Patterns of Gender and International Diversity of Editors and Editorial Boards Among Journals With Open Access Licenses and Open Science Policies

Micah Altman,1 Philip Cohen2


This study measured diversity in scholarly journals’ editors and editorial boards and evaluated associations between editor and board diversity and journal policies toward open access and open science. This study extends the literature on international diversity in editorial leadership positions1,2 to a large multidisciplinary corpus of journals.


Multiple data sources were integrated to assemble a novel database describing the composition of editors and editorial boards, building on Pacher et al,3 which used web mining to harvest editor-level information. These data were cleaned, coded, and supplemented with journal-level classifications of journal discipline and journal policies derived from the 2018 Australian national research evaluation, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), and Center for Open Science TOPS initiative (TOPS). This dataset, collected in February 2021, comprised 17 publishers, 6090 journals, and 478,563 named editor roles. Diversity measures were computed for 14,228 journal editorial boards. Editor gender was imputed from editor names by comparison with Social Security Administration, Census, and social media corpora. Editor country was determined by applying geo-entity extraction and gazetteer lookup of organizational affiliation. Because chief editorship is often limited to a single post, diversity was measured across the pool of chief editors within that category. Boards were stratified by type (review, editor, chief) based on each journal’s labeling of the board member’s specific role. Journal policies were classified by access policy (ie, open or closed) based on whether the journal met DOAJ criteria (this corresponds approximately to gold and diamond open access categories) and by the presence of an open-science policy (applying the TOPS criteria). Means were calculated with bootstrapped 95% CIs.


The grand mean across board types was 28.7% for women representation and 69.7% for international diversity, as measured with the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index. There was substantial variation across disciplines: women composition of editorial boards ranged from 26% in engineering journals to 53% in education journals. Figure 3 shows mean diversity by board type. Women composition of open access journal editorial boards was lower than that of closed-access journal editorial boards (−7%); in journals with open science policy vs those without (−4%), and in journals that were both open access and had an open science policy vs those without either (−6%). In contrast, open-access journal editorial boards were associated with higher international diversity (>11%) compared with closed-access journal boards. Furthermore, editorial boards were, on average, disproportionately male and USA-centric or UK-centric, although the specific level of diversity varied substantially by discipline.


In this cross-sectional study of gender balance and international diversity in editorial boards, open-access journals were associated with lower women representation and more international diversity than their closed-access counterparts.


1, Bhaumik S, Jagnoor J. Diversity in the editorial boards of global health journals. BMJ Global Health. 2019;4:e001909. doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2019-001909

2. Wu D, Lu X, Li J, Li J. Does the institutional diversity of editorial boards increase journal quality? the case economics field. Scientometrics. 2020;124:1579-1597. doi:10.1007/s11192-020-03505-6

3. Pacher A, Heck T, Schoch K. Open editors: a dataset of scholarly journals’ editorial board positions. SocArXiv. Preprint published online March 10, 2021. Updated October 2, 2021. doi:10.31235/osf.io/jvzq7

1MIT Libraries, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA, escience@mit.edu; 2Department of Sociology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA

Conflict of Interest Disclosures

None reported.


Supported in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, grant LG-250130-OLS-21.