Call for Pitches: “When things don’t go to plan”

Tell us about what went wrong – and what came next.
Illustrator: @munafomarzia (CC BY 4.0)

Unexpected hiccups, enlightening setbacks, soul-crushing failures: all parts of the research process; all often carefully tucked away and made invisible.

Sparks of Change is an eLife collection that brings together snapshots of how research culture is changing. We are looking for stories about testing moments that forced you to reconsider your next steps, and how they may have ushered in new beginnings.

Whether these unexpected challenges took place in your personal or professional lives, we want to hear what this experience meant for you, your research and your community. Through these stories, we hope to open a discussion about the culture surrounding mistakes, disappointments, rejections and setbacks in science.

Deadline for pitches

This call for pitches originally ran until the end of Monday, April 4, 2022. However, if you're feeling inspired and think you have an interesting story to share about this or any other topic related to the changing culture of research, you can still share your idea with us via our form. You can also check here to see if we have other calls for pitches active.

What we’re looking for

Guidelines are available here. We’re looking for pitches of up to 250 words that will help us understand the story you want to share. The final articles will be short (about 800 words) first-person narratives which get readers immersed in an event that ignited change in the author’s life or those around them. This column is not for essays, opinion pieces or research publications (but these may be published as other article types in eLife). Please note that we cannot accept content that has been published elsewhere, or which overlaps greatly with already published articles.

Unsure about pitching to us?

Sparks of Change is for anyone and everyone with an interesting story to tell and the willingness to tell it, regardless of job title or seniority. We are especially interested in featuring stories from individuals from communities that are underrepresented in science and medicine. One of our dedicated editors will work closely with each selected author to shape their final piece and allow the story to shine through. You do not need to have been published previously to be considered, and you do not have to wait for your idea to be perfect before getting in touch.


We welcome comments, questions and feedback. Please annotate publicly on the article or contact us at sparks[at]elifesciences[dot]org.

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