Issue 24, 2014-04-16

Editorial Introduction: Seeking a Diversity of Voices

Making the Journal the best that it can be.

By Ron Peterson

The Editorial Committee of the Code4Lib Journal is always looking for ways to improve the content of the journal and ensure that it is meeting the needs of our readers. New additions to the Committee have brought new ideas about how we can make the journal the best that it can be. When several members of the Committee met in March 2014 during the Code4Lib Conference in Raleigh, we had the opportunity to discuss these issues in person.

Inspired by the presentations on data visualization, the Editorial Committee talked about how we can use the data that we have to help chart the future directions of the Journal. We have Google Analytics data and our own administrative data that we use to track proposals from submission to publication that we could evaluate, but we can go further. We could mine the mailing list or use other kinds of alt-metrics in order to learn more about the impact of the journal, where we are succeeding and where we could do better. Some of the questions we would like to explore include the following:

  • What are some of our most popular articles? Topics?
  • What is our rejection rate? How does our rate compare with other journals in the field?
  • Is there a “season” for proposals? Are there regular cycles with peak times for the submission of proposals?
  • How many repeat authors have we had? Repeat submitters?

One question that I wanted to explore was “how inclusive of different populations have we been?”

Diversity of Voices

A theme that emerged at the Code4Lib Conference was the rate of participation for women in technology. Valerie Aurora, the closing keynote speaker, advocated for a conscious improvement of the diversity of voices that we are listening to.[1] With that in mind, I did a preliminary analysis of gender participation in the Code4Lib Journal.

We don’t formally track demographic data for the authors who submit proposals, so those numbers involve a certain amount of guessing about the gender of the author. Also, without that demographic data it is difficult to dig deeper to look at other characteristics.

Diversity of Editorial Committee Members

The best data we have is on the Editorial Committee itself. Of the twenty-nine people who have ever served on the Committee, only eight of them are women. Twenty-one of the editors are men. Here is a graph showing the makeup of the Committee over time:

While we have been mindful of recruiting women to join the Editorial Committee, this graph demonstrates we haven’t been trying hard enough.

Diversity of Authors

Out of the 201 articles that the Journal has published, 95 articles had female authors and 160 articles with male authors – in some cases the article may have had both male and female authors. In all, the articles published by the Journal have been written by 247 male and 142 female authors.

Women make up less than 40% of the authors published in the Journal. We should be able to find more female authors in a profession that is 80% women.[2] For further analysis, I broke the data down by issue. Below is a bar graph showing the break down of author gender by issue. The most striking thing about the graph to me is that many of the issues have almost no participation from female authors.


Lastly, I looked at the 182 articles that were not accepted for publication. Participation by female authors remains low but is consistent with the number of female authors of published articles.

I think this data raises some interesting questions. Does the Journal create barriers to publication for women? How do these numbers compare to overall population of people involved in Code4Lib?[3] Are there things we could do to increase participation in the Journal? Why are the numbers of women on the Editorial Committee so low? More importantly, how can we correct that?

If you have thoughts about improving the diversity of voices that are represented in the Code4Lib Journal, I invite you to post them to the Journal’s open discussion list (c4lj-discuss@googlegroups.com). Or if you would be interested in helping us make better use of the data we have, drop us a line at journal@code4lib.org.

I hope you enjoy issue 24!

References

[1] Aurora, Valerie and Tennant, Roy. (2014). Closing Keynote – Interview with Valerie Aurora. 2014 Code4Lib Conference. Raleigh, NC. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5lFjpERsy0&feature=share

[2] Office of Research and Statistics, American Library Association. (2012) Diversity Counts. http://www.ala.org/offices/diversity/diversitycounts/divcounts

[3] Metz, Rosalyn. (2012). Code4Lib Gender Survey Summary. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Hbofh63-5F9MWEk8y8C83heOkNodttASWF5juqGLQ1E/edit

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