Advocating for early career researchers

Brianne Kent, chair of the eLife Early Career Advisory Group, provides an update on progress supporting ECR development at eLife.

From the very start, the eLife initiative has tried to build a platform and community that supports early career researchers (ECR). This commitment was outlined in one of the initial editorials (Schekman et al., 2013) and in a recent update (Patterson and Schekman, 2018), emphasizing how ECR and in particular, how the Early Career Advisory Group (ECAG) has shaped eLife. The ECAG was formed in 2014 to provide eLife with the unique perspective of graduate students, postdocs and newly-independent group leaders. As a group we have offered feedback to eLife as policies and practices were in development and have suggested new ideas for how eLife can best serve ECR as well as how eLife can help reform scientific publishing and science culture more broadly. Over the past four years, eLife policies have been refined and ECAG has successfully launched several initiatives to support the ECR community, such as the Early Career Review Pool and #ECRWednesday webinar series.

This year we launched the eLife Ambassador Program, which recruited over 150 researchers from around the world to help expand the reach of eLife and ECAG initiatives. The ambassadors have taken on ten specific causes including reproducibility, open access, peer review, preprints, career development, and diversity. Each cause has a designated ECAG member to help facilitate the group, and the projects are off to a great start. The enthusiasm and fresh ideas from the Ambassadors are already pushing for positive change in science around the globe and we are excited to see what the Ambassadors accomplish in the next coming months.

In addition to the Ambassador Program, the early career reviewer pool is building momentum. At our 2017 AGM, we identified one of the biggest challenges to getting more ECR formally involved in peer-review is that editors do not know enough ECR with the necessary expertise. To help overcome this challenge, we are setting up an open database of individuals willing to undertake peer review. At eLife specifically, we are also experimenting with a policy to include one ECR on every peer-review conducted in the Evolutionary Biology stream.  If successful, this may be expanded to other topics at eLife as well.

Other new early career initiatives launching this year include Reproducibility Workshops being held at select conferences, a funding database for ECRs and travel grants, and turning our webinar series into podcasts. Follow @eLifeCommunity on Twitter to keep up-to-date with the ECAG initiatives.

 

 

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