Open Peer Reviewers in Africa: Nominations are now open to recruit future peer-review trainers across the continent

AfricArXiv, Eider Africa, eLife, PREreview, and the Training Centre in Communication (TCC Africa) invite nominations for researchers in the fields of life sciences and medicine who will help co-create and then disseminate resources promoting best open peer-review practices in Africa.
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AfricArXiv, Eider Africa, eLife, PREreview, and TCC Africa have collaborated to develop a peer-review training workshop, Open Peer Reviewers in Africa, tailored to the region-specific context of African researchers. They co-created tools and strategies for scholarly literature evaluation, and are now ready to pilot the new workshop series with researchers who would be interested in sharing their knowledge by training others, and helping co-develop the resources further.

The partners invite nominations for the pilot cohort of trainees for the Open Peer Reviewers in Africa workshop, who will then become the first trainers for researchers in their communities. Our training will be delivered as four tutored online sessions carried out virtually and in real-time. We are looking to recruit 10 trainees in the fields of life sciences and medicine, as this project is funded by Wellcome to help improve diversity and inclusion in those domains. The Trainer-of-Trainers (ToT) model will create a multiplier effect, as trainees will be encouraged and empowered to mobilise, recruit and train colleagues in their respective scholarly communities.

Joy Owango, Executive Director at TCC Africa, emphasises that, “Including a Training-of-Trainers workshop is essential in providing a sustainable approach in building the capacity of future African peer reviewers.”

All nominations should be submitted via our online nomination form by March 28, 2022.

We are looking forward to receiving nominations from research organisations and communities where researchers are keen to learn more about open peer-review practices and to review science openly, especially using the emergent opportunities through digital platforms such as PREreview to review preprints. Please contact us on community@elifesciences.org if you experience any difficulties with the nomination form.

What is expected of the trainees in the Open Peer Reviewers in Africa pilot workshop?

They will need to:

  • Abide by our Participation Guidelines;
  • Participate actively in four online-taught training sessions (every Thursday in April, 18:30–20:30 Eastern African Time/GMT+3; find your local time);
  • Complete approximately four hours’ worth of readings and coursework outside the taught sessions;
  • Offer reflections, feedback and suggestions on the course materials and delivery to help adapt the content to their communities’ needs;
  • Organise and deliver the full Open Peer Reviewers in Africa training to at least 10 scientists in their community (either in-person or online) by the end of August 31, 2022.

Who can be nominated as a trainee in the Open Peer Reviewers in Africa pilot workshop?

Nominees have to be:

  • Active biomedical researchers (that includes master and doctoral students), or professionals with a degree in the life sciences or medicine who work with life scientists (such as librarians, tutors or journal editors), and who have a keen interest in new, transparent processes of manuscript peer review.
  • African researchers currently based in a research institute or organisation in Africa.

It will help if the nominees have:

  • Access to a community of researchers where they will be able to offer the training once they complete their own;
  • Prior experience of organising and facilitating meetings or experience coaching, training or lecturing others;
  • Experience in conducting peer review (individually, as co-reviewers or as part of a journal club or editorial team), as well as experience in reading, depositing and/or evaluating manuscripts.

If you are unsure if the person you wish to nominate is eligible, you can contact us at community@elifesciences.org as soon as possible with your questions.

Can I apply directly?

Given that we are recruiting only 10 prospective trainers in this pilot, we decided to seek nominations rather than applications for this opportunity. We hope that this way trainers will have a better chance to have support from others in their organisation to deliver their own training when they are ready. That is why at this point we do not solicit direct applications. Instead, we encourage you to ask someone who knows you in a professional capacity (e.g., your lecturer, group leader, manager, or coordinator) to nominate you. To nominate you, they will need to submit a letter of consent from you (here is the Nominee Consent Letter Template), so you can have that ready when you approach them. Please note that we will only consider each nominee once, so there is no advantage in having multiple nominations.

Who can nominate a trainee for the Open Peer Reviewers in Africa pilot workshop?

Anyone who knows the nominee in a professional capacity can nominate them. You can be the nominee’s tutor, lecturer, supervisor or the group leader, as well as their line manager or dean of their institute. You might also supervise the nominee as a volunteer or trainer outside of their research institution, e.g., in a non-profit organisation where they pursue science communication, meeting facilitation, open science advocacy, or similar activity, or from their involvement in a scientific journal where they act as editors or reviewers.

How do I nominate someone for the Open Peer Reviewers in Africa pilot workshop?

Please use this nomination form. Completing it will take less than 10 minutes. Please attach a letter of consent (here is our Nominee Template Consent Form) from your nominee.

What are the benefits of participating in this pilot workshop?

  • The trainees will learn about the process of peer review in different contexts, mechanisms and biases that may prejudice their judgement as well as strategies for overcoming those;
  • They will practise formulating a constructive and fair evaluation of the latest literature and have an opportunity to co-author and publish a preprint review in the course of the workshop;
  • They will be equipped with tools and resources to be an effective trainer, learning about effective pedagogy that supports peer learning opportunities;
  • Each participant will receive a certificate of course completion;
  • Trainees will have the opportunity to contribute to the content of the workshop materials, and on that basis will be acknowledged as one of the workshop’s co-authors.

The workshop is funded by Wellcome. It aims to invite and equip a growing number of African researchers to facilitate the practice of peer review as a means of quality control in scholarly research, and especially in the emerging practice of open peer review on preprint manuscripts. By nominating your colleague, student or staff member to join this workshop, you open an opportunity for others in your community to access peer-to-peer learning experiences in the near future and invite them to take an active role in open scholarly peer review.

The first cohort of our trainees will further inform the development of our workshop. Once the resources are finalised, we will make those openly available to further support learning and adoption across researcher communities in Africa.

Daniela Saderi, PREreview Co-founder and Director, says: “This is the first of hopefully many more opportunities for us to partner with value-aligned organisations all involved in the adaptation of our existing Open Reviewers programme and co-creation of new resources to train the next generation of socially conscious peer reviewers.”

Kora Korzec, Head of Communities at eLife, who helps facilitate the project, says: “eLife has a well-established workshop to facilitate early-career researchers joining peer review in our journal. With the recent adoption of the preprint mandate, we now hope to encourage a new generation of research reviewers to join us – representative of the global research community, considerate and fair in their reviews, and interested to share those openly. I hope to extend an invitation to join that pool to newly trained Open Peer Reviewers in Africa soon.”

You can read more about the workshop in our previous announcement here.

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We welcome comments, questions and feedback. Please annotate publicly on the article or contact us at community@elifesciences.org

About AfricArXiv

AfricArXiv is a community-led digital archive for African research, working towards building an African-owned open scholarly repository; a knowledge commons of African scholarly works to catalyse the African Renaissance. We partner with established scholarly repository services to provide a platform for African scientists of any discipline to present their research findings and connect with other researchers on the African continent and globally. Find out more about AfricArXiv at https://info.africarxiv.org.

About Eider Africa

Eider Africa is an organisation that conducts research, co-designs and implements collaboratively, offline and online research mentorship programmes for scholars in Africa. We train mentors to start their mentorship programmes. We believe in peer-to-peer learning, learning research by practice, caring for the whole researcher and lifelong learning. We have grown a vibrant community of researchers in our research journal clubs and work with university lecturers to develop transformative inclusive research training. Learn more at https://eiderafricaltd.org.

About eLife

eLife transforms research communication to create a future where a diverse, global community of scientists and researchers produces open and trusted results for the benefit of all. Independent, not-for-profit and supported by funders, we improve the way science is practised and shared. From the research we publish, to the tools we build, to the people we work with, we’ve earned a reputation for quality, integrity and the flexibility to bring about real change. eLife receives financial support and strategic guidance from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Max Planck Society and Wellcome. Learn more at https://elifesciences.org/about.

About PREreview

PREreview is an open project fiscally sponsored by the non-profit organisation Code for Science and Society. Our mission is to bring more equity and transparency to the scholarly peer-review process. We design and develop open-source infrastructure to enable constructive feedback to preprints, we run peer review mentoring and training programmes, and we partner with like-minded organisations to organise events that provide opportunities for researchers to create meaningful collaborations and connections, defeating cultural and geographical barriers. Learn more about PREreview at https://prereview.org.

About the Training Centre in Communication (TCC Africa)

TCC Africa is the first African-based training centre to teach effective communication skills to scientists. TCC Africa is an award-winning Trust, established as a non-profit entity in 2006 and is registered in Kenya. TCC Africa provides capacity support in improving researchers' output and visibility through training in scholarly and science communication. Find out more about TCC Africa at https://www.tcc-africa.org/about.