What is the Gatekeeper Project?

The Gatekeeper Project is an attempt to crowdsource data collection on the composition of the Editorial Boards of academic journals. We seek to (1) understand how and why Editorial Board composition varies within and across disciplines and then (2) use these data to help scholars, academic societies, editors, and publishers in their efforts to make the Editorial Boards of our journals more inclusive and diverse.


The editorial boards of academic journals act as gatekeepers that are (in theory) supposed to help maintain the scientific integrity and standards of a journal as well as identify emerging and innovative areas of research. An invitation to serve as a Subject Editor is recognition that a scholar is respected in their discipline; it is also the path towards leadership positions because Associate Editors and Editors-in-Chief are typically selected from the Subject Editors. Serving on a board is also a means of advancing one’s scholarship, both by becoming aware of the latest advances in the field and gaining insights into the writing and publication process. Finally, editorial boards are important professional networks—in serving on a board one is able to develop relationships with reviewers, authors, and other editors. Serving on a board is therefore both an honor and a means of furthering one’s research and career.

Because gender, geography, and other demographic factors are known to influence the evaluation and citation of research findings, there have been a few attempts to quantify composition of editorial boards in a disparate collection of academic journals in different fields: the social sciences [1-3], business administration and management [4], information systems [5], medicine [6], and environmental biology [7]. It should come as no surprise that these studies generally find women are underrepresented on the Editorial Boards of journals, though you might be surprised how much variation there is within a field. However, comparing the composition of editorial boards across fields is hampered by inconsistencies in data collection and the labor intensive nature of the work.

Please join us! Every journal helps, and we are interested in all fields – Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Physical Sciences, Medicine, Business… Collecting these data is a great class or lab group project — in fact this started as a class project [7] — that encourages students to think about the many factors that influence the creation and diffusion of scholarship and is a perfect stage to launch discussions about the role of gender, ethnicity, and professional advancement in the academy.  You can read more about how to get involved here.

[NB: this is a soft launch of the Project – we’re test driving the site and process. Bear with us!]


[1] Addis E, Villa P. 2003. The editorial boards of Italian economics journals: women, gender, and social networking. Feminist Economics 9:75-91

[2] Green K. 1998. The gender composition of editorial boards in economics. Royal Economic Society Women’s Committee.

[3] Stark BL, Spielmann KA, Shears B, Ohnersorgen M. 1997. The gender effect on editorial boards and in academia. Bulletin of the Society for American Archeology 15(4)

[4] Metz I, Harzing A-W. 2012. An update of gender diversity in editorial boards: a longitudinal study of management journals. Personnel Review 41:283300

[5] Cabanac G. 2012. Shaping the landscape of research in information systems from the perspective of editorial boards: a scientometric study of 77 leading journals. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 63:977996

[6]Galley HF, Colvin LA. 2013. Next on the agenda: gender. British Journal of Anaesthesia 111:139142

[7] Cho AH, Johnson SA, Schuman CE, Adler JM, Gonzalez O, Graves SJ, Huebner JR, Marchant DB, Rifai SW, Skinner I, Bruna EM. (2014) Women are underrepresented on the editorial boards of journals in environmental biology and natural resource management. PeerJ 2:e542