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Making progress towards a more inclusive research ecosystem

21 mars 2022

Par Domiziana Francescon

Inclusion and diversity illustration

Elsevier's Inclusion & Diversity Advisory Board report focuses on four areas for progress

Inequities in academic research manifest in many different ways, from the low proportion of women who are tenured professors, to the low rates of grants awarded to women and researchers who are members of underrepresented racial & ethnic groups in research, to the lack of appropriate sex and gender-based analysis in research studies.

As a global leader in research information & analytics and scientific publishing, Elsevier can make an impact in key areas to enhance diversity and inclusion in research across gender, race & ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical ability, and geographical dimensions.

In March 2020, Elsevier established the Inclusion & Diversity Advisory Board, with a global a group of leading academic researchers and scientists, each of whom have been proponents of social equity, inclusion and diversity throughout their distinguished careers.

The mission of the Board is to create a more equitable research ecosystem by:

  • Influencing and improving gender, racial and ethnic diversity and inclusion, and geographic representation in academic research, e.g., across Editorial Boards and peer review

  • Helping set standards and best practices for incorporating I&D principles in scientific research

  • Driving I&D initiatives that impact career progression in academia of underrepresented groups

Elsevier Inclusion and Diversity Advisory Board 2020 - 2021 Report -Making progress towards a more inclusive research ecosystem. A summary of initiatives supported by the Board

Rapport du comité consultatif sur l’inclusion et la diversité d’Elsevier pour 2020 - 2021

Télécharger le rapport complet S’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre

Key initiatives and progress areas

Improving the diversity of Editorial Boards and developing a Gender Diversity Indicator for journals

During 2021, Elsevier has increased the representation of women on Editorial Boards of proprietary journals from 16% to 24%. Women’s participation in International Advisory Boards of The LancetS’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre group’s 23 journals rose from 30% in early 2019 to 53% at the end of 2021, and to 39% for the Cell PressS’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre journals.

With the aim to create transparency on current gender diversity at an individual journal Board level, we have set out to develop a gender diversity indicator, which would be shared on the journal home page. In February 2021, approximately 550 Elsevier journals displayed the Editor Gender Diversity Indicator and visualization pod on their homepages. By the end of 2021, 772 journals were displaying the Indicator (43% of proprietary journals).

Gender diversity distribution of editors and benchmark diversity distribution

Comparison of gender diversity distribution

Implementing gender and race and ethnicity self-reporting for researchers using Elsevier’s submission system  

Data collection is key for measuring our progress in moving to more equitable participation in research. The goal of this initiative is to determine how to capture gender and race and ethnicity self-reported information on Elsevier’s submission systems, the team:

Analyzing how the COVID-19 lockdown has impacted women as authors and peer reviewers

Elsevier collaborated on a research study with academic researchers of PEERES’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre, analyzing Elsevier journal submission and peer review data through a gender lens to understand whether the pandemic has impacted these areas. The results showedS’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre that women in the age group of 40-50 across all disciplines and in every corner of the globe have been penalized more than other age cohorts during lockdowns during the first wave of the pandemic.

Integrating the sex and gender dimension to advance SDG research  

Elsevier’s International Center for the Study of Research (ICSR) worked closely with Dr Elizabeth Pollitzer, founder and director of PortiaS’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre and a member of the Elsevier I&D Board, on a studyS’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre to provide a benchmark proof-of-concept for the development of inclusion of sex and gender considerations as a critical dimension of sustainability research.

The study demonstrates that there is variability on how sex and gender factors into research output connected to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG5 (Gender Equality) and SDG3 (Good Health and Well-being) are the only SDGs with more than 60% of the publications factoring in sex and/or gender. The remaining 14 SDGs have less than 40% of publications that include sex and/or gender research, and therefore such research is at risk of producing outcomes that are not inclusive.

Gender Indicator and Board global representation for Brain Research

Gender Indicator and Board global representation on homepage for Elsevier's journal Brain Research

Accelerating existing institutional level initiatives supporting career progression and improving inclusive academic environment via partnerships  

Starting with the very first Gender Summit in 2011, Elsevier has supported the Gender Summits through a range of financial and in-kind support, providing expertise in Editorial Board diversity, gender balance at conferences, sex-disaggregated methodologies and developing new editorial guidelines and training on sex and gender in research.

In November 2021, Elsevier made an additional $200,000 contribution to the Elsevier FoundationS’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre to establish a new early career researcher program focusing on career progression for women researchers and underrepresented scientists from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Input, advice and expertise from Elsevier I&D Advisory Board members including Nieng Yan and Miyoko Watanabe were critical in shaping the new partnerships.

Chart showing publications that include gender and/or sex research

Percentage of publications that include gender and/or sex research (Source: Rachel Herbert, Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski and Andrew Plume: "Sustainability Through a Gender Lens," Sept 2020, SSRN)

Group photo of organizing committee of the Gender Summit 17 (Europe)

The organizing committee of the Gender Summit 17 (Europe) celebrating the success of the conference, Amsterdam, October 2019.

Last year, the Elsevier Foundation published a visual retrospective to celebrate 10 years of the Gender Summit and its collaboration with Portia.


Portrait photo of Domiziana Francescon


Domiziana Francescon

Partnerships Manager