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Increasing Diversity in the Published Record

Published onOct 14, 2020
Increasing Diversity in the Published Record

The theme of 2020 International Open Access Week is Open with Purpose: Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion. Academic publishing is one of the primary ways in which new knowledge is shared with the world. By undergoing editorial and peer review, research and scholarship is evaluated for originality, quality, and accuracy before publication.  

The practices of editorial and peer review, however, can also serve as gatekeepers that limit diversity within the scholarly record. A study of peer review outcomes from the journal eLife, for example, showed that women and authors from outside North America and Europe were underrepresented in the author and peer reviewer pools. The review also showed that reviewers favored manuscripts from authors of the same gender or who were from the same country. Editors may assign manuscripts about marginalized communities or that adopt an anti-oppressive or anti-racist approach to reviewers who are not versed in the methodologies or theories applied.  

Commercial considerations in publishing inhibit the publication of research by and about communities that publishers consider too “niche” to attract a wide audience. Research about countries outside of Europe and North America is often undervalued and overlooked by journals and publishers based in the Global North.  A study of articles published in economics journals between 1985 and 2005 found that articles written about the United States were more likely to be published in top-tier economics journals, while only 1.5% of all articles written about other countries were published in these journals. 

The growth of open access publishing increases the opportunities available for publishing knowledge by and about marginalized communities. Many open access publishers, including the Iowa State University Digital Press, operate without a profit motive. Because Open Access publications are free to read, subscription costs are no longer a barrier and the research in these publications is available to anyone in the world with internet access. 

The diversification of the scholarly record is a central aspect of the Digital Press’s mission. The press welcomes publications from students, emerging scholars, authors from underrepresented groups, in languages other than English, and from voices from outside academia. We encourage journal editors and conference organizers to build editorial boards and peer reviewer pools that are inclusive of a diversity of identities, geographies, perspectives, and lived experiences appropriate the scope of the journal or conference. 

The press has published several titles related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. These include: 

The Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis, run by graduate students and based in the School of Education, is the first journal published through the Digital Press. The journal publishes works that utilize a critical framework and a social justice lens. Past issues have focused on topics including health justice, social justice in education, and social justice in food systems.

The U.S. Latino/a Studies Program 25 Year Anniversary Symposium: Digital Proceedings shares videos and posters from last year’s symposium that celebrated the 25th year anniversary of the founding of Iowa State’s U.S. Latino/a Studies Program. The symposium included panels and presentations from Iowa State faculty and students, as well as Latinx Studies faculty from other Midwestern universities. 

Dyese Matthews and Kelly L. Reddy Best’s Collegiate Fashion and Activism: Black Women’s Styles on the College Campus is a catalog of an exhibit mounted in the Textiles and Clothing Museum that uses counter-storytelling to analyze how Black women college students use fashion to express their identity, activism, and empowerment. 

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