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2021 DEI goals update

In April 2021 we launched our dedicated DEI webpage where we outline our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our commitment not only includes how we run our organization but also extends to how we execute our mission to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication. Truly Open Science requires direct action.

The DEI webpage is, however, more than just the words of our commitment. It is also where we transparently share our specific DEI goals in order to be held accountable to them. We’ve committed to sharing regular progress on this blog, and this is the first of those updates. (PLOS staff will continue to write their own posts about their particular thoughts and activities around DEI, also.)

Some of the goals will suit incremental updates, and some suit annual reporting. We’ll link each update below to the particular goal it relates to, and provide links when relevant. We will also be transparent about key setbacks or if we miss any targets, rather than simply glossing over these.

Goal: Increasing the number of historically underrepresented external contributors (e.g. authors, editors, reviewers) and strategic partners.

Goal: Developing editorial processes that recognize and minimize bias in the publication process, along high ethical standards.

  • PLOS has instituted a new policy to improve transparency in the reporting of research that is conducted in other countries or communities in order to prevent “parachute research” (also known as “helicopter” or “neo-colonial science”). Watch a recorded conversation, below, with some of the stakeholders who helped develop this policy.
  • *PLOS has formally joined the multi-publisher initiative to accelerate research culture change, coordinated by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) –  Joint commitment for action on inclusion and diversity in publishing. We had been participating and contributing from the start, but this update serves to make the collaboration official, and with pooled resources helps all publishers drive towards this goal. 
  • *PLOS is also a member of the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications (C4DISC) and as such commits to uphold its principles.

*A note on industry collaborations: we believe that collaborating with other publishers will help us all develop the methods and metrics to understand the diversity of our collective journals’ editorial boards, conscious of regional privacy laws and cultures, which in turn will help enable us all to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Goal: Increasing the number of historically underrepresented employees at PLOS, with an emphasis on managerial employee roles.

  • Through September 2021, we have met our internal sub-goal that every PLOS Leadership Team vacancy (4 vacancies filled in 2021) has included final candidates historically underrepresented in leadership, particularly Black, Latina/o, Indigenous and transgender people. In early 2022, we will report on how this has affected hiring outcomes for 2021.
  • We have increased investment by more than 50% to develop our recruiting function and interview methods , which are instrumental in meaningfully changing the way we hire. In September, we conducted a leadership team retrospective on the progress we’ve made, what the challenges are, and where we’ll focus our efforts in 2022.

Goal: Increasing the quantifiable signals of an inclusive work environment that values divergent perspectives, encourages critical inquiry, and ensures equitable advancement and rewards.

  • In early 2021, we translated our ideals of “diversity”, “equity”, and “inclusion” into three distinct sets of competencies in which to anchor our goals and development activities
  • In March, every leader at PLOS set DEI goals for 2021: goals ranged from raising awareness around key issues to changing processes to produce more equitable outcomes.
  • Our Chief People and Equity Officer, Kristina Martin, participated in a C4DISC panel discussion “The Glass Ceiling You Don’t Know About Yet: Removing Barriers for People with (Dis)abilities at Work
  • On October 12, 2021 we’re hosting an internal PLOS “Listening Session” in which neurodiverse leaders share their lived experiences with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Bipolar Disorder. 
  • In November, managers and employees will have practice sessions for strategies we’ve previously introduced to identify and reduce bias.
  • While barriers related to privacy, data collection and storage have prevented us from capturing broad diversity data across PLOS’ global employee population, we are working through the issues and plan to have the systems in place in 2022 to accurately capture data related to hire, retention and progression of employees at PLOS, disaggregated by identity group. In the meantime, we are collecting data for two smaller groups: the PLOS Leadership Team and our DEI Steering Committee. We will share this data in early 2022.

Goal: Increasing the publication of research that studies inequalities, racism, and inequities facing minority and/or marginalized populations (within the scope of each of our journals).

Thank you for reading, and please look out for the next update before the end of the year!


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