There are further challenges to overcome. In addition to efforts to increase representation from India and China, we also need to improve practices for diversity data collection and analysis. One solution we are investigating is the introduction of a gender question on the peer review account creation form. As a further commitment to diversity and inclusion, we are developing a long-term plan under the leadership of Kim Eggleton, our new Research Integrity and Inclusion Manager

We hope our commitment to achieving parity of opportunity for any researcher to become an author, reviewer or editorial board member, will make a positive contribution to the scientific communities we serve, and encourage more voices to participate in scientific endeavour. We aim to lead from the front and be an integral part of building a publishing community that strives for openness, transparency, diversity and inclusion.  


Guillaume Wright
Senior Publisher

Jennifer Sanders
Production Team Manager