Statement on Anti-racism, Equity, and Inclusion in SRCD Publications

As recommended by the Publications Committee and adopted by the Governing Council, November 2020.

From its inception in 1933, the Society for Research in Child Development has been at the forefront of research and action on behalf of children and their families. Its interdisciplinary focus has always pushed us to not only consider the rigor of our subject matter as an important scientific endeavor held to the highest standards, but also its relevance to the daily lives and welfare of all children.

Many unsung leaders have worked tirelessly and for decades to advance SRCD’s status as a vanguard of rigorous science about children around the world and from all walks of life. The Black Lives Matter movement has given these goals even more urgency. It is clear that all institutions and organizations, their policies and practices and their assumptions and values need to be carefully scrutinized, re-evaluated, and, as necessary, revised. We need to ensure that our “standard” scientific endeavors and practices, intentionally or unintentionally, do not exclude, marginalize, oppress, or silence members of Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.

Healthy—indeed, productive—tensions arising within our membership have pushed us to reconsider beliefs about normative universals from research and theory that have historically overrepresented White child development from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic settings. As a member-led organization, it is important to recognize the leadership of our Caucuses and Committees toward promoting greater inclusion of marginalized voices in the field and greater equity in the scope of research that is considered within our publications. Our organization has welcomed the creation of and formally institutionalized four Caucuses: Black (1973), Latinx (2004), Asian (2007), Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression (SOGIE; 2019). The collective work of these Caucuses, as well as our standing Ethnic and Racial Issues (ERI), Equity & Justice, and International Affairs Committees, form a significant part of SRCD’s contributions to the course-correction of historical and present structural and personal racism observed in science, writ large.

Yet, the work of inclusion, equity, and anti-racism should not rest solely on the shoulders of these aforementioned groups within our organization. As our highly regarded journals are perhaps the most public-facing element and explicitly gatekeeping mechanism of the SRCD enterprise, we must critically examine the extent to which our journals, Editors and Editorial Boards, reviewers and review standards, and Publications Committee activities implement practices and policies grounded in inclusive and anti-racist principles. One part of this process involves ensuring there are scientists who are experts in studying developmental processes and outcomes in marginalized and minoritized populations in our editorial processes as reviewers, editors, and members of our Publications Committee. But as we know, having a “seat at the table” is just one piece of the puzzle.

A critical self-examination of how we can disrupt racist paradigms—such as cultural deficit framing, exclusion of constructs that are salient to marginalized children and families, and implicitly or inadvertently positioning the development of White children as normative and those of Black, Indigenous, and children of color as not—in our pages is a matter of scientific integrity. This is necessary for good science. Our human population is diverse because we are living and thriving in families, neighborhoods, communities, and institutions with different historical and contemporary contexts, and human development is very much about learning and adapting to environmental demands. Generalizability from one population to another is an open empirical question. We need to have a valid, reliable and generalizable science in order to increase our understanding of child development in its diverse contexts.

We have already begun to evaluate and re-imagine how anti-racist principles can be woven throughout the work of producing among the very best scientific journals that are also exemplary in their capacity to disrupt scientific racism. As concrete examples, we are holding ourselves accountable by:

  • Having implemented a policy requiring authors to provide specific sociocultural information about the children, families, and communities in their studies;
  • Consulting and collaborating whenever possible with the Black, Latinx, Asian, and SOGIE Caucuses and the Ethnic and Racial Issues, Equity and Justice, and International Affairs Committees;
  • Evaluating the diversity/representation of scholars with expertise in marginalized populations and non-US regions of the world on our editorial boards;
  • Integrating issues of anti-racism, equity, and inclusion into the development of peer review standards;
  • Investigating systematic and institutional barriers to publication for junior scientists and marginalized scholars and scholarship; and
  • Developing a protocol for including indicators of anti-racism, equity, and inclusion in our assessment of the health of our journals.

In our editorial work and publications, SRCD is committed to promoting a fair process equally applied to all submissions. As part of a masked peer review process, we will ensure that  manuscripts will be assigned to reviewers with the necessary expertise and knowledge of the standards in each field. However, if, in the process, any problems arise that reflect bias or inequality, the reviewers, editors, and the SRCD Publications committee will make sure that these are rectified, so that all manuscripts—regardless of research question or population under study—are fairly evaluated.