We are building a new, more equitable way of evaluating and publishing scholarly work. We build community. We co-create knowledge. We create equity.
The following statement is an evolving, not-at-all-comprehensive, and imperfect document that our team is committed to maintaining and re-shaping as we learn more about how to better commit our full selves and the work we do to our values. This document has received the invaluable influence of many people who have touched us at different points in time. To name a few, we acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Antoinette Foster, Dr. Kim Tran, Lorraine Chuen and many others from the OpenCon family, Dr. Leslie Chan, Dr. Baha Mali, DeEtta Jones and her work with our fiscal sponsor Code for Science and Society and the Invest in Open Infrastructure organizations.
Last update September 1, 2021.
PREreview creates equity within traditional scholarly peer review by providing concrete opportunities for traditionally marginalized research communities to get involved, train, connect, and be recognized for their contributions to scholarship.
Since peer review is conducted by people and thus is naturally subject to influence by the biases of people, we address biases at the start of the peer review process. In traditional peer review, people often replicate power structures that reinforce the disenfranchisement and exclusion of individuals, groups of individuals, as well as entire nations.
The existing inequities, lack of diversity, and non-inclusive practices within peer review are only a manifestation of much larger problems deriving from structural and cultural oppressive systems that were created and continue to work to maintain and reinforce these disparities. These oppressive systems include, but are not limited to, patriarchal systems, white supremacist culture, heteronormativity, and the practice of colonialism. All of these systems are connected to each other, they are all human endeavors, they are part of who we are collectively, and they are embedded into everything that we create.
Therefore, we recognize that our work aimed at dismantling these systems within the scholarly peer review space cannot exist outside of a broader action that starts with our individual commitments to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) practices in our everyday lives and ends with radical transformation in the very fabric of our institutions and structures.
Below is our attempt to communicate clearly how we commit ourselves to these values by forging them into the way we work.
How are we committed to equity?
We strive to provide access to equitable peer review opportunities and apply an equity lens throughout all our work.
Through our open-source and free preprint review platform we provide opportunities for researchers to take peer review into their own hands by contributing openly to the review of preprints. While anyone with an ORCID iD can create an account and engage on PREreview, the platform features, content, and tools are designed to center and prioritize the needs and lived-experiences of groups underrepresented in scholarship.
Read more about our approach to tool design through an equity lens here.
Through our Open Reviewers training and mentoring program we support early-career researchers (ECRs) through a path of guided learning to build their profile as socially-conscious, constructive peer reviewers, and equip them with the skills to become mentors themselves. The program not only trains ECRs in the principles of constructive peer review, but also centers and weaves into the very fabric of the curriculum tools to help identify and mitigate biases, reflecting on how systems of oppression manifest in the review process and our individual actions as reviewers to mitigate their impact.
At least 50% of the ECRs who participate in the Open Reviewers program self-identify as belonging to underrepresented racial minorities as defined by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which includes Black/African Americans, LatinX, Indigenous/First Peoples/American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
Read more about the Open Reviewers program and our pilot here.
More recently, Open Reviewers has been adapted to a workshop format that allows us to deliver our training in a more condensed way. It also allows us to work towards our organizational sustainability beyond grant-funding schemes by generating revenue that funds our operations. However, we do not believe that only organizations and research institutions that can afford it should have access to this opportunity. Therefore, we are working on a sponsorship plan that will make it possible for half of the workshops we deliver yearly to be offered at discounted rates or for free, prioritizing those communities who are more disadvantaged and have been actively marginalized.
Our commitment to equity is also woven into how we approach partnership building. Our work is limited by the perspectives, expertise, and experiences we have as a team and our ideas are influenced by the communities with which we are most closely connected. We therefore approach partnerships from an opportunity perspective, offering our support, knowledge and resources to individuals, groups, organizations who need it to advance goals and missions that are in line with ours.
How are we committed to diversity?
Many groups remain underrepresented in peer review. The gatekeepers to knowledge production and dissemination are predominantly male and come from regions of the world that have perpetuated oppression and imposed rules on other cultures for centuries.
While our vision is to live in a world where all dimensions of diversity are represented in peer review to reflect the diversity that makes up scholarship globally, our commitment to diversity in our programming is currently focused on increasing racial, ethnical, and geographical representation in the peer review pool.
As mentioned above, through our Open Reviewers program we hope to specifically increase racial representation in the reviewing pool by reserving 50% of the mentees’ slots to ECRs who self-identify as underrepresented minorities in North America.
One of the outputs of the program is to contribute to an open database of racially diverse ECR reviewers who not only have expressed interest in reviewing but have also received the training and published 2 or more reviews to showcase their expertise and demonstrated engagement in peer review.
The makeup of our small team is reflective of our values and commitment to diversity. The entire Leadership Team is female, and Dr. Granados is queer and Latina. We are committed to advocating for and representing our commitment to diversity not only by serving underrepresented communities but also in the makeup of the people with which we contract and those who serve as our advisors.
Our commitment to diversity also manifests in the way we show up in public spaces. We recently pledged to only speak at conferences whose organizing body prioritizes diversity in their speaker selection, and that have a clear and actionable Code of Conduct to ensure participants are invited into a safe and harassment-free space.
How are we committed to inclusion?
We envision a future in which every subject-of-matter expert within or outside of the academy is welcome into a peer review culture where constructive feedback is expected and rewarded. In this future, expertise is not defined by seniority and privilege coming from access to resources or geographical borders, but is instead be crafted experience built via engaging in mentorship opportunities, collaboration, and shared contributions to peer review. In our preprint review platform, user profiles and filters de-emphasize information about a researcher’s title and work location and instead prioritize list of review contributions, community engagement, and mentorship and training.
Through our live-streamed preprint journal clubs we facilitate the confluence of ideas and participation from across the world, enabling respectful and constructive conversations around preprints, often leading to openly published PREreviews. When possible, we choose to discuss preprints authored by underrepresented groups, and/or whose research topics give us a chance to reflect on social issues that lead to structural inequities.
These events are also intentionally designed to enable both verbal and written contributions to suit different personality types and preference of interaction, and are facilitated to ensure respectful and constructive conversations. We provide live-caption functionality, and, when possible, sign language interpretation and written and live translations in languages other than English.
EQUITY: The degree to which researchers are free from historic and present-day barriers to full access and participation in research production, evaluation, and dissemination. We focus on equity and not equality because we recognize that people begin with different resources and barriers, and therefore will need more or less support to reach the same level of access.
DIVERSITY: The extent to which representation among peer reviewers reflects the diversity of identities and backgrounds across global research communities.
INCLUSION: Enabling all researchers to bring their full potential, identities, perspectives, experiences, and skills to the table in a way that is affirming and rewarding to the reviewer, and encourages contribution to the peer review process and scholarship as a whole.