How publishers are ensuring inclusivity in peer review: Interview with Charlie Kelner of Hindawi
I’m in conversation with Charlie Kelner to understand how publishers are and can foster inclusivity in peer review. Charlotte (Charlie) Kelner is a Research Engagement Manager at Hindawi. She focuses on ensuring that reviewers have the best experience possible and looks at developing ways that Hindawi can ensure the best results for all who are involved in the peer review process.
From a publisher viewpoint, what do you think are the major challenges around inclusion and diversity in scholarly publishing?
One major difficulty when improving diversity in scholarly publishing is the tendency to reach out to those in a similar position or similar background as ourselves – be that gender, location, affiliation, or career level. It becomes difficult to diversify, say, an editorial board for example, if the chief editor tends to only contact those from their own geographic region.
We’re very conscious at Hindawi of this possible blockade to inclusion and we take an active role in editor recruitment to ensure that our boards are as diverse as possible. This, of course, has a knock on effect; a more diverse board results in connections to a more diverse range of authors, which in turn ensures that the work published is far more inclusive.
Connected to this issue, is that of representation. It is so important for each person to be able to see themselves reflected in the community in order to feel welcome to join and engage in the conversations that community is having. I have enjoyed reading our recent “Women making science more open” (https://www.hindawi.com/post/women-making-science-more-open-veronique-ki...) for this very reason! It is far easier to decide to travel down a path if you know someone like you has already tracked it, and we must be conscious of this as publishers.
I agree with you that being aware of and taking actions toward mitigating the problems around representation and diversity is important. In extension to my previous question, how can publishers enable journal editors in consciously engaging with peer reviewers from diverse backgrounds? Do you think diversifying the peer reviewer pool can help mitigate the challenge editors face of appointing peer reviewers?
As I mentioned, one issue of inclusion in scholarly publishing is that people are often more likely to choose to work with others from a similar background. Of course, this isn’t just a publishing issue, but one across the board in many industries. However, by ensuring that we as publishers provide tools which offer better avenues for editors to reach a greater range of reviewers, we can facilitate reviewer diversity; at Hindawi are at work on a new reviewer database to further support this.
In addition to this, it is vital that we as the publisher make sure we are reaching out to new and diverse groups of possible reviewers to ensure that they can be put in touch with our editors and engaged in the peer review process of our journals. For example, at Hindawi, we want to focus on supporting early career researchers of all kinds, and one way we aim to do so is by developing reviewer training and support throughout the process of beginning a reviewer career.
In making sure that our reviewer pool is diverse, we can also mitigate an issue for editors - that of struggling to find reviewers. Diversifying the pool will provide a greater number of reviewers overall and therefore increase the number of reviewers an editor can select from. This will likely result in shorter review times, and therefore quicker publication times.
As well as this, it also ensures that the review process itself does not become an echo chamber of similar ideas. A more diverse reviewer pool will result in more interesting questions and reflections upon the work submitted, and therefore contribute to improving science.
The dissemination and accessibility of research can play a vital role in fostering inclusion in scholarly publishing. What do you think are the most common hindrances to making research accessible?
Firstly, is it open? One of my favourite parts of working for Hindawi is that we know that a vital step in making research accessible is making sure it’s open. It’s why we’re so proud of our gold open access journal portfolio. Paywalls can easily deny access to entire groups of scientists which is unhelpful to increasing inclusion and, in turn, unhelpful to scientific progression. Our participation in the Research4Life scheme, which offers free or discounted publication to authors from low-and middle-income countries, makes open access a very real and tangible possibility for researchers who may not have the funding to support research publication.
It enables researchers to publish their research in open access journals that they would not ordinarily be able to afford to do and thus increases the visibility of their work. A closed scholarly infrastructure can also hinder making research accessible. That’s why we’re part of the founding team for Initiative for Open Abstracts (I4OA). Science really does work best when it’s open!
Another common limitation to the accessibility of research is the fact that it can often feel unwelcoming to those who are not already interested. Use of specific jargon, or echo chamber thinking, can accidentally deny access to new groups of readers and researchers. We’ve all found ourselves stuck in a conversation with someone who refuses to use layperson terms, and it can feel really unfriendly! We offer author services via partnerships – including – and have created a to help our researchers make sure that they can make their work understood by the broader scientific community.
Finally, standing still. It’s important that as the world around us changes in how it shares information, so do we as scholarly publishers. The past few years have shown us that we are capable of adjusting to almost entirely new ways of working, and sharing knowledge. We must all continue to “lean in” to these changes – a publisher choosing to support an online conference or webinar can ensure that research can reach communities that otherwise may not have been able to travel to join in the conversation.
For the same reason, our journal development team at Hindawi are always monitoring the ways that researchers are discovering and accessing content and ensuring that we share our articles across these channels and encourage authors, editors, reviewers and readers to do the same! One tweet can disseminate research more quickly and with greater ease of access than was ever possible in the past. Ignoring these changes in information sharing will only be a hindrance to accessibility.
Recently, Hindawi introduced a new policy (https://www.hindawi.com/post/introducing-new-name-change-policy-support-...) that would allow authors to change their name following publication without the requirement of documentation, a corrigendum notice, and informing any other authors. That’s a big step toward inclusion! What other initiatives do you plan to take to keep the momentum going?
Thank you, it’s a policy change we’re very proud of! We’re really excited to continue engaging in initiatives that promote diversity in scholarly research as a whole. We know that there is still a long way to go in ensuring that the scholarly ecosystem is more diverse and inclusive, but we are making sure we are supporting that progress whenever and wherever we can. We have recently reviewed the role of editors, and adapted our contractual agreements to reflect our combined responsibility to ensure editorial boards meet the expected standards of diversity, equity and inclusion. We believe that promoting active stakeholder participation is essential for us to be moving forwards, and we know these are just some of the first steps.
Thank you Charlie for talking to me!
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