I've posted in the past about (and cited) the Ripped Bodice's reports on racial diversity in romance publishing so I thought it was important to note that concerns have been raised about the methodologies used in their production.
We offer a critique of The Ripped Bodice’s State of Racial Diversity in Romance Publishing Report. With its lack of transparency, unethical, and unclear methodology, the diversity report leaves us with more questions than with answers. Though well-meaning, a study like this does a disservice to both publishers and BIPOC authors, while also setting a dangerous precedent of allowing poor ethics and poor data practices to run rampant in the romance community. In the last couple of years, we have seen the damaging effects of allowing misinformation in the media, so why are we still uncritically accepting a report that could be spreading misinformation to be published year after year? We urge The Ripped Bodice to do better and to carefully consider a few of the alternatives presented in this article.
In further comments on Twitter, Nick adds that:
We outline the ethical, transparency, and statistical issues & offer suggestions for alternatives. We didn't *want* to do this but their resounding silence in response to our Tweets/email/requests to view the raw data led us to believe that this needs further attention. We aren't saying what they are doing is unimportant, but the study needs to be conducted appropriately.
[Edited on 23 March 2021 to add more below.]
The Ripped Bodice have responded to the criticisms in detail here. Responses to their tweet about this can be found here, there's a list of tweets which respond by quote-tweeting it here, and I'm sure there are many other responses. Here's a tiny sample of some of them:
The Ripped Bodice has the attention of major news outlets. Television interviews. Huge articles. It’s time to push for more than just googling “Is AUTHOR NAME white?” or scrolling through social media. You have the platform, and you should strive for more than just this.— Jack | WIP: Parker (editing) (@JackHarbon) March 23, 2021
I don’t know much about statistics, but I do know publishing, and breaking things down by imprint would have definitely changed how some of these numbers look (cough Kensington cough segregated lines cough cough ahem).— Olivia Waite (@O_Waite) March 23, 2021
I don’t think the question is: “how can TRB improve their report?” I think the question is: what does knowing this info do to make an impact, and is it making that impact after 5yrs?— Shelf Love: The Podcast for Romance Nerds (@ShelfLovePod) March 23, 2021
I think we need to be more critical about WHY TRB thinks *they* need to keep doing this. Hint:
Yeah this is actually my only issue as well. https://t.co/aen8bhZaFZ— Katrina Jackson. TIREDT. (@katrinajax) March 23, 2021
That was part of the problem. So many white people didn't give a fuck. So again, critique away, but publishers still needs many someones to reminded them quarter after quarter that their discriminatory practices are not okay.— Rebekah Weatherspoon is writing a book. I swear. (@RdotSpoon) March 23, 2021
I'm not at all invalidating the follow up, but I'm still confused about the amount of energy being spent on this topic when "It's right but not rigorous" would suffice. And when I say I'm confused, I'm not being cute. It's actually distressing me because I don't understand.— Alyssa!!! on semi-hiatus (@AlyssaColeLit) March 23, 2021
Without real data, we don’t know how much publishing is sticking to their old shenanigans. White Latinx and Asian authors have ALWAYS made deals ahead of Black authors. Y’all just assume that because we make the most noise we benefit the most. pic.twitter.com/YiXqG5bJxc— ROSE & THORN (22k/90k) (@tashalharrison) March 23, 2021
and because the following has three tweets in sequence, I'm putting it in as an image rather than an embedded link, but it came from here:
This is Nick saying (at 1:47 pm · 24 Mar 2021 "I want to reiterate that NOWHERE in the article did we dismiss the conclusions of the report. I don't understand why people are twisting our words or putting words into our mouths but I guess I'll be more explicit here. We stated that this work IS important.
Trad publishing IS a mess. And they absolutely have a long way to go to truly bring equality and diversity to the industry. Clearly this "report" has done nothing to change anything majorly in the past 5 years.
So, why not bring changes to the actual report so that the bleak numbers can be taken more seriously by the industry because my perception (or suspicion) is that they are not at all taken seriously because publishers are aware of the issues?"