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 publishing(opens 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.
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.
Inclusion 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 tools(opens in new tab/window), including Elsevier's "Find Reviewers using Scopus"(opens in new tab/window) in Editorial Manager.
We strive to raise awareness and understanding, and 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 (EM). The gender identity, race and ethnicity (GRE) schemas used as part of this are those developed collaboratively across publishers(opens in new tab/window), led by Elsevier's Dr. Holly Falk-Krzesinski, and endorsed in April this year(opens 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.
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 support our journals in being transparent about editorial team diversity and accountable to our communities about ambitions to further DEI. All Elsevier journals display the geographical breakdown of Editorial Boards on their journal homepages, and over 1,000 titles display self-reported data on their handling editor's gender identities, with a further expansion to full editorial teams planned. Over half of Elsevier journals have published pledges on their journal homepages committing to improve diversity in their editorial teams with defined objectives.
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 course(opens in new tab/window) (a Chinese language version is also available). From here you are signposted to the Reviewer Hub where you can volunteer to review(opens in new tab/window) for relevant journals.
We took a deep-dive into inclusive peer review in September 2021, publishing a four-part article series:
Please continue to refer to Elsevier Researcher Academy(opens in new tab/window) for the latest information and insights to support you.
Training and guidance for other roles
Our Editor Essentials module on inclusion and diversity provides editors with practical actions to advance inclusion and diversity 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 modules(opens 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. We are currently working on introducing a section on the Sex and Gender Equity in Research (SAGER) guidelines(opens in new tab/window)which recognize the importance of sex and gender within the research itself, a dimension of analysis that has a critical impact on research quality and outcomes.
Avoiding unconscious bias
Several organizations(opens in new tab/window) and groups(opens in new tab/window), Elsevier among them(opens 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 invisibly, i.e., with a resupply and no erratum / corrigendum. This policy, which is aligned with industry best practice(opens 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 do one thing today, make it this: If you have not already done so, please view our Researcher Academy inclusion and diversity modules(opens in new tab/window) and with the insights gained and ideas sparked, work with your collaborators and co-authors to discuss how to advance DEI in your research and writing practice.