SCOOP: Taking Action Toward Equity and Inclusion – Open Access Week 2020/
October 06, 2020
In February 2020, the Atla Board of Directors adopted new and revised Organizational Ends for the Association. The Association renewed its commitment to ensuring the availability and discoverability of quality open access resources, and declared that librarians and information providers should grow in their competency in diversity, inclusion, equity, and antiracism. These Organizational Ends promote this year’s Open Access Week theme on Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion. This year’s theme calls upon the global community to reexamine the historic structures and processes for creating and sharing information and to address systemic biases and inequities. The global scholarly publishing community and Atla have begun to take steps to conduct this reexamination and to develop processes and policies to ensure a more equitable scholarly communication landscape.
Recent Global Developments
Earlier this year, a call for action was issued to increase bibliodiversity in scholarly communication. In this call, the authors identified five communities of actors in scholarly communication — funders and institutions; infrastructure providers; researchers; libraries, consortia, and library associations; and policymakers — and challenged each of these communities to take specific actions to increase bibliodiversity in scholarly communication. For libraries, consortia, and library associations, we are called upon to assess the levels of diversity in our investments in scholarly communication and to establish standard models and criteria for funding alternatives to traditional toll-access models.
The Coalition for Diversity & Inclusion in Scholarly Communications (C4DISC) was founded by several national and international organizations, including the Library Publishing Coalition and the Society for Scholarly Publishing, to address issues of diversity and inclusion within the scholarly publishing industry. One of the ways this group has worked toward addressing these issues is to serve as host for three Toolkits of Equity. Created as part of the Triangle Scholarly Communications Institute, the toolkits aim to present best practices to address racial disparities specific to the scholarly publishing community. The first of these toolkits, Antiracism Toolkit for Allies, was released this summer. The remaining two toolkits, Antiracism Toolkit for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and Antiracism Toolkit for Organizations, will be released at a later date.
Though focused primarily on issues of race, the Antiracism Toolkit for Allies is also among a growing number of resources and initiatives recognizing the intersectionality of language and linguistic equity with broader issues of diversity and inclusion. The Association of European University Presses, in conjunction with this year’s conference of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, hosted a workshop on multilingualism in which Emanuel Kulczycki challenged participants to think beyond the common use of “international” to mean “available in English” and critically examine how processes of internationalization can embrace linguistic diversity, rather than merely trying to bridge it. One new step in this direction has been the launch of the Helsinki Initiative on Multilingualism in Scholarly Communication, which advocates for the support researchers and publishers need to engage in practical linguistic equity work.
Also worth noting is MetaDocencia, an emerging community of practice focused on empowering educators in the Spanish-speaking world, particularly in developing and underserved regions. Where other initiatives focus on ensuring that scholarly communication content is accessible to diverse language communities, MetaDocencia is focused on making scholarly communication tools accessible by offering free, virtual courses and workshops in online teaching, data analysis, coding, and other core skills. This work provides Spanish-language OER in these areas as OER, and also aims to translate the successful techniques of English-language communities like the Carpentries not only across languages, but across infrastructures, professional communities, and cultural norms to render key areas of 21st-century knowledge production more inclusive.
Atla and Atla Open Press
- eliminating barriers to participating in scholarly communication;
- creating and maintaining an environment that respects diverse traditions, heritages, and experiences;
- promoting diversity not only among its staff but also within its committees, editorial boards, and other working groups of the membership;
- raising awareness among underrepresented groups of career opportunities in libraries and with other actors within the scholarly communication space; and
- supporting its members in achieving diversity and inclusion within their organizations.
Theological Librarianship, an open access publication of Atla, recently issued a call for submissions for its Spring 2021 issue, which it is devoting to addressing questions of diversity, equity, and inclusion in theological libraries and librarianship. The journal seeks brief statements or reflections that address concerns and realities touching race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, class, disability, and ethnic identity in critical and constructive ways. Submissions are due by January 3, 2021, at the journal’s new web site.
Atla staff and the Atla Open Press Advisory Council have also been working to update and revise the Press’s House Style guidelines to address the need for bias-free language in our publications. Notably, in recognition of the decisions of the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Chicago Manual of Style, and others, the Press adopted a policy to capitalize the terms “Black,” “White,” and “Indigenous” when used as racial or ethnic designations for specific persons or populations. We will continue to expand our guidelines and policies to ensure that our publications are free of bias.
Sometimes our systems don’t allow time to slow down to accommodate practices that are out of the ordinary, but such accommodations are necessary in building inclusive processes.
The Press is also working to amplify the voices of scholars and activists who have been de-centered by English-language dominance in academic publishing. In our forthcoming book, Claiming Notability for Women Activists in Religion, editor Colleen Hartung and author Karma Lekshe Tsomo demonstrate the importance of accessing sources in multiple languages in order to claim the global impact of women across traditions. Beyond content, however, we seek to engage a more diverse range of contributors in our publishing process. Another chapter in Claiming Notability comes from a Mexican scholar, Martha González Pérez, and our staff created new practices for author (and translator) training and communication to expand the possibilities for bilingual participation in each step of our publishing workflow.
As the Antiracism Toolkit says, “Sometimes our systems don’t allow time to slow down to accommodate practices that are out of the ordinary, but such accommodations are necessary in building inclusive processes” (pp. 25, 27). While the time we have allocated to this work has been limited, we are proud to have taken it and we are excited to devote additional time to making our operations more equitable, more inclusive, and, thereby, more representative of the achievements and concerns of librarians in religious studies and theology around the world today.
The theme of equity and inclusion in open access has been central to the last two years of’ Open Access Week events. Revisit the SCOOP columns from 2018 and 2019 for more on the importance of equity in open knowledge and how Atla is working to support these efforts.
One of the oft-stated ways for libraries to support equity in open access is through investment in open infrastructure. Learn more about why this is important and how to get involved at Invest in Open Infrastructure.
OASPA’s Multilingualism Working Group maintains information on the state-of-the-art in multilingual scholarly communications, links to numerous “best practice” examples, compiles statistics and other data to help researchers and publishers achieve maximum impact in their efforts to engage and reach multilingual communities, and welcomes participation by scholars and publishers sharing these interests.
The APA Style Guide has developed a comprehensive guide to bias-free language that is instructive for all forms of communication.
The SCOOP, Scholarly COmmunication and Open Publishing, is a monthly column published to inform Atla members of recent developments, new resources, or interesting stories from the realm of scholarly communication and open access publishing.
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