Tuesday 26 July 2022

Spotlight on Joint commitment for action on inclusion and diversity in publishing

Shortlisted for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing 2022

Joint Commitment graphic, participating organisations

This year, the judges have selected a shortlist of seven for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing.  Each finalist will be invited to showcase their innovation to industry peers on 14 September on the opening day of the ALPSP 2022 Conference in Manchester. The winners will be announced at the Awards Dinner on Thursday 15 September.

In this series, we learn more about each of the finalists.

Tell us about your organisation

The Joint commitment for action on inclusion and diversity in publishing is a group of over 50 organisations, brought together by the Royal Society of Chemistry.  We comprise publishers from across the spectrum: commercial, not-for-profit, open access publishers, society publishers, those covering specialist subject areas and those covering a broad range of disciplines. Publishers of all shapes and sizes have joined, and we all have a common goal of seeking to improve inclusion and diversity in the scholarly publishing ecosystem. The Royal Society of Chemistry, as a society publisher and an organisation that has completed a range of credible work within the area of inclusion and diversity already, is trusted by publishers across the sector to lead this change.

 What is the project/product that you submitted for the Awards?

The Joint commitment for action on inclusion and diversity in publishing is all about collective action to make things better together. We launched in June of 2020 following a workshop in which the Royal Society of Chemistry shared our Framework for action in scientific publishing – a practical guide to reducing bias in our own publishing activities – in a workshop with other publishers.

In that workshop, we collectively agreed to pool our resources to take decisive action. We made the following commitments:

1. Understand our research community

We will work to ensure that diversity data can be self-reported by members of our community, using appropriately worded questions, and in a compliant and secure way through our peer review systems.

2. Reflect the diversity of our community

We will use anonymised and aggregated data to uncover subject-specific diversity baselines, and set minimum targets to achieve appropriate and inclusive representation of our authors, reviewers and editorial decision-makers.

3. Share success to achieve impact

We will share and develop new and innovative resources, and we will transparently share policies, language and standards, to move inclusion and diversity in publishing forward together.

4. Set minimum standards on which to build

We will scrutinise our own publishing processes and take action to achieve a minimum standard for inclusion in publishing, based initially on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Framework for action in scientific publishing. We will engage all relevant stakeholders to improve outcomes on inclusion and diversity, at all stages of the publishing process. 

Our milestone achievements are:

  • June 2020: Workshop leads to joint commitment, signed by an initial 12 publishers
  • Feb 2021: Schema established for collection of gender data; work on developing schema for data collection methods for race and ethnicity is ongoing
  • March 2021: Post-publication author name changes good practices devised, shared with Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and National Information Standards Organization (NISO). Members of the joint commitment have since facilitated name changes for hundreds of authors
  • May 2021: 

    • Workshop held to discuss making progress on tackling harmful historical content. Outputs shared with COPE working group
    • Facilitated collaborative conversations between Elsevier (owners of Editorial Manager) and ScholarOne about how to best incorporate diversity data collection into submission and peer review systems
  • June 2021: Number of publishers joined commitment reaches 40
  • November 2021: Minimum standards on which to build launched
  • January 2022: Number of publishers joined commitment reaches 50 
  • April 2022: Standardised questions for self-reported diversity data collection launched

Tell us a little about how it works and the team behind it

The group serves as a knowledge sharing network, supporting publishers to accelerate their progress on inclusion and diversity. We have a working group comprising at least one representative from each signatory organisation, with sub-groups taking forward specific areas of action under each of the four commitments. These groups meet and share information frequently, and whole-group meetings are held three times a year to review progress, agree actions and set direction.  The Royal Society of Chemistry initiated and continues to facilitate the Joint commitment, contributing staff time and expertise from its Publishing, Inclusion and Diversity and Communications teams, and providing secretariat to the working group.  All signatory organisations contribute their staff time and expertise through attendance at working group meetings and voluntary participation in the subgroups and associated activities, at a level commensurate with the organisation’s size and available resources. Sub groups are (or have been) chaired by representatives from BMJ, eLife, Elsevier, IOP Publishing, the Royal Society, and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

In what ways do you think it demonstrates innovation?

A major achievement of the initiative has been having publishers put aside competitive differences, to really drive change across scholarly publishing as a whole.  Our minimum standards, for the first time, set out clearly what publishers should do to lay a foundation that can be built upon to improve inclusion and diversity in their publishing activities. We believe the minimum standards will enable senior leaders in publishing, editorial decision makers and editorial boards to evaluate their performance and progress on inclusion and diversity within their organisations and publications. The minimum standards will also enable publishers, editorial decision makers, authors, and reviewers to identify and take achievable, specific actions to improve inclusion and diversity in scholarly publishing.  Furthermore, our standardised questions for collecting race and ethnicity data are the first globally applicable demographic questions of this type, which will support a standardised data-driven approach between publishers to inform our goals around diversity, inclusion and equity in scholarly communications and research more broadly.

What are your plans for the future?

The initiative, while having achieved a great deal, is still very much ongoing. Near-term priorities include the implementation of the recently launched gender identity and race and ethnicity questions, by encouraging uptake from publishers and supporting communication to researchers, and working with bodies such as COPE and NISO to support standardisation. Longer term, once collection of gender identity and race and ethnicity data is under way with many publishers, the group will work on supporting publishers to define baselines, and consider setting targets for more inclusive representation, as well as seeking to collect other types of diversity data as appropriate (e.g. disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status).

Sub groups are also working on providing support for publishers in implementing the minimum standards, facilitating conversations on issues such as sex and gender reporting and developing guidance on including I&D within editor, author and reviewer codes of conduct.

Read more about the Joint commitment for action on inclusion and diversity in publishing.

Visit the ALPSP Annual Conference 2022 Website for more details and to book your place. 

image Nicola Nugent

About the author: 

Dr Nicola Nugent is Publishing Manager, Quality & Ethics at the Royal Society of Chemistry, where she is the strategic lead for quality and impact across journals and books.

She has responsibility for the journal's peer-review strategy, as well as publishing ethics, and inclusion & diversity in publishing. She leads the Publication Ethics Team at the Royal Society of Chemistry, which handles a range of publication ethics and research integrity issues, including paper mill investigations.

Nicola has over 15 years’ experience in STM publishing in a variety of operational and strategic roles, with an editorial focus. She has a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Bristol, UK.

Friday 22 July 2022

Effective Social Media for Scholarly Publishers

Social media is no longer a shiny new tool; if executed well, it can be a powerful channel within an integrated marketing strategy that supports an organisation in meeting its objectives.

Earlier this month, I delivered social media training on behalf of ALPSP in their Effective Social Media for Scholarly Publishers course. After 6 hours of online training, my head is still happily swimming with all things Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, strategy, and metrics. There were also fantastic discussions on crisis management in scholarly publishing, smart goals, and critiquing! 

If you couldn’t attend the course, I’ve got you covered! Here are key takeaways that will help to shine a spotlight on your current social efforts and, if needed, some tips to shake up your strategy: 


According to a 2022 HubSpot survey, the biggest social media challenge that brands are facing is determining which platforms to place focus on. 

Tip: If you are at the beginning of your social journey, as a starting point research where your audience is. For example, check out relevant # engagement, undertake a competitor analysis and see what level of traction their posts are getting, and look at reach capabilities using paid social.

Paid social: Securing organic reach is increasingly challenging, especially on Facebook. Paid social is relatively inexpensive and allows you to apply an experimental approach to see which platforms best meet your objectives.

Tip: Paid social best supports the top of the marketing funnel (awareness) but retargeting via paid social can be a great support in the consideration and conversion part of the journey.  

Community: Think of your social media followers as your community and not your audience. Audience implies a hierarchy and a one-way conversation.

Tip: Be a good member of your community; understand your role in the community, and to do that successfully…you need to listen!

Strategy: Without a sound social strategy in place, you will face all sorts of avoidable hurdles, for example: securing buy in from budget holders; spreading yourself too thinly, which can result in burnout and lost productivity; not having focus; and the inability to measure success.

Tip: Set SMART goals; these should fall out of your broader company and marketing objectives and should not sit in their own bubble! Don’t fall into the trap of starting with tactics; start at the top and understand the business mission and objectives so the social goals underpin company goals.

Trends to watch out for in 2022:

Tik Tok: Excluding messaging platforms, Tik Tok is now the 4th most popular social channel after Instagram. However, most businesses are reluctant to invest, with only 38% planning to increase investment in 2022 …is your organisation the rising star of scholarly comms on TikTok, and ready to take centre stage?!

Short form videos are now more accessible to brands thanks to the lower production costs, and the authenticity and lower production nature of video/stories/reels is part of the appeal to users. It’s listed as the most engaging social content type, so if you’ve not yet integrated short-form videos into your social strategy, what are you waiting for? 


Including social metrics to measure ROI not only holds you accountable but also showcases the impact and bottom-line results your social strategy generates. A Sprout social report highlights how only on 15% of marketers are using social data to measure ROI, and just 10% use the data to inform business decisions.

Tip: Watch out for vanity metrics! Think about followers...it’s meaningless having a huge follower base if they are not your target community. Make sure you choose meaningful metrics to track and if something isn’t working…stop doing it! Where possible, go beyond native metrics on the individual platforms and link it up with Google Analytics; this can really help to link social activity to hard metrics that matter most to the organisation–such as usage, submissions, and sales.

Oh, and one last point on metrics…you can’t measure success without a strong strategy in place (see above point on strategy)!


There is a vast selection of tools to support you on your social media journey, ranging from scheduling, to listening, and analytics. Your choices will likely come down to the scale of your social presence, and as is so often the case, budget.

Tip: If undecided between platforms, sign up for free trials and compare tools to see which fits your needs. Don’t underestimate the power of the good old fashioned manual method, that can be customised to meet your requirements.

Booking for next year’s ALPSP course, Effective Social Media for Scholarly Publishers, will open later this year.  Contact Melissa Marshall for further information about this or other training courses.

About the author

Kelly Henwood, Senior Manager, TBI Communications

Kelly’s experience includes developing brand strategies, brand assets, and improving brand experience and engagement across multiple channels including digital, TV, film, and licensing.  At Oxford University Press Kelly led the Humanities, Social Science and Law Journals Product Marketing team driving results with diverse marketing strategies. She has also managed partner relationships and the marketing program for several leading society journals.  In previous experience, Kelly managed international brand and licensing programs for both the commercial arm of the University of Oxford and a TV production company.

Kelly is CIM qualified with a Postgraduate Diploma.

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