Equity, diversity and inclusion
The Company of Biologists is committed to improving equity, diversity and inclusion in all our activities. We believe that diversity – in areas including but not limited to geography, ethnicity, gender and career stage – is essential for a community to thrive. As such, we aim to engage a broad and diverse group of authors, reviewers, editors, staff, readers, grant awardees and meeting participants.
Our publishing activities
As a founding signatory of the Joint commitment for action on inclusion and diversity in publishing, we recognise that disparities and biases exist in publishing, and we are actively working towards ensuring we reflect the diversity of the community in our publishing activities. By partnering with other like-minded publishers to share knowledge and expertise, we aim to develop more inclusive practices and policies to better serve and improve outcomes for under-represented members of our community. We are committed to the minimum standards for inclusion and diversity defined by this group and are actively working towards these aims.
To date, our initiatives have included:
- collecting gender data for all users of our manuscript tracking systems (authors and referees) to allow us to assess the gender diversity of our communities. We will also shortly be introducing the collection of race and ethnicity data according to the schema developed by the joint commitment.
- publishing data on the gender and geographic make-up of our author and reviewer pools. A recent analysis can be found in this poster that was presented at the recent Council of Science Editors Annual Conference.
- introducing a retrospective author name change policy.
- facilitating the use of non-Western characters in author names on publications.
- setting up the Node Network (for developmental and stem cell biologists) and FocalPlane Network (for researchers with microscopy expertise), databases of researchers intended to help members of the community organising conferences, assembling committees, seeking speakers for seminar series, looking for referees and so on to identify individuals who might not otherwise come to mind. These databases are searchable both on scientific expertise but also on aspects of diversity.
- including EDI as a regular agenda item at Editor meetings, and working towards increased diversity among our editor teams and on our Editorial Boards.
All of our content is freely available to researchers from lower-income countries through the HINARI Research4Life initiative. In 2021 we signed a landmark agreement with Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL), which enables corresponding authors in developing and transition economy countries to publish Open Access research articles in our three hybrid journals without paying an article processing charge (APC); we will be extending this agreement to include our fully Open Access titles journals (Disease Models & Mechanisms and Biology Open) from 2024. In addition, these two journals grant full APC waivers to corresponding authors based in lower-income countries. Authors who genuinely have no funds to cover APCs may also apply for a full or partial waiver on the basis of financial hardship.
Our charitable grants
Our Scientific Meeting Grants provide financial support for organisers of in-person, hybrid or virtual meetings, workshops, conferences and summer schools around the world in the fields covered by our journals. Whilst the quality of science remains paramount in assessing which applications we will fund, we would prefer to support events where organisers have sought maximal feasible diversity in speakers in terms of geography, gender and age. In addition, where attendance at events is selective, then we would expect such points to also be influential. We also encourage organisers to include a virtual element in their event, making them more accessible to a larger and more diverse audience and promoting inclusivity, accessibility and sustainability. Additional funding, through our Sustainable Conferencing initiative, is available for meeting organisers with innovative ideas to improve accessibility and inclusivity in their meetings.
Our Travelling Fellowships provide financial support for early-career researchers to make collaborative visits to other laboratories. We aim to facilitate international collaborations and encourage applications from across the globe. Applications are assessed on the excellence of the candidate, the importance and innovative quality of the work to be done and the potential benefit to the applicant’s home lab.
Our Workshops and Meetings
Working with academics from across our community, we organise several small Workshops each year, as well as running meetings linked to the Company’s journals. Our events team is committed to providing a safe and productive meeting environment that fosters open dialogue and the exchange of scientific ideas, promotes equal opportunities and treatment for all participants, and is free of harassment and discrimination. Our code of conduct applies to all participants, including delegates, speakers, visitors, exhibitors, service providers and staff. We work closely with the academic organisers of our events to ensure our meetings are as diverse as possible and aim for an equal gender and good geographical balance in our speaker and delegate lists. We choose our venues to make sure they have accessibility options for all.
Each of our Workshops offers ten funded places for early-career researchers, whilst giving early-career researchers the same amount of time to present their work as senior scientists.
We recently initiated a programme to hold one Workshop based in a Global South country each year. The aim is to make our events accessible to a more diverse audience, supporting the scientific communities in these areas. We also have a Global South travel grant to support anyone from these regions that would like to attend one of our UK events.