This is the last in a series of posts asking for comments on a draft “Good Practices Guide” for advancing diversity in philosophy.
The first in the series, published on Monday, concerned practices regarding sexual harassment, caregivers, and staff-student relationships; the second covered the sections of the guide on conferences and teaching; the third was about the sections on hiring and tenure evaluation.
Today’s post asks for feedback on the sections regarding journals, research projects, and learned societies.
Good Practice Policy: Philosophy Journals
Publication in philosophy journals plays a major role in the reputation and career progression of their authors, as—to a lesser extent —does participation in the selection process through membership of editorial boards, refereeing, etc. The recommendations below aim to ensure that, as far as possible, members of under-represented groups are not disadvantaged in either capacity by their identity.
1. The editorial board should review the extent to which editorial and refereeing processes are anonymous.
a. Where the process is not anonymous, the board should consider whether to introduce anonymity (philosophy journals with Interdisciplinary content are most likely to benefit from anonymized peer-review and editorial practices, while some data suggest that more prestigious philosophy journals benefit less – the data are not clear on why).
2. Diversify representatives—editors, editorial board members, referees, trustees, staff, etc.—to include more people from under-represented groups (including philosophers residing in non-Anglophone majority countries) and on important but neglected topics of interest to a diverse range of philosophers, utilizing a diverse range of methods.
a. Commit to inclusion with influence.
b. Ensure that member contributions are recognized and, where possible, appropriately compensated and rewarded.
3. Set specific, achievable targets to make progress in increasing diversity in authorship and content in your journal.
a. Consider publishing and promoting work by people from under-represented groups at least in proportion to their presence in the part of the discipline that your journal covers.
b. Consider including at least one special issue or symposium engaging with works by underrepresented philosophers or in underrepresented areas of philosophy in your journal.
c. Collect data on diversity relevant publishing practices, e.g. submission and publication rates for members of under-represented groups, referee and editorial board composition, etc. and track progress in increasing diversity in your journal.
d. Issue yearly reports on new commitments to diversity in the journals and report on progress towards achieving targets.
i. Consider including data on the journal’s demographics, makeup of editorial board, referee pool, authorships, and submissions.
4. Implement promising practices to meet these targets and increase diversity in your journal, such as:
a. Solicit submissions of promising work by members of under-represented groups (PhilPeople might be a useful resource). When inviting authors, always bear in mind the importance of increasing diversity in the field (potentially via special issues).
b. Aim to include a fair representation of relevant work by members of under-represented groups.
c. Consider reserving more space for articles by members of under-represented groups to help meet specific targets.
d. Consider publishing more papers of interest to under-represented groups in philosophy and on important but neglected topics of interest to a diverse range of philosophers. This might include increasing the proportions of articles published in value theory, history, feminism, race, disability, and philosophical work in less commonly studied philosophical traditions.
e. Weigh the value of anonymity and non-anonymous editorial discretion, bearing in mind that evidence is mixed regarding the effectiveness of anonymous review in increasing diversity. Take special care to ensure that any non-anonymous parts of the review process do not omit or unfairly disadvantage authors from under-represented groups.
f. Attend to your regional context as well as the overall global context (e.g. the importance of including adequate geographical and indigenous representation in your journal).
5. Implement diversity-supporting referee practices, such as:
a. Encourage referees and authors to avoid using language that is insensitive to cultural differences or that inappropriately excludes or offends any group of people based on their ability/disability, age, ethnicity and race, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, nationality, etc.
b. Encourage referees and authors to check that papers cite and discuss related work and that work by people from underrepresented groups have not been overlooked.
c. Request referees to not google paper titles or request that they alert the editor prior to refereeing the paper if they know or have a strong suspicion about who wrote it.
d. Encourage referees to not reject promising papers on grounds of writing quality, if the concerns are merely stylistic, can be repaired to an adequate level, and the philosophical content is good. This helps ensure fair consideration of work by philosophers who are not native speakers of English.
e. Encourage referees to consider accepting papers on topics of under-represented groups in philosophy and on important but neglected topics of interest to a diverse range of philosophers.
f. Encourage timely and developmental reviews, since members of vulnerable groups are especially disadvantaged by long delays before publication.
g. The editorial board should consider providing referees with an explicit editorial policy on refereeing
i. See, for example, the journal Cognition Referee Guidelines
6. Implement promising practices to increase accessibility in journals, such as:
a. Create structurally-tagged content.
b. Utilize text-to-speech capability for print-impaired users in the absence of an audio book.
c. Include a navigable table of contents within your publications, and provide a defined reading order (including, for example, appropriate links between the main flow of the text and any sidebar or box out text) to help those reading through audio to navigate their way through the article
d. Include Alt-text descriptions to explain illustrations for readers with reduced access to graphic information.
e. Give readers control over the font (size, style, and color), background color, and line spacing for online publications, and/or make them available in html.
f. Consider trying to make your journal more accessible for those in developing countries by making your journal open access in those regions.
g. Employ W3C web accessibility standards where feasible, and check for web accessibility.
7. Evaluate progress at regular intervals and revise practices accordingly.
a. Work with researchers to identify particular areas to improve for achieving better representation of authors and marginalized philosophies.
b. Isolate and implement evidence-based practices that increase diversity in the identified areas.
c. Identify barriers to making progress on achieving diversity targets.
d. Communicate, collaborate, and advocate to overcome identified barriers. Certain academic publishers have policies that hinder progress. Assertively engage with the issue where possible.
8. Officially adopt these diversity-promoting practices and widely publicize your journal’s targets and commitment to promoting diversity.
a. Inform all representatives and bind future representatives to uphold these standards.
b. Publicly and explicitly adopt diversity-promoting practices, helping to create a culture of concern that enhances the journal’s reputation for welcoming diversity, attracting more diverse submissions.
Good Practice Policy: Research Projects
Large-scale (and normally externally funded) research projects often engage in activities that fall within the scope of the Good Practice Policy – hiring staff, running conferences, and so on. We recognise that some such projects may wish to sign up to the Policy independently of (or in addition to) the departments of the project’s investigators; this document allows this by, in effect, pulling together the relevant recommendations from the other Good Practice documents. The term ‘management team’ below is used to refer to whoever takes overall responsibility for the project. This might be the PI, the PI together with co-investigators, so some larger group.
1. Management teams should make sure that members of hiring panels know about the workings of unconscious bias. (A good source of general information for hiring panels is here: wiseli.engr.wisc.edu/docs/BiasBrochure_2ndEd.pdf.)
2. Management teams should ensure that hiring panels (at both shortlisting and interview stages) include at least one, and preferably more than one, member of a marginalized group, unless there are exceptional practical reasons why this is impossible. But they should be aware that the presence of such members on the panel on its own will not correct for bias.
3. Management teams should agree specific hiring criteria (and their weighting) in advance and stick to the agreed criteria (and weighting).
4. As far as possible, management teams should strive to allow sufficient time for non-rushed consideration of job applications.
5. Management teams should consider ways of anonymising parts of their hiring process (e.g. by considering writing samples anonymously), and implement any ways of doing so that are practically feasible.
Conferences and Seminar Series
Management teams should implement all of the recommendations in the ‘Conferences and Events’ section of these Good Practice guidelines.
Where members of the project team (including research students) have caregiving responsibilities, the management team should implement all of the relevant recommendations in the ‘Caregivers’ section of the document.
Publication of Edited Collections
Large research projects often produce edited collections as outputs. The editorial team should take steps to ensure that individuals from underrepresented groups are well represented amongst the contributors to any such collection.
Advisory Boards, research Students, and Other Associated People
Where the research project involves the formation of an advisory board, visiting fellowships, PhD studentships, etc. The management team should take concrete steps towards ensuring that individuals from underrepresented groups are well represented amongst the members/applicants.
Good Practice Policy: Learned societies
As national bodies with some influence, especially when it comes to philosophy conferences and journals, learned societies are well placed to make a concrete difference to the representation of underrepresented groups in philosophy. We suggest that learned societies adopt the following policy.
Executive Committee and Officers
Learned societies should ensure that a reasonable proportion of underrepresented groups are nominated for positions on their executive committees and for official positions (President, Secretary, etc.).
1. Where learned societies organize their own conferences and seminar series, they should follow the relevant Good Practice recommendations on Conferences and Events.
2. Where learned societies distribute funding to others to organize conferences and seminar series, they should make it a requirement of funding that the conference organizers follow the relevant Good Practice recommendations on Conferences and Events.
3. Learned societies should consider adopting a formal policy on chairing 20 seminars/conference sessions, for their own events and/or for those that they fund. See again the Good Practice recommendations on Conferences and Events, for some specific proposals you might consider implementing.
4. Learned societies should monitor the proportion of individuals from under represented groups at conferences and seminar series that they fund. Where a conference or seminar series manifests an obvious imbalance, the learned society should make enquiries about the steps taken to promote representation, in order to satisfy themselves that appropriate steps were taken by the organizers.