The How and the Why of Collecting Identity Data: Part 1

Fast Facts:

There are many data points of interest relating to a journal’s authors and reviewers, including location, whether they have ORCID numbers, their expertise, etc.

It is important to attempt to create a reviewer pool at least as diverse as the group of authors who submit to your journal.

It’s Peer Review Week 2021!  This is an important event, celebrated each year in September, to focus on a specific aspect of peer review through educational opportunities, information dissemination, and open discussion.  This year’s theme is “Identity in Peer Review”.

 At Origin Reports, that makes us think about capturing data around authors’ and reviewers’ identities, which can include the following:

  • Countries of Residence – so we can determine the ratio (or balance) of authors to reviewers in various geographic locations,

  • Roles for Individuals – how many authors are also reviewers?

  • ORCiDs – how many of our authors have included ORCiDs ( in their user accounts?  How many have added it to their manuscripts for publication?  Should we start requiring new system users to include an ORCiD in their accounts?

  • Expertise – what are the areas of expertise for our authors and reviewers?  Are there gaps we need to fill?

Ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion for our authors, reviewers, and editorial board members, raises all manner of privacy questions regarding the collection of “identity” data, such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, and disability.  By collecting this information, we could benchmark where we are and identify how we want to improve; alternatively, how might these data be misused, now or in the future, even inadvertently?  Once the information is in our submission systems, how do we keep it safe?  Would collecting this information be GDPR compliant?

 I (Kristen Overstreet) will be moderating a session at the ISMTE Global Virtual Event ( on October 13th at 1:30 EDT / 10:30 PDT titled “Using Data to Promote DEI: You Can’t Improve What You Don’t Measure” where these questions will be addressed, as well as many others. I am looking forward to learning from the speakers and attendees how we can improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the operation of our journals without causing harm to individuals.

 We want to report our data accurately, quickly, and informatively but we must also consider how we collect those data and why we do so, what questions are we trying to answer, and who might be affected, both positively and negatively. Another consideration is how we name and define the terms/variables with which we will collect data to ensure they are understood by a global audience. For example, a “cookie” in the U.S. is a “biscuit” in the U.K. Additionally, we need to be clear regarding what we are asking when we ask someone to identify themselves. Do we want to know about where they live, where they were born, their race, their ethnicity, or their affiliated institution(s)? Lastly, how important is it that we determine standards for collecting identity data? If each journal has their own method and rationale, it will be difficult to make comparisons.

 Take the opportunity this week to learn more about how identity affects peer review and how we can promote DEI in our practices.


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