There is ample evidence that diverse organizations are more successful; that including people with a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds at all levels — including senior leadership — improves an organization’s financial results. And I would argue that there’s also a moral imperative to be inclusive; that social equity is something we should all be striving for, in scholarly communications every bit as much as in society more broadly.

Within our community, many of us are already committed to increasing diversity and inclusion at a personal level. Some companies have publicly committed to doing so at the organizational level. Now, 10 of our industry organizations have joined forces to support these efforts, through the formation of the Coalition for Diversity & Inclusion in Scholarly Communications (C4DISC). Last week, the group issued a Joint Statement of Principles, signed by nine of the organizations, with the goal of promoting “involvement, innovation, and expanded access to leadership opportunities that maximize engagement across identity groups and professional levels.” The signatories state that: “Collectively we will provide leadership and commit time and resources to accomplish this objective while serving as a model to our members, both individuals and organizations, engaged in D+I endeavors.”

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Launching C4DISC and the Statement of Principles is just the first step, of course. But it’s an important one. And, having been personally involved in the conversations leading up to both the formation of C4DISC and the development of these principles, I can attest to the level of hard work, collaboration, and above all, trust, that was needed to get us to this point. We will be needing much more of all these in order to actually effect change!

The Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) has played a leadership role in establishing C4DISC. We have always been a welcoming and inclusive organization, however, in recent years the Board has recognized that this alone isn’t enough. To quote the Statement of Principles again, we now acknowledge that: “To ensure sustainability and growth, our industry must commit to long-term efforts to curb the deeply ingrained patterns of exclusion and inequities in our practices, policies, and frameworks.” The Board (of which I am a member) is deeply committed to ensuring that the scholarly publishing community — and scholarly communications more broadly — becomes more diverse and inclusive in every way.

We have already begun taking our own small steps in this direction, as noted by our Executive DIrector, Melanie Dolechek in this recent interview for The Scholarly Kitchen. Melanie herself has been instrumental in the launch of C4DISC, working tirelessly to corral the organizations involved and helping us get to agreement on the Statement of Principles, as well as setting up the C4DISC website.

C4DISC’s next area of focus is a research project to establish baseline data on the current state of diversity and inclusion in scholarly communications, which we will then revisit periodically in order to measure our progress. More on this in a future post!

We hope to expand C4DISC membership to include other industry organizations in future. In the meantime, we warmly invite all scholarly communications organizations — individual and cross-industry — to show their commitment to effecting change in our community by adopting the Joint Statement of Principles, joining these C4DISC founding members:

Please note that the C4DISC website will be updated weekly, and we will issue periodic press releases listing new signatories.

Alice Meadows

Alice Meadows

I am a Co-Founder of the MoreBrains Cooperative, a scholarly communications consultancy with a focus on open research and research infrastructure. I have many years experience of both scholarly publishing (including at Blackwell Publishing and Wiley) and research infrastructure (at ORCID and, most recently, NISO, where I was Director of Community Engagement). I’m actively involved in the information community, and served as SSP President in 2021-22. I was honored to receive the SSP Distinguished Service Award in 2018, the ALPSP Award for Contribution to Scholarly Publishing in 2016, and the ISMTE Recognition Award in 2013. I’m passionate about improving trust in scholarly communications, and about addressing inequities in our community (and beyond!). Note: The opinions expressed here are my own


3 Thoughts on "Announcing the Coalition for Diversity & Inclusion in Scholarly Communications"

As one who witnessed (and supported) past efforts toward these goals (e.g., two of our employees at Penn State Press, both African American women, played key roles on the AAUP Diversity Committee in the 1990s), I am curious to know what makes this new initiative different from earlier ones and why there may be reason to expect better results.

You’re right that there have been previous efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in scholarly publishing Sandy. Individual organizations – including AUP and SSP – have made some progress. But our hope and belief is that this formal collaboration between industry organizations will enable us to make more progress more quickly. That’s what makes C4DISC different! And as mentioned we hope to expand “official” membership of the group in future including reaching beyond the usual suspects to organizations in other parts of the world.

Organizational change and change management has been the subject of research (and publications) for decades. There is lot to learn there about models and best practices. On an individual/human level, one can look at every day’s life: when do you make a change (e.g. stop smoking or step out of a relation)? Only if you have resistance to the existing situation.

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