Today marks the end of Peer Review Week 2018, a global celebration of the essential role that peer review plays in maintaining scientific quality and progress. The theme of this year’s event is diversity and inclusion, with the organizers hoping to stimulate an “open debate on what diversity and inclusion in peer review looks like, why it’s important, and how to support it”.
Events throughout the week have brought together scientists, learned societies and publishers to understand and address the underlying biases in peer review. Here at IOP Publishing – which publishes Physics World along with more than 70 scientific journals – it has provided an impetus for us to examine the diversity of the authors, referees and editorial board members of journals owned by IOP Publishing.
But it was surprisingly difficult to find reliable data on the gender and geographic make-up of journal contributors, reveals Kim Eggleton, who manages the peer-review teams at IOP Publishing. “We generally don’t capture any demographic data as part of the peer-review process, as we are only interested in the quality of the science and the expertise of the reviewer,” Eggleton explains.
Speaking in the latest edition of the Physics World Weekly podcast, Eggleton highlights the importance of diversity in peer review. “Recent studies in other fields have shown that greater diversity in the reviewer database leads to better science because it allows different points of view to be represented,” she says. “So we commissioned a report to find out where we are, and to see whether we need to change anything.”
The result is a detailed analysis of the gender and geographic diversity of all contributors to journals owned by IOP Publishing. Physics World news editor Michael Banks has reported on the key findings from the study – which includes 12 recommendations to boost diversity and inclusion in IOP Publishing’s peer-review processes – while the 30-page report can be read in full via the IOP Publishing website. “In common with many other publishers, we wanted to be transparent about our findings, whether good or bad,” says Eggleton.
You can listen to the complete interview with Kim Eggleton in this week’s edition of the Physics World Weekly podcast. The podcast also features a discussion about Physics World’s recently published Special Report on China.