Researchers and References

Studies in bibliometrics have revealed persistent biases in citation patterns — women and people of colour, for instance, garner citations at lower rates than men do. An increasing number of researchers are calling on academics to acknowledge the inequities in citational practices — and, by paying more heed to work from groups that are typically under-cited, take action to reduce them. Some are referring to this idea as ‘citational ethics’ or ‘citational justice’ (Kwon, 2022).

While finding diversity in referenced academic journal articles and other published research may be difficult, please do what’s possible to consider it. This may be easier in some disciplines than others. We recognise that diversity in academia is far behind where it should be, which impacts the opportunities you have to represent all populations in OER.


  • Recognise key contributors from all backgrounds, and ensure real-world examples are diverse.
  • Determine if referenced papers or data have been sourced from diverse authors, researchers, and organisations.

Actions and Considerations

  • Assess the diversity of key contributors and, if lacking, seek further contributors to broaden diversity.
  • When historical figures in a field lack diversity, balance their contributions with more current and diverse contributors.
  • Include examples of and references to historically underrepresented groups such as women contributors to Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine (STEM), where women are underrepresented despite their significant contributions.
  • Where key/historical figures are not diverse, include current, more diverse researchers/figures for balance.
  • Avoid isolating diverse contributors to specific sections – i.e., “multicultural impacts on Psychology.”
  • Where diversity is lacking, suggest more diverse references, papers, and data sources.
  • If you include less formal, in-text mentions of specific researchers or studies, these should be as diverse as possible.
  • Include a citation diversity statement or a statement of positionality.

Acknowledge Limited Perspectives

If you chose to develop the content yourself, rather than consult colleagues or recruit co-authors, consider including a disclaimer acknowledging your background wherever applicable – for example at the end of chapters addressing issues related to gender, gender identity, sexuality, race, culture or religion. This will show that you’re:

  • aware of any biases or blind spots
  • are trying to address them
  • are open to feedback.

For example:

‘I [Name], the author of this work, am a [description of gender identity/sexuality/race/religion/gender, etc. – e.g. cisgender white woman] from [country]. I have not experienced the types of bias that affect those from marginalised backgrounds related to race, cultural background and sexual orientation. I have tried to keep this chapter simple and to link out to external resources whenever applicable, however, there may be cases where my writing betrays my lack of experience with these topics.

If there is any part of this book you find to be one-sided or dismissive of any aspect of your identity, please contact me at [insert email address]. I welcome any comments or feedback that might improve my work and help inform my own understanding of this topic. Thank you.’

Resources and readings



  • Citational politics in tight places: How might we improve citational politics in “tight places” where not only the norms of citation but also the structure of knowledge or research overdetermines what might be done? Or does it?
  • The researchers that search engines make invisible: Searches not only make some things apparent…but they can also make things invisible.
  • Firsting in Research: Declaring that a research project is the “first” to discover something is not only rarely correct, given the myriad local knowledges operating since time immemorial, but is also imperialist and colonial.

Copyright note: This section has been adapted in part from:

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