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Diversity, equity and inclusion in publishing at Elsevier: a reviewer guide

At Elsevier, we promote and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) throughout the research and publishing process, in collaboration with our editors, society partners, the research community and other publishers, via the joint community for action on inclusion and diversity in publishingopens in new tab/window.

DEI protects against gaps and biases, minimizes confirmation bias, and promotes innovation and development; it is crucial for rigor, quality, and progress in science. It benefits not only individuals, by supporting every person to advance and excel, but also ensures more equitable and impactful research outcomes for society as a whole.

"We know inclusion is the right thing to do. Today's researchers are addressing the most pressing challenges facing humanity. The only way to make a lasting impact is by harnessing the full contribution of every brilliant researcher, whoever they are. Inclusion and diversity are critical for science and innovation."

Kumsal Bayazit


Kumsal Bayazit

Chief Executive Officer at Elsevier

At Elsevier, our approach to advancing DEI throughout the research and publishing is collaborative and evidence-based.

We undertake a range of activities to support inclusion and diversity in science. Our March 2022 Inclusion & Diversity Advisory Board Report summarized our progress during the two years since the Board's inception.

Processes & tools

We innovate our processes, workflows and tools to support DEI throughout the publishing process.

Avoiding publication bias

Initiatives such as Registered Reports and Results Masked Review aim for work to be judged on the merits of the research question and methodology, not the findings.

Registered Reports requires authors to submit and commit to their protocols before experiments are conducted. The journal then accepts the paper in principle, based on whether editors believe the protocol has merit, and commits to publishing the research regardless of the results.


With Results Masked Review, the experiments have already taken place, but the reviewers are first sent the paper with the results masked.

Both models seek to prevent publication bias and enhance transparency, thereby ensuring that results aren't skewed in pursuit of publication.

Inclusive peer review

Using diverse sources to identify suitable reviewers helps to diversify the candidates who are invited to review or join journal's reviewer communities. In support of this, we provide you with a selection of toolsopens in new tab/window, including Elsevier's "Find Reviewers using Scopus"opens in new tab/window in Editorial Manager.

Best practice

We strive to raise awareness and understanding, and to encourage adoption of best practice (including through policies), in pursuit of DEI.

Self-reporting diversity data in Editorial Manager

We pursue an evidence-based approach to advancing DEI. In line with this, we are inviting editors, reviewers and authors to optionally self-report their diversity data in Editorial Manager. The gender identity, race and ethnicity (GRE) schemas used as part of this are those developed collaboratively across publishersopens in new tab/window, led by Elsevier's Dr Holly Falk-Krzesinski, and endorsed in April 2022opens in new tab/window. The self-reported data will enable us to put in place actions, set goals and measure progress to improve diversity across journal editorial processes and drive greater equity in publishing and research more broadly.

Cartoon of a diverse research community

Editorial team diversity

In 2016, we began engaging editors on the importance of gender-balanced editorial teams and we continue this dialogue today, for example, evaluating how we support women researchers to advance into editorial roles and seeking to learn what more we can do.

We work closely with our editors to promote transparency about editorial team diversity, and accountability to our communities about ambitions to further DEI. All Elsevier journals display the geographical breakdown of Editorial Boards on their journal homepages, and over 1,300 titles display self-reported gender data. Around 75% of Elsevier journals have published pledges on their journal homepages committing to improve diversity in their editorial teams with defined objectives.

 Gender diversity of the editors of an Elsevier neuroscience journal

Example of self-reported editorial gender identities on the journal homepage of an Elsevier neuroscience journal.

Training and guidance in your role

If you are a new or aspiring reviewer, we work to provide you with a thorough grounding in the principles and practice of refereeing via our certified peer reviewer courseopens in new tab/window provided in English and in Chinese. You can also volunteer to review for relevant journals via the Reviewer Hub.

We took a deep dive into inclusive peer review in September 2021, publishing a four-part article series: 

The Elsevier Researcher Academyopens in new tab/window is regularly updated with information and insights to support your development as a peer reviewer.

Training and guidance for other roles

Researcher Academy includes an Editor Essentials module on inclusion and diversity. This provides editors with practical actions to advance DEI among journals’ Editorial Boards, reviewers and authors.

Similarly, we continuously review and enhance guidance to provide authors with the most up-to-date advice on how to promote inclusion and diversity in their research and publication practices. Our Researcher Academy inclusion and diversity modulesopens in new tab/window and journals’ guides for authors are key sources of information. Our guides for authors advise on the use of inclusive language, discussed further in this Authors’ Update article on using language to empower.

In 2023, Elsevier, Cell Press and The Lancet incorporated the Sex and Gender Equity in Research (SAGER) guidelinesopens in new tab/window into their information for authors, using these guidelines to develop a special section on reporting sex- and gender-based analyses. Researchers can now find these guidelines in all Cell Pressopens in new tab/window journals, including some of its society partner journals; The Lancetopens in new tab/window journals; and more than 2,300 Elsevieropens in new tab/window journals. This effort is aimed to improve not only DEI within research, but to enhance the accuracy and integrity of the research we publish; you can learn more here.

Avoiding unconscious bias

Several organizationsopens in new tab/window and groupsopens in new tab/window, including Elsevieropens in new tab/window, are making conscious efforts to tackle unconscious bias which, if left unchecked, can risk negatively impacting the publication of good research. This has led to the creation of a number of resources which can be employed to identify and combat unconscious bias or to reduce the likelihood of it affecting the peer review and academic publishing process, summarized in this article exploring unconscious bias, and on our dedicated unconscious bias page.

Inclusive name change policy

Elsevier’s trans-inclusive policy for author name changes allows transgender authors, and other authors who need to change their name privately, e.g., for reasons of personal safety, to update their name on previously published papers with no no erratum or corrigendum. This policy, which is aligned with industry best practiceopens in new tab/window, enables us to help protect authors’ privacy and safety, while still safeguarding the scholarly record.

Your first step

I want to get involved, where should I start?

If you have not already done so, please view our Researcher Academy inclusion and diversity modulesopens in new tab/window. We encourage you to work with your collaborators and co-authors to discuss how to advance DEI in your research and writing practice.