Slovo Statement on Equity and Inclusivity
By serian.carlyle.14, on 1 October 2021
Slovo is committed to pursuing equity and inclusivity in all aspects of our work. We believe that good research is diverse, inclusive, and accessible. We stand in solidarity with those experiencing oppression and discrimination and will do everything we can to ensure our work does not reinforce inequality.
In keeping with UCL’s Equity and Inclusion Plan, we “aim to acknowledge, understand, and tackle structural inequities and unjust social power imbalances that affect our communities across the institution”. More information about UCL’s wider commitments in this area, can be found here and specific policies are here.
We are aware that the fields we work in have traditionally been and continue to be very homogenous. In the 2019/2020 academic year, data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency showed that 75% of academics working in UK Higher Education were white. Less than 5% of academic staff were known to have a disability. At higher levels of seniority, diversity decreases. This homogeneity can make it very difficult for people from other groups to enter academia, as their needs have not traditionally been considered and they can find themselves isolated. This creates a vicious cycle, making it more difficult for change to occur.
The British university system is intrinsically linked to systems of white supremacy and colonialism. Concurrently, research has often focused on areas acceptable to those with power, such that works exploring race, gender, disability, and/or sexuality have often not received the level of attention they merit.
We do not deny these legacies and we continue to exist within these systems. However, we will do everything we can to learn from these histories and continuing injustices and work to change the spaces over which we hold influence. We believe that diversity is vital to good research, both in terms of the research community and the work we conduct.
We are a small, non-profit, volunteer-run student journal. All work done for Slovo – whether that of the editorial team, peer reviewers, or writers – is done around other commitments, in our own time and without any remuneration. That means that our responsivity is slower than ideal, and we ask for your consideration and generosity in this area. However, your constructive criticism is valued and appreciated, and your suggestions for how we can improve will help us make faster progress in our goals. This is intended as an explanation, not as an excuse; work in this realm is a priority for the journal and will be treated as such.
Slovo is designed to be a space for academics early in their studies to share their work, learn, and grow.
Academia can be a very hierarchical space and its traditions can be alienating and exclusionary for many. Those with societal privilege will often find it easier to make connections and learn how systems work. Student journals offer a space to start to level the playing field. Contributors learn how systems of peer review work; they receive feedback; publish their work; and build their profile, in a safer space that is designated for their development. We hope that this can smooth the transition into the wider world of academia or other fields.
Peer review is, at its heart, a space for learning. In the same vein, we extend our commitment to learning to our own actions as an editorial team. We are open to making mistakes, and think it is important to acknowledge them. That allows for us to build and develop, as individuals and as an organisation.
The editorial team will return to this document every year, reflect on our commitments, and implement lessons we have learnt. We would welcome suggestions for specific actions.
- We will do whatever we can to ensure that Slovo is an inclusive and welcoming space for all.
- We will particularly highlight work on aspects of our fields that have traditionally been excluded in academic research. This may mean soliciting reviews for specific books or articles on certain topics.
- We welcome and encourage contributors from all backgrounds.
- All allegations of inequality or prejudice will be taken seriously and will be investigated through UCL’s systems, unless the person making the statement wishes for it to remain an informal and internal affair.
- We will provide some feedback to all submissions, even those that we reject, to help authors understand the ways they can improve and develop their work.
- We are aware that unpaid work often falls on people who are marginalised and/or in precarious positions. We endeavour to use a diverse pool of peer reviewers with regard to geography, race, gender, age, and seniority.
- We use a double blind peer review system to attempt to reduce incidence of prejudice and unconscious bias. We welcome suggestions for ways to improve this work.
- We will work to maximise the transparency of the editorial process, for example, publishing our guides to writing for Slovo.
- We aim for flexibility in terms of both working hours and deadlines for everyone involved in Slovo. We are aware that many people may have caring responsibilities, fluctuating health, or financial pressures that mean they cannot prioritise work with Slovo. We endeavour to provide alternative options so that everyone is able to manage their own priorities and commitments, and continue their involvement with the journal.
- We will do our part to maximise the accessibility of research. Given that the publication is open access, our articles will be accessible to anyone with an internet connection – free from paywalls – and we are free to publish (our authors will not face any article processing charges (APCs)).
- We will acknowledge our mistakes and learning.
- While much of our work is time-bound, opportunities will always be made to submit work in later issues if there are reasons contributors cannot make deadlines.
- Level of English accuracy and proficiency will not be a reason for rejection, but instead authors will be supported with editing their work before publication.
- When hiring for the Editorial team, applicants will be expected to demonstrate their commitment to these principles.
- The Editorial team will be selected on commitment to Slovo’s projects and ethics, as well as their enthusiasm, rather than solely considering previous experience. We are aware that many people from marginalised groups may have been excluded from certain opportunities (e.g. unpaid work experience) and therefore do not have an equal playing field.
- We will always be open to feedback and will act on all feedback to the best of our ability.
Originally written by Serian Carlyle and Claudia Griffiths, with support from the 2020/2021 Editorial Team. We are grateful for feedback provided, including contributions by Chloe Hixson and other anonymous readers.