Feb 11, 2013

Posted in Uncategorized

Journals on Scholastica “Ask Authors To Submit Demographic Information” for “Diversity Initiatives”

With Scholastica, there is a new player in the journal submission process. ExpressO no longer has a monopoly. As I noted in a previous post, it seems that ExpressO is modifying their program to compete with this new entrant (including making it free for journals, which is a very good thing.

I haven’t submitted through Scholastica yet, but I did sign up for an account, and discovered one interesting feature.

The submission page asks for the Author’s demographic information, including an author’s gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and a box to explain “economic hardship and diversity” (it suggests “Additional comments that demonstrate diversity (for example; socioeconomic, status, geographic region, race, ethnicity, gender, etc.”)

scholastica-2

While it is usually optional, Scholastica notes that “Some journals request additional data from authors to aid in their diversity initiatives.”

Scholastica explains further:

Some journals hosted on Scholastica request optional demographic information (e.g. race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) from authors when they submit a manuscript. Optional demographic data collected in the manuscript submission form will be made available to journal editors only, and optional demographic data will be stored with the manuscript submitted to that journal. Journals which do not request optional demographic information at the time of submission will not have access to this data. Authors are not required to submit optional demographic information in order to submit a manuscript to a journal on Scholastica. The choice to request this data is made explicitly by the journal, and use of the data is entirely the responsibility of the journal collecting the data. Scholastica will store the data on the journal’s behalf and allow journals to collect and analyze data, but Scholastica will not sell, trade, or transfer an individual’s personal information to any third party or entity.

Journals who ask authors to submit demographic information:

California Law Review

UC Davis Law Review

Boston College Law Review

In order to submit to the California Law Review, UC Davis Law Review, and Boston College Law Review (I suspect this list will grow as journals are added to Scholastica), an author is asked (not sure whether this means its mandatory) to list race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. I don’t know if journals in other fields ask for this information (I think most peer-reviewed journals review articles blind), but I have not seen this from Law Reviews before

So what to make of this request for information? To my knowledge, the journals have not stated why data about race, sexual orientation, and gender identity will be used, nor have they specified how this information will be considered. I suppose it is possible that they are simply collecting this information so they know who is submitting articles.

Though I am quite curious if, and how this information is being used during the selection process.

I’ll try to find out more.

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  • Brian Cody

    Hello Prof. Blackman, this is Brian Cody with Scholastica. Sorry for any confusion – I wanted to clarify that, as the blurb you quoted states, “Authors are not required to submit optional demographic information in order to submit a manuscript to a journal on Scholastica.” As shown in the screenshot in your post, we labeled this section “Optional Demographic Information” to help make it clear to authors that this information is optional and never required. Thank you for the opportunity to clarify, and if anyone has any questions please feel free to contact me at bcody@scholasticahq.com.

    • http://joshblackman.com/ Josh Blackman

      Hi Brian,

      Thanks for the comment. I understand that it is not required. I don’t know what “ask” means. Is that strongly preferred? The fact that the majority say it is optional, but some “ask” for it raises a presumption that it is preferred. Otherwise, they would not have to “ask” for it. And if it is preferred, what is the reason, and use for that preference.

      I understand this is the decision of the journal, and not Scholastica. I will reach out to the journals in question to find more. Thanks!

      • Steve Rappoport

        I suspect that the end result will be some sort of quota policy designed to ensure that all genders, ethnicities, orientations, and the like get their “fair” share of publication opportunities. The proof will be in the results. If the demographic profile of a journal’s contributors change over time, that will be strong evidence that factors other than the merits of an article came into play in the decisions as to what to publish.

        There has never been, to my knowledge, any restriction imposed on who could make a submission to a journal. Has any journal rejected a worthy article because of the author’s demographic information? I would be surprised if the answer is yes. So I am left with the thinking that the quota policy will result in the rejection of articles that previously would have been published and the publication, in their place, of articles that previously would have been rejected. I cannot help but think that, as a result, the quality of the journal will decline, since decisions would not be based solely on how good the articles are.

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  • UncommonWisdom

    I am a disabled attorney. Once I earned my JD, I spent years unemployed but not for want of trying. I applied for literally thousands of jobs and with the Army JAG. Without exception, I was rejected from each one. The scumbag proponents of “diversity” for gays and women should answer to the disabled. As a group, our poverty rate is over 25% (a rate comparable to American Indians) but no one, NO ONE is advocating for us.

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