Broaden the diversity
BPS updates, Equality, diversity and inclusion

Broaden the diversity

Rachel Sangster highlights some initiatives the BPS is undertaking to improve diversity in psychology.

02 February 2024

By Ella Rhodes

Psychology has always been WEIRD. Its experiments are largely conducted with participants who are from Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic nations – a group which represents a small percentage of the world’s population. The British Psychological Society is attempting to address some of these issues in its academic publications using a number of approaches.

BPS Academic Publications Manager Rachel Sangster told us that in one initiative, the Society is piloting the introduction of Diversity Data Statements on BPS journals to encourage researchers to contextualise their research and consider the breadth of their participant samples in studies. These statements point out that the diversity of participants should reflect the community who researchers aim to benefit through the outcomes of their studies.

Where authors’ participants do come from majority groups (e.g. WEIRD groups) the statement asks authors to explain how they attempted to broaden the diversity of their samples and explain why the representation of minority groups in samples matters. Authors are also asked to point out any limitations of their participant samples which could include race, ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, country of residence and socioeconomic status.

‘We are also planning work to encourage more lay summaries of research in journal articles to widen the accessibility of all the work published.’

In 2023, the BPS built an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Framework for its academic publications. Sangster said this was to ensure an awareness of EDI was embedded in its work so that the publications could be as welcoming and inclusive as possible, while helping to advance a more equitable future. ‘In support of this initiative, the EDI Board has set up an EDI Publications Advisory Group. EDI needs to be central not only to our journals but also to the BPS’s books programme and our member network periodicals. For example, the new BPS Core Textbooks carry a strong focus on all aspects of diversity and an understanding of the value of multiple perspectives. As such, proposals are reviewed by the EDI Publications Advisory Group (alongside the standard peer-review process), and we have set up a BPS Student Review Panel to comment on representation from the student perspective.’

Recently the American Psychological Association (APA) published new guidelines [see tinyurl.com/mcuee4ap to address the historical stigmatisation, marginalisation, and erasure of people of colour in psychological research. It gives guidance to academics on the information relating to race, ethnicity and culture that should be included in manuscripts.

Among the advice is a recommendation to include acknowledgements of any heterogeneity in samples of participants, to point out any problems with using frameworks which were not designed with certain groups in mind, and to bear in mind the identities of authors of cited studies.