The Knowledge Futures (KF) has positioned itself at the intersection of tech and academia; two fields that require serious improvement when it comes to diversity and inclusion. While racial and gender equality sit at the forefront of our mind, existing structures for academic success lead to additional marginalized voices in humanities departments, small research universities, and other non-R1, non-STEM institutions and groups. We’ve set the groundwork for several initial avenues for including these voices. One avenue where this took shape is through our pro bono work policy and collaborations with the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Publishing (C4DISC). Our pro bono work initiative, which allocates up to 10% of staff time, began in 2021 in hopes of addressing inequalities within the knowledge ecosystem.
Following the success of the Anti Racism Toolkit for Organizations, C4DISC and KFG recently released collections aiming to deepen connections and help the scholarly publishing world improve responses to DEI challenges.
The Anti Racism Toolkit for Black, Indigenous and People of Color in Scholarly Publishing is a living document and the start of an ongoing conversation, as well as a resource for current and future generations of BIPOC workers in the academic publishing industry. The Guidelines on Inclusive Language and Images in Scholarly Communication is a global tool, educational resource, and living archive to help all authors, editors, and reviewers recognize the use of language and images that are inclusive and culturally sensitive.
This new toolkit is the result of the work of a group of BIPOC-identifying publishing professionals of all levels from across the United States and Canada. The objective is to be a living document and the start of an ongoing conversation, as well as a resource for current and future generations of BIPOC workers in the academic publishing industry.
“Our goal with this toolkit is not to paint our perspectives broadly, but rather, to draw from personal experiences so that other BIPOC might be seen, to provide practical advice, and to share resources that we hope will help BIPOC staff not just survive but thrive in academic publishing.”
The toolkit is structured in three main parts, includes valuable references and a further guidance and support section. The first part is about the barriers BIPOC have to overcome when entering the publishing Industry, like the inaccessibility of training resources and the lack of or limited BIPOC representation and mentors. The second part is about the importance of creating community with and across groups of BIPOC and building an anti-racist culture. The third part is about the publishing industry, and aspects like networking, building mentorship and sponsorship relations. The document also contains a series of resources on networking and career development and gives practical advice on how to improve inclusivity in day-to-day work. Finally, the toolkit supports authenticity at work, helps us identify parameters of well-being, and gives valuable tips for managing the side effects of code switching.
“In the larger scope of an increasingly unequal world where racialized people suffer in many different ways, this particular toolkit, the Antiracism Toolkit for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), is a small yet specific contribution, and one that we hope will be meaningful and useful to BIPOC-identifying individuals navigating an industry that can be wonderful, but also hostile.”
This toolkit is for BIPOC people and for non-BIPOC people living in a diverse world, all of us who are committed to making the scholarly publishing industry more just and welcoming.
This new toolkit is meant to be a global tool, educational resource, and living archive to help all authors, editors, and reviewers recognize the use of language and images that are inclusive and culturally sensitive. The Guidelines can be used at various steps of the scholarly publishing process, such as manuscript writing, peer review, and presentation of published output. The working group, reflecting a diverse body of international volunteers, came together in response to the growing need for more comprehensive and global guidelines for inclusive language and images. The Guidelines are designed to continually evolve, relying on the entire scholarly publishing community to help grow and improve them over time by suggesting new references, recommendations, and resources. Coming together in this project, the authors of the Inclusive Language and Image Guidelines have created a reliable standard for scholarly communicators. They provide well-sourced recommendations that can guide best practices in moments of tough decision, and shape what inclusive representation looks like in a changing world.
The authors of the Guide state that its aim is to help people in the scholarly ecosystem to think about the foundations of their own thinking:
“Researchers and authors can examine their own biases and determine how these might affect their work. So too can other stakeholders involved in the publishing process, whether they are colleagues, editors, or [peer reviewers …]. By taking the time to examine the potential biases existing in their own work as well as the work of others, researchers and authors can help to make the world of scholarly communication more inclusive.”
In order to have many points of entry, the primary section of the toolkit is organized into lists. This nod to the resource as a work of reference has practical repercussions, which may even reflect its ideological slant: to avoid falling into the trappings of default or biased thinking, the information might be ordered randomly or in alphabetical order. Once a term is named, the guides define the term, suggest ways of avoiding discriminatory language, offers ways to reframe the term, points to some concrete examples in research, and provides references. The entries provide a useful way for participants in the knowledge creation and dissemination ecosystem to learn, change, use, and help the communities they serve.
“Scholarly communication is often defined as ‘the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use’ (ACRL Scholarly Communications Committee, 2018). It is meant to serve the public and advance the pursuit of knowledge. It is important that this is done in a way that includes the whole—not just of scholarly communication itself, but of society.”
Knowledge Futures is a 501c3 nonprofit building open source technology and collaborating with communities of practice to design and build the public digital infrastructure needed for effective, equitable, and sustainable knowledge futures.
The Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communication (C4DISC) works with organizations and individuals to build equity, inclusion, diversity, and accessibility in scholarly communications. The vision of C4DISC is a socially just community that welcomes, values, and celebrates all who seek to contribute to scholarly communications.
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Toolkits for Equity in Scholarly Publishing