Psychonomic Diversity: A thumbnail sketch

The Psychonomic Society underscored its commitment to diversity and equality in three recent posts (here, here, and here). Moreover, the Society is one of more than 160 scientific organizations that signed an open letter to President Trump to protest the Executive Order that bans visitors from a set of 7 predominantly Muslim countries.

Those statements and letters are important, but they also invite questions about the Psychonomic Society’s own performance when it comes to diversity. The purpose of this post is to provide some information that may be of interest in this context.

Let us begin with the Digital Team, which comprises the Editor (me) and 7 Associate Editors. The photo below saves you clicking on the link, and it also tells a story about gender balance.

Similarly, the Society’s Governing Board is exactly gender-balanced. (With 16 members, it’s too big for a photo insert).

This is perhaps a good start, but there are other areas in which we can do better: As Janet Metcalfe, the Past Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, noted recently, “The editors and editorial boards, even of the Psychonomic journals, are dominated by men. We need to renew our efforts.”

But what about our publication practices?

What is our gender-profile in the literature, and how much national diversity is there among our authors?

To address these questions, the Society’s staff went through the list of all papers published in Psychonomics journals in 2012-2014 and in 2015-2016 and used the first author’s first name to identify gender. This approach is not exact (Springer does not solicit gender information at any stage during the submission process), but it is a good approximation.

Here are the results:

Approximately one third of all first authors during the last 5 years were women and the remainder were men.

Because the gender-identification process is fairly labor-intensive, we did not extend it to co-authors. We therefore do not know the overall composition of Psychonomics author teams, but we do have a good idea about first authors.

Turning to featured-content posts, we looked at 118 posts that were published on this site during the last two years (2015-2016). Two of those did not point to a specific article, but the remaining 116 did. If we now look at the gender of the first author of those articles (not the posts—the articles covered by the posts), then we find that 32 were authored by women and 88 by men. This proportion (28%) is slightly lower than the baserate for female authors in our journals overall (around 35%, see above). The difference fails to reach statistical significance, so one ought not to put too much weight on it.

However, as I mentioned earlier, it is noteworthy in this context that self-nominations tend to be gender-imbalanced: Given that our featured-content posts are written largely in response to self-nominations by authors, perhaps it is no accident that the proportion of featured female authors falls below the journals’ baserates.

Turning to the breadth of international representation, the relatively small sample of featured articles prevented a breakdown of our posts. However, I was able to obtain data for the Psychonomics journals, and I summarize some of those data in the table below.

I omitted the journals with a relatively small number of submissions (CABN and L&B) and focused on the larger journals. For AP&P, the data are from 1 January 2013 onward, and for the other journals the data are based on the three-year period January 2014 through December 2016 (as per the date of the acceptance letter).

The table below shows the data for the top 9 countries overall, although not all of them are represented equally across the journals:

Given the small sample sizes it is probably unwise to infer anything about cross-national acceptance rates. What is clear is that English-speaking countries are dominating the list, except perhaps for Behavior Research Methods (BRM), which seems to have a uniquely large number of articles from European countries—their share is equal to that of the U.S. and Canada put together.

Overall, the pattern suggests that our journals are being seen as a valuable outlet by many overseas researchers. Although there are relatively few submissions from countries not represented in the table above, it is gratifying that our journals received submissions from Argentina, Bulgaria, Brazil, Bahrain, Ecuador, and Iceland, to name but a few.

Please get in touch with me or anyone on the Governing Board if you have any suggestions about how we might further enhance our diversity and gender-balance.

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