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Diversifying Toolkit for Staff

A guide to assist with the work of diversifying resources used in teaching. Designed to help academic staff begin assessing the readings they already use to make their curriculum more inclusive.

How to use this guide

The outline of three faces in profile are visible against a bookshelf containing a rainbow of books. The spine of the book in the centre reads 'Edinburgh University Libraries' and at the bottom of the image text reads 'decolonising & diversifying''We intend for this guide to provide a starting place for academics wishing to begin the work of diversifying their reading lists and teaching resources. We hope that the materials in this guide will provide useful readings and points for discussion with colleagues.

You may also find resources in the following guides to be helpful in considering relevant social issues for your students:


Disability Studies |  Gender & Sexuality Studies |  Race & Decolonial Studies Widening Participation

Decolonizing the Curriculum: Articles

You may be interested in consulting the Resource Lists that have been compiled by Library staff on:

The following articles provide an introduction to the idea of decolonising and diversifying reading lists and Library collections, as part of Decolonising the Curriculum, and may provide useful points for consideration when beginning this work:

Auditing Your Resource List

Auditing a Resource List can be a useful way of determining the diversity of listed sources. 

The following step-by-step audit process guidance provides a process for identifying and graphically representing the characteristics of a Resource List in terms of the ethnicity and gender of authors and the geographic location, publisher type, material type, format, and date of publication of sources. 

The guidance uses the audit method and data collection spreadsheet developed by the Library at Manchester Metropolitan University and made available to empower others to undertake audits of reading lists.

Audit process


Step 1: Download the Diversity Audit Template using the link above. 

Step 2: Login to Resource Lists and search for your list by title, course title, or course code. Go to Reading list options menu (the three horizontal dots on the top right of the list) and select Export>To Excel to download spreadsheet containing all citations on the list.

Step 3: Using the spreadsheet downloaded in step 2, copy and paste the item type, title, and publisher of each item into the corresponding columns of the diversity audit template. Add remaining details (format, importance, publisher type, and geographic place of publication) using information from the spreadsheet and the links & availability and reading importance tags on the Resource List.

Step 4: By searching online, identify the gender and ethnicity of each author listed in the diversity audit template. You may need to consult university and publisher websites and Google Images for biographical details about authors and publisher and place of publication information.

It should be noted that in most instances you will be making subjective judgments based on limited information. If you are uncertain or uncomfortable making a judgment, or information is unavailable, select “unknown” on the audit spreadsheet dropdown box.

Step 5: Add any remaining information to the spreadsheet, then select the Data Visualisation tab, click on a graph, select PivotChart Analyse from the ribbon, and click on Refresh. This will populate the graphs with information relating to the ethnicity and gender of authors and the geographic location, publisher type, material type, format, and date of publication of items on your Resource List. 

Please note: If you are interested in finding out about how to find diverse readings by using search techniques, online resources, and publisher lists, explore the Searching for Diverse Literature and Global Research Databases sections of this page.

Searching for Diverse Literature

Finding literature by authors from specific countries

Watch the 5-minute long video below to find out how to use the Web of Science database to locate journal articles on particular topics written by authors from specific countries. This can be useful for academic staff looking to add releavant literature from the Global South to their Resource Lists. 


Global Research Databases

Top Tips

Not sure where to start? Here's some top tips for beginning the process of diversifying your reading list.

Engage with all that's available from the library

  1. Ask for help from the library. Your Academic Support Librarian is a great person to ask for help. See: ASLs by subject area.
  2. Explore heritage collections held in the University's Centre for Research Collections  and our huge range of digital resources: discover the full range of collections that are available to support diverse teaching and research opportunities. See: Centre for Research CollectionsLibrary databases.
  3. Use audiovisual resources : many students prefer accessing information from a variety of media sources, which are often more inclusive of emerging voices. See: Video resources.
  4. Engage with open access publications (including grey literature). See Open Content  | Grey Literature. The OER team at Edinburgh run workshops on the topic of Diversifying the curriculum with open education - contact them for more information about the support on offer. 
  5. Use the EDI Subject Guides to find more inclusive resources: Disability Studies |  Gender & Sexuality Studies |  Race & Decolonial Studies | Widening Participation.

Question your reading list

  1. Look again at the academic textbook choices: a majority of academic textbooks are written by authors from the Global North.
  2. Look at a range of different publishers: be inclusive of independent publishers and those which centre marginalised voices.
  3. Go beyond traditional academic sources to include a range of alternative media such as zines, blogs and websites.
  4. Widen the scope of authors included in your reading list by focusing on a range of geographical regions.

Co-create interventions with students

  1. Staff-Student discussion on the disciplinary canon, areas of exclusion, and alternative narratives can be hugely beneficial. Ask them who they think is missing from the discussion, and work together to find resources that will broaden the scope available. 
  2. Ask students to critique your reading list and suggest new content from their own research to add to the Resource List for your course. We've included some suggestions on useful resources for students in this guide including a Reading List Audit activity.
  3. Encourage students to recommend books for the library to purchase: Student Request-a-book.
  4. Create a padlet or other interactive storyboard to allow students to leave feedback on their reading list and to share additional resources. See this example from the University of Kent.

Content in this section of the guide has been adapted from AEM Toolbox, University of the Arts London, under a Creative Commons Licence: CC BY-NC 4.0 Attribution. 

What does diversifying really mean?

Although there has been a lot of talk about the decolonising of the university and curricula, it is important to remember that inclusivity means considering more than just race bias. Have you considered gender, class, or disability when selecting your course materials? Some of the following resources may help you explore these issues further. 

Student resources for critical evaluation of sources

The Academic Support Librarian team have created a variety of resources that we think will be of use to students in critically appraising bias in their assigned readings. These resources have been designed to encourage students to consider historical biases which have shaped the way knowledge is disseminated and to feel confident as independent learners by going beyond their reading list.

Downloadable Resources for the Classroom

Screenshot of the title page from the Diversifying Your Reading: An Introduction to Source Criticism slides

Guides and Training for Students

CRER resources

Cover image for Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights guide to 'Introduction to anti-racist curriculum Development: a guide for teachers in Scotland'. The image has an ochre background with the title at the top of the page in white. There is an image of two school children (one with brown skin, one with white) with their arms around each other.

CRER's Introduction to Anti-Racist Curriculum Development is designed for teachers at secondary schools in Scotland, but many of the resources are valuable for teaching at any level. 

CRER is a Scottish strategic anti-racist organisation. Their mission is to protect, enhance and promote the rights of Black/minority ethnic communities across all areas of life in Scotland and to strengthen the social, economic and political capital of Black/minority ethnic communities, especially those at greatest risk of disadvantage. They work with activists, grassroots and third sector organisations, academia, Scottish Government and other public sector organisations to create change. To find out more, visit their website.

What are other universities and institutions doing?

We know there is lots of good work taking place around the UK focusing on improving practices across HE and within cultural institutions. Some of the following may provide inspiration on how to begin conversations within your own schools or departments. 

EDI Calendar

Feedback and Contact us

Two tiles with faces, arms and legs are holding picket signs. One shows a thumbs up and one a thumbs down. We'd love to hear any suggestions you have for this or any of our other EDI focused content. If you know of books, articles, videos or podcasts you think we should add to our guides, let us know! You can contribute to our Padlet here.

If you'd like to speak to us directly about anything mentioned in this toolkit or you'd like to be involved in helping us review or test future resources before they go live, you can find the Academic Support Librarian for your subject area via the links on this page:

ASL by subject area

Alternatively you can email our team using the following link which will direct your call to our Unidesk mailbox. One of our colleagues from the EDI working group will pick up the call from there and get back to you: