eLife supports PREreview’s new peer review mentoring program for early-career researchers

The two initiatives are collaborating on a project by PREreview to help instruct and support early-career researchers in scholarly review.
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eLife is pleased to announce that it is supporting PREreview to pilot an interactive peer review mentoring program that empowers early-career researchers to contribute to scholarly review.

PREreview Open Reviewers is designed by the team behind PREreview.org, a platform for the crowdsourcing of preprint reviews, to support early-career researchers to build their profile as socially conscious, constructive peer reviewers. To bring focus on barriers in scientific participation, the program will facilitate discussions with both mentors and mentees about how intersecting systems of oppression, such as racism, sexism and colonialism, manifest within the global scientific enterprise. Mentees will be guided by their mentors in writing and posting preprint reviews that will be published with a digital object identifier. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to network with peers from across the world, and with journal editors and more senior researchers in their field.

eLife aims to transform research communication through improvements to science publishing, technology and research culture. The organisation invests in research culture in a variety of ways that involve working closely with early-career researchers. These include establishing standards for diversity and inclusion across the organisation and increasing the involvement of early-career researchers on the journal’s editorial board and reviewer pool.

In a similar vein, PREreview's mission is to bring more diversity to scholarly peer review by supporting and empowering communities of researchers, particularly those at early stages of their career and historically underrepresented in scholarship, to review preprints in a process that is rewarding to them.

“If this model works for training peer reviewers as it has for training leaders in open science, it could have a big impact on peer review,” says Jennifer Gibson, eLife Head of Open Research Communication. “At scale, it has the potential to improve peer review across many dimensions – including the tone and focus of the comments and the richness of the reviewing pool. We would be pleased to see the PREreview community grow as a trusted source for reviews in preprints and are happy to support them.”

PREreview Open Reviewers started in October 2020, and will continue to the end of June 2021. The pilot defines four ‘Stages of Engagement’, where early-career researchers enter as review trainees in stage one, become advanced trainees and advanced reviewers in stages two and three, and gain the experience they need in peer review to become review mentors in stage four. The program can be entered by a researcher at any stage depending on their experience with writing manuscript reviews.

“We're excited to pilot the PREreview Open Reviewers program with eLife’s support to help train, support and empower the next generation of diverse peer reviewers,” says Samantha Hindle, PREreview's co-founder and Open Reviewers Program Lead.

“Through the program, we hope to offer equal opportunities for early-career researchers to access mentorship-based training in peer review, with a focus on promoting racial and global diversity and inclusion in scholarship. We look forward to seeing how it develops following the pilot,” adds Antoinette Foster, Peer Review Mentoring Program Developer at PREreview.


The pilot is also supported by Mozilla, with a framework based on Mozilla’s Open Leaders program.

eLife would like to acknowledge the members of its community involved in the pilot. These include mentors and Senior Editors Kenton Swartz (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH, US), Gary Westbrook (Vollum Institute, US) and Laura Colgin (University of Texas at Austin Center for Learning and Memory, US), and Reviewing Editor Daniela Robles-Espinosa (International Laboratory for Human Genome Research, Mexico).

Mentees from the eLife pool of early-career reviewers include Ethel Bayer Santos (University of Sao Paulo, Brazil), Pablo Ripolles (New York University, US), Hong-yuan Chu (Center for Neurodegenerative Science, Van Andel Research Institute, US) and Chao Xu (University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, US).

For more information about PREreview Open Reviewers, visit https://content.prereview.org/programs.

To find out more about Mozilla Open Leaders, see https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/initiatives/open-leadership-events/vault/open-leaders

And to learn more about the eLife early-career reviewer pool, visit https://elifesciences.org/inside-elife/31a5173b/elife-promotes-early-career-involvement-in-peer-review.

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eLife is a non-profit organisation created by funders and led by researchers. Our mission is to accelerate discovery by operating a platform for research communication that encourages and recognises the most responsible behaviours. We work across three major areas: publishing, technology and research culture. We aim to publish work of the highest standards and importance in all areas of biology and medicine, while exploring creative new ways to improve how research is assessed and published. We also invest in open-source technology innovation to modernise the infrastructure for science publishing and improve online tools for sharing, using and interacting with new results. eLife receives financial support and strategic guidance from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Max Planck Society and Wellcome. Learn more at https://elifesciences.org/about.