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03.29.2023 | SSP News & Releases

LP Spotlight | Equitable representation in awards and recognition in scholarly publishing: Current challenges and the path ahead

A warm welcome to the newly appointed North American Editor of Learned Publishing, Michelle Urberg! Michelle is currently an independent consultant specializing in all things metadata and the Client Success Manager for LibLynx, and brings expertise to one of the leading journals in scholarly publishing. She will be working in collaboration with Laura Dormer, who became the Editor-in-Chief in November 2022.

Equitable representation in awards and recognition in scholarly publishing: Current challenges and the path ahead

Rebecca Kirk, Susan J. Harris, Chhavi Chauhan | Learned Publishing | Volume 36, Issue 1

Key points:
  • Awards are an important mechanism of recognition that can signify inclusivity or exclusivity and impact careers.
  • More women were selected by publishing organizations for awards overall yet appeared underrecognized in a predominantly women-employed workforce.
  • Award programs showed a preference for US-based awardees despite the global representation of individuals’ localities.
  • To build equity in awards programs, organizations are encouraged to appoint diverse committees, promote transparency and publicize awards in historically excluded communities.

Author Rebecca Kirk, Publisher, Portfolio Development at Public Library of Science (PLOS), shared how she and her colleagues, Susan J. Harris, Senior Director, APA Journals, and Chhavi Chauhan, American Society for Investigative Pathology, came to focus on this topic.

What drew you to study the challenges regarding equitable representation in awards in scholarly publishing?

The contributors of this article are all engaged members of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Committee of the Society of Scholarly Publishing (SSP) who have been actively vocal about equity in scholarly communications for past several years. Individually, we all were inspired by the shocking findings of Workplace Equity (WE) Survey that reported striking disparities in recruitment and promotion of professional talent in this industry. We had individually noticed several gaps in the processes surrounding imparting of awards and recognition in this domain and as we deliberated further, in collaboration with others on the committee and with Michelle English from ASCE, we decided to explore these disparities in a methodical manner by analyzing publicly available data from a few key organizations in this field. 

Did your investigations surprise you in any way? 

Surprise might not be the right word, but it was really encouraging to see the level of involvement and positive feedback from each one of the organizations that we approached for this research.  Individuals as well as leadership at these organizations were really open to a discussion to understand the data and trends better, to focus on the equity of their awards going forward, and to closely review the data we obtained. A great example of an immediate positive outcome from our recommendations is the recent inclusion of an option to self-nominate for the first time for the award category of the Emerging Leader Award offered by SSP, a participating society.

Is there any part of the study that you think is a particularly important or interesting finding? 

Interestingly, the analyzed awards are not reflective of our community as a whole, which is itself not very diverse overall. We expect that if we had the demographic data, this trend would be even more striking for historically under-represented communities. However, there are already positive signs that change is underway and it’s incredible that at least one of the participating organizations has already embraced our recommendations to make their awards and recognition process more equitable.

Read more from this issue of Learned Publishing!

Access to Learned Publishing is a benefit of membership in SSP. Log in to the Member Center to access the full-text online now!

News contribution by SSP member, Clarice Martel. Clarice is a Project Manager for Cabells.

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