It’s taken a while — we first started talking about it back in 2017! — but I’m delighted to announce that today marks the formal launch of C4DISC (Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications). In some ways, launching a new organization during a year that has seen widespread economic fallout from a global pandemic, may not seem like the smartest thing to do. But this year has also seen a long-overdue surge in support for diversity, equity, and inclusion. After centuries of systemic racism against Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), the Black Lives Matter movement is finally being taken more seriously. But while there is cause for cautious hope that change may be on the way, it is not here yet. And the pandemic has also highlighted other inequities: between rich and poor; men and women; global north and global south; and more. Our community is not exempt from any of these issues; in that context, launching an organization that will enable us to meaningfully engage in the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work that the scholarly publishing/communications ecosystem needs more than ever, is a necessity, not a nice-to-have.
C4DISC grew out of an awareness among a number of industry bodies, including the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP — which I’m happy to say has played a leading role in the initiative from the start), that there is a critical lack of diverse voices in the world of scholarly communications and a need to take collective action to improve this situation. Since coming together at SSP’s annual conference in May 2017, the founding members have been meeting regularly to plan and discuss a way forward. Over the past year, with the generous support of Educopia, we engaged in a formal process to work through the complexities surrounding governance for the organization. Our overall goal is to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in scholarly communications while valuing differences, welcoming diverse perspectives, learning from different communities, making space for marginalized voices, eliminating barriers, and serving as allies to our BIPOC colleagues. We have settled on a membership model focused on membership organizations and consortial groups as being the best way for C4DISC to have the broadest possible impact, with the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) and SSP serving as joint host organizations. Finally, we worked together to establish a joint statement of principles and mission, vision, and values.
The nine founding members of C4DISC are proud of what we have achieved so far in creating a vision for future progress. And we’re now ready to welcome other organizations to join us! If you’re a consortial group, such as a society or association whose membership is composed of individuals, companies, or organizations, and whose mission and membership are related to scholarly communications, then please consider becoming a C4DISC member. We have established a fee structure for this year (July 2020 – June 2021) and we encourage those who can to pay dues that are in line with the annual revenue tiers. However, if your organization cannot afford to do so this year because of financial challenges resulting from the global pandemic, we are happy for you to pay what you can for 2020.
If your organization is involved in scholarly communications, but you don’t fall into the member category — examples include publishers, libraries, industry suppliers — then we invite you to participate as a partner: Bronze ($1000), Silver (up to $2500), and Gold (up to $5000).
Funds will be used to support activities focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in scholarly communications so that we can begin to find concrete solutions to these thorny and persistent problems in our community. We also plan to hire a part-time program assistant who will provide administrative support for C4DISC’s work and activities.
And, of course, C4DISC also gladly and gratefully accepts donations from individuals and organizations, no matter how small.
Even if you’re unable to join C4DISC, your organization can still support C4DISC by joining the more than 40 organizations that have adopted our Joint Statement of Principles. Simply complete this form on our website.
Another way to get involved is to join one of the working groups that we are setting up, to engage in concrete actions that will improve DEI in scholarly communications. One of the first of these will carry on the work started at the Triangle Scholarly Communications Institute in 2019, on the “Toolkits for Equity: Transforming Scholarly Publishing Communities.” This initiative was conceived by project leaders Niccole Leilanionapae‘aina Coggins, University of Virginia Press; Gisela Fosado, Duke University Press; Jocelyn Dawson, Duke University Press; and Melanie Dolechek, Society for Scholarly Publishing. Their first toolkit, the Antiracism Toolkit for Allies is available on the C4DISC website. It was featured in The Scholarly Kitchen earlier this year. and is openly licensed for easy access and reuse. We are now looking for volunteers to serve as project leads and members of the working groups who will develop the next two toolkits: the Antiracism Toolkit for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; and the Antiracism Toolkit for Organizations. We also hope to establish a working group on communications and outreach. If you are interested in leading or participating in any of these working groups, or if you have suggestions for other areas of focus that you’d like to volunteer for, please complete a Working Group Application Form.
I know I speak for all the C4DISC founding members when I say how very much we hope that you’ll join us. While many of us are doing what we can as individuals and as organizations to help address the many inequalities in our community, there’s so much more we can do if we work together.