Issue 44, 2019-05-06

Editorial: New Editors, Diversity, and Representation

Welcoming new editors, new surveys, and thinking about diversity at code4Lib Journal.

by Junior Tidal, issue 44 coordinating editor

code4Lib Journal welcomes two new editors to the editorial committee. Brighid Gonzalez(Our Lady of the Lake University) and Carolyn Moritz(Vassar College Libraries). The process of reviewing and discussing articles, managing the journal, and contacting authors is an arduous one and we welcome their hard work and expertise. There are also plans to have another call for code4Lib Journal editors, specifically looking for editors outside of the United States, which will be posted soon.

Coincidentally, the last time we had new editors come aboard, Sara Amato wrote a follow-up to Ron Peterson’s examination of diversity in the journal. This seems like an appropriate time to look at the makeup of authors and editors. Looking at the editorial committee, members have self-reported that 63% identify as white. Gender balance remains unchanged with 40% of editors identifying as female and 60% identify as male. Based on collected data, the majority of editors hail from academic institutions, with public libraries, other research institutions, and vendors in the minority.

When authors contribute to the journal, they are given an optional demographic survey that collects information including ethnicity/cultural identity, gender, location (country), disability, and institution type. The data collected also comes from contributors whose articles may not necessarily be published due to rejection or lack of editors.

Looking at this data, not much has changed since Sara explored it 2 years ago. Data that has been disclosed indicates that a majority of authors (52%) identify as white (see figure 1), with the second most largest group that responded to the survey indicated “no response.” Contributors’ self-reported gender identities show that this has slightly changed. The majority of contributors identify as male (see figure 2), yet 2% of respondents have identified as neither, non-binary, or other. On the survey, this particular field is an open text field, with suggestions listed as “Female, Male, Neither, Other, Both.” Data also shows that authors mostly come from the United States (69%), are from academic institutions (70%), and do not report or have no disabilities (98% of respondents).


Figure 1. Self-reported Ethnicities/cultural Identities of code4Lib Journal Contributors.


Figure 2. Self-reported Gender Identities of code4Lib Journal Contributors. Contributors.

Now that we have this data, what can we do with it? While the editorial committee is discussing this, we were also looking into what the purpose is to gather demographics from contributors in the first place. I think collecting this data will illuminate faults in our lack of inclusiveness, and may also reveal how the committee can support a wider range of diverse voices in code4Lib Journal.

To support this, the editorial board is revamping the demographics surveys for both authors and editors. Our initial surveys had flaws in need of repairing. For instance, it has been suggested that the gender identification field language has been updated from changing the language from “Other” to “Non-binary, Third-Gender, Self-describe, Prefer not to say.“ The location field initially only had the options of either “United States” or “Other,” paired with an open text-field. This will be altered away from an Americentric line of questioning to a drop-down list of countries. We have changed the question of respondents’ self-reported disability to a yes or no answer. There will also be other changes to the survey which will be used after the publication of issue 45. Revisiting the survey at periodic points will be valuable, so that other points of data can be amended to better examine our community.

code4Lib Journal has a wealth of invaluable knowledge to the information professional community, and I hope that it reflects the inclusive values of that community. As a librarian of color, I feel that representation is not just important, it is essential. The work that information professionals conduct, especially those working within technical and technological services, can at times be invisible. This labor may be invisible, but those behind the scenes do not have to be.

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ISSN 1940-5758