Outlook: Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine

Summer 2023

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in SBM’s Journals

Jun Ma, MD, PhD, FAHA, FSBM & the Publications Council

The editors of Annals of Behavioral Medicine (ABM) and Translational Behavioral Medicine (TBM) have prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives since before DEI was a common acronym. Progress has been made in publishing special issues on health equity, supporting broader diversity initiatives in the world of publishing, and working to diversify both journals’ associate editors, editorial board members, and reviewers. In February 2022, ABM revised its policies on bias-free language and mandatory reporting of gender, race, ethnicity and age for all participants, as well as reporting the socioeconomic status of the sample. From the ABM Instructions to Authors: “One can no longer write ‘the majority were…’ or use a ‘White/non-White binary’ when providing sample demographics, but must include all categories in the text or a table. If the researcher did not measure gender, race/ethnicity, age, or socioeconomic status, this must be stated within the text of the article; we hope that this raises awareness and will encourage both the recruitment and reporting of more diverse samples.” (Revenson & Zoccola, 2022).

For 2023, the journals’ editors furthered their efforts in DEI by developing formal action plans to increase sociodemographic diversity (e.g., gender, gender orientation, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation) in research practices and in publication/review, a priority within SBM’s strategic plan.

ABM DEI Plans for 2023:

  • Assess submission topic trends to identify gaps in the areas of diversity, health disparities, and minority health, and issue calls for papers as needed. A call for papers was announced in April 2023 for an ongoing special series on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Minority Health in Behavioral Medicine to provide the research, practice, and policy communities with important data and findings on the health and healthcare experiences of individuals with diverse sexual orientations (i.e., those who are not exclusively heterosexual) and/or gender identity (i.e., those for whom their gender identity or expression differs from their sex/gender assigned at birth).
  • Document the barriers in recruiting associate editors and editorial board members from underrepresented groups in order to create solutions.
  • Review the established list of journal keywords and, if necessary, increase the categories related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Purge keywords that are outdated, irrelevant, or not current with evolving language. 
  • Develop guidelines for peer reviewers that include ways to address racism, heterosexism, and white supremacy in the manuscript review process.

TBM DEI Plans for 2023:

  • Consider DEI when selecting editor’s choice articles, which are temporarily made free to view and are specially promoted when new issues publish.
  • Investigate citation analysis questions that reviewers can answer to ensure authors are not omitting critical references from scholars in underrepresented groups.
  • Make plans for a DEI-relevant special issue.
  • Engage the SBM Diversity Institute for Emerging Leaders to become involved with the Journal, for example through invitations to serve on the Editorial Board.
  • Support the collection of demographic data, where appropriate, to be able to characterize aspects of diversity (e.g., among manuscript authors and peer reviewers).

Both journals will also work in concert with SBM and OUP to develop a system to carefully collect author and reviewer demographic information, which is critical for aggregate data analysis to inform change. This data collection is not currently possible in the Editorial Manager submission system; however, SBM and the journals’ publisher Oxford University Press are strongly pressing Aries, the owner of Editorial Manager, to make this update as soon as possible.

Of course, DEI is a journey and not a destination, so this critical work continues. The impact will be deepened and sustained only with active engagement by ABM and TBM authors, editors, and peer reviewers, and the membership of SBM. The editors-in-chief welcome self-nominations from SBM members to become reviewers, editorial board members, or even associate editors. It’s as simple as emailing Dr. Tracey Revenson at Tracey.Revenson@hunter.cuny.edu for ABM or Dr. Cheryl Knott at cholt14@umd.edu for TBM.