Meeting Report: Changing the culture of scholarly communication

eLife board member Dr. Prachee Avasthi led a lively evening debate in Cambridge, UK.
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On October 17, researchers were invited to join Dr. Prachee Avasthi, Assistant Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Kansas, USA, and eLife board member, at the Postdoc Centre @ Mill Lane where she explored the role of early-career researchers in changing the culture of scholarly communication.

Prachee’s talk focused on why in recent years, it is taking longer for students and postdocs to publish papers, the consequences of this and the publishing challenges for early-career researchers. To hear the discussion for yourself and find out more about what you can do to help, watch the video below:

Each one of us, individually, can make decisions and take steps to try and move things in a positive direction

Prachee encouraged the use of preprints, emphasising their benefits and the recent uptake within the life sciences. This was followed by a short talk from Katherine Brown, Executive Editor, and Mate Palfy, Community Manager, both from The Company of Biologists, who introduced their work on preprint aggregator preLights.

Here’s what they said you can do as an early-career researcher to promote change:

  • Introduce your Principal Investigator (PI), peers and/or students to preprints.
  • State your preference for early credit/feedback.
  • Participate in the culture of feedback by providing your own, both before and after journal publication.
  • Resist the urge to use journals as a proxy for quality. Select preprints or papers from a wide array of journals for journal clubs, and judge the work based on its own merits.
  • Promote policy change by asking journals about their preprint policy when submitting/reviewing.
  • Preprint your own work and get credit for grants and jobs.
  • Work together to promote change.

Prachee has long been an advocate for the involvement of early-career researchers in changing research communication. She set up a forum specifically for PIs, using the social networking platform Slack. Called New PI Slack, the forum allows members to discuss and support each other with various aspects of their careers, including grant feedback, mentorship advice and publication issues.

In her role as a member of eLife’s Board of Directors, Prachee brings the voice of early-career faculty members to the board and encourages further involvement of early-career scientists in every level of the organisation, including the journal’s review process.

She also has a long history of promoting and engaging with journal preprints and recently joined the Board of Directors for ASAPbio, a scientist-driven initiative to promote the productive use of preprints in the life sciences.

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

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