As a growing coalition of 56 Member Societies from 40 countries, FEMS is by nature a diverse organization. Our commitment to helping support microbiologists do their work, promoting the best in microbiology research and knowledge to the world, and bringing microbiologists together to share that knowledge also means having a diverse range of voices and viewpoints is essential. By extension, it’s vital that the FEMS Journals are also providing a venue for equal opportunity; not only that, but we also want to be a catalyst for the changes required to improve diversity, equality, accessibility, and inclusion across the microbiology community. #TheCulturePlate
Openness and accessibility for readers and authors
First and foremost, the journals exist as a means to communicate the latest research across all areas of microbiology, and that opportunity should be open to everyone. The FEMS portfolio is itself diverse, with a range of broad scope and niche journals, hybrid and fully open access journals – as a result, there are a multitude of options to ensure authors can pick the best route to publication for their work.
- In each of our hybrid journals there is a ‘free to publish’ option, with no submission charges, page charges, or publication charges, and papers published using this option become free to view after 12 months
- By publishing the journals in partnership with Oxford University Press, we have access to the Developing Countries Initiative which enables discounted subscriptions to our hybrid journals, or discounted publication charges for our fully open access journals
- With the expansion of Read & Publish (also known as Transformative) Agreements, we’re also expanding access to open access publication across the portfolio
Giving a platform to marginalized voices
There are various initiatives across the FEMS Journals which are attempting to turn the spotlight towards those individuals who rarely get the opportunity to shine. Since 2016, the FEMS Microbiology Letters Professional Development section has not only provided materials to assist with training the next generation of microbiologists, but has also shared profiles of key female figures, hosted a series to enable any early career researcher the opportunity to be fully prepared for the next steps in their career, and provides a venue for personal perspectives on inequality, in microbiology and beyond.
A forthcoming Thematic Issue in Pathogens and Disease also seeks to showcase the often invisible contributions underrepresented minorities are contributing to STEM disciplines; read Guest Editor Antentor Hinton’s eye-opening piece on navigating racialized microaggressions, and check out the call for papers.
Integrity and inclusion in peer review
The FEMS Journals are also experimenting with a variety of initiatives which seek to improve peer review from a diversity, inclusion and equality perspective. We want to ensure that all reviewers receive credit for their reviews, including co-reviewers who are often invisible contributors to the peer review process; by partnering with Publons, we enable reviewers to choose when and how they share their vital contributions.
We also want to protect and support our authors, and we are therefore trialling two alternative models of peer review. From December 2021, FEMS Microbiology Letters has used a double-anonymized model, with the aim of reducing unconscious bias throughout the peer review process.
Learn from Editor-in-Chief of FEMS Microbiology Letters, Rich Boden, about the double-anonymized peer review model:
Testing the opposite end of the spectrum, FEMS Microbes operates an optional transparent peer review model, allowing authors the opportunity to share reviewer comments and author responses to those comments., and reviewers to attach their name to the review. Both options can be taken independently from each other.
Learn from the Editors-in-Chief of FEMS Microbes, Jana Jass, Kimberly Kline and Kathleen Scott, about the transparent peer review model:
The FEMS Journals are also participating in the Joint commitment for action on inclusion and diversity in publishing, again via our publishing partner OUP. This group aims to set a new standard to ensure a more including and diverse culture within scholarly publishing, providing guidance and helping to set benchmarks from which all journals can build and improve.
Expanding the network
Building communities is a key element of the FEMS mission and we are proud of our efforts to ensure everyone has equal opportunities to participate. From free webinars to volunteering opportunities to peer review and publishing workshops, there is always lots going on. However, we’re aware that there is more to be done – if you have ideas for how the FEMS Journals can improve, a perspective you think should be heard, or feedback for us to take on board we want to hear from you. Contact us to share your views!
About the authors of this blog
The FEMS and OUP Team, who together take care of FEMS Journals publishing.
About this blog section
In the section #TheCulturePlate, we give a voice to our network, which is greatly diverse and spread all over the world. We present personal accounts, views, opinions, and interviews.
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