eLife Latest: Welcoming our newest editors in Africa

Meet the 17 researchers in Africa who have just joined our editorial board.

Today we're excited to welcome 17 scientists based across Africa to our editorial board. Spanning nine African countries – Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda – our new editors join us following our second-ever open call for self-nominations for Reviewing Editors. They will now work alongside eLife Senior Editors to help implement our new model of publishing, which combines the immediacy and openness of preprints with the scrutiny of rigorous review by experts.

Among our new editors, Frankline Wirsiy says, “As an epidemiologist and global health security professional from Cameroon, I'm excited to serve as an eLife Reviewing Editor. I look forward to promoting rigorous peer review, and impactful research dissemination while fostering open science and open access, particularly among early-career researchers in Africa.”

Omowumi Kayode is a group leader at Mountain Top University in Nigeria with research interests in nutritional and reproductive biochemistry. Kayode says, "I am excited to assume my new role, and aim to encourage other African women scientists to engage with peer review at respected and innovative journals like eLife, to broaden career horizons and have a meaningful impact."

Thabiso Motaung – who studies how plants and fungi interact at a molecular level at the University of Pretoria, South Africa – says, “Inspired by eLife's unwavering dedication to advancing scientific knowledge through open science, a cause I hold dear, I am excited to now collaborate with brilliant minds and make meaningful contributions to the scientific community across Africa and beyond.”

Bamidele Owoyele, from the University of Ilorin in Nigeria, adds, "I applied because I admire eLife's new model, especially the chance to review reprints and offer constructive feedback to authors that will be shared with readers. eLife is already renowned for its innovative practices, and I'm thrilled to be part of the team.”

This second open call followed a design established for our successful 2022 open call in Latin America, which was developed through collaboration with eLife editors and members of our Early-Career Advisor Group and refined in consultation with other eLife community members in Africa. This year we focused on Africa due to the historical underrepresentation of this region within our editorial board. Before this initiative, less than 1% of our Board of Reviewing Editors were based in Africa (0.6%); a statistic that has now grown to 3%.

The open call ran from May to July 2023, and we received a total of 36 eligible applications from 10 African countries. Eligible applications underwent an anonymous review process by a committee of eLife editors and early-career advisors, in which each applicant was assessed by at least one reviewer in Africa. This initial evaluation primarily focused on the candidate's enthusiasm for the role and alignment with eLife's mission, their prior experience in peer review, and their capacity to deliver clear and constructive feedback.

Following this first round of review, 25 applicants (69%) were put forward to eLife's Senior and Deputy Editors to evaluate their scientific expertise and contributions to quality science. This process selected 18 successful candidates to invite to join eLife’s editorial board, though one candidate later withdrew their application.

The overall success rate for eligible applicants was 50%. However, this rate varied between groups as described below, resulting in a less diverse cohort than we had initially hoped. Despite targeted communications and outreach, in particular we fell short of our representation goals related to gender and geographic diversity. We acknowledge that these differences likely have complicated origins, including systemic biases and additional pressures faced by individuals with intersectional identities which limit their access to opportunities that would help demonstrate their potential as editors. Nonetheless, we are still pleased to welcome our newest editors and remain committed to further exploring how we can continue to enrich eLife’s editorial board with diverse perspectives in the future.

  • Over half of the eligible applicants (53%) and new editors (56%) self-identify as a member of a minority or underrepresented group based on their race or ethnicity, compared to about one in five (21%) for existing Reviewing Editors.
  • The success rate for eligible applicants who self-identified as a member of a minority or underrepresented group based on their race or ethnicity (56%) was slightly above the average for all the applicants (50%).
  • Women were underrepresented among the candidates (20% of eligible applicants) compared to the rest of the editorial board (41%), and were also almost half as likely as men to be selected as new Reviewing Editors (with success rates of 29% and 57%, respectively).
  • While researchers in Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) made up over two-thirds of eligible applicants (69%), researchers in Northern Africa or South Africa were more than twice as likely as researchers in Sub-Saharan Africa to be selected as new Reviewing Editors (with success rates of 83% and 80% compared to 36% respectively).
  • Finally, while early-career researchers were less successful in their applications than their more senior peers (success rates of 36% compared to 56%), they are much better represented among these new editors, making up 22% of successful applicants compared to 9% of the rest of our editorial board.

Our new Reviewing Editors include:

  • Anand Krishnan, University of the Free State, South Africa
  • Bamidele Owoyele, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
  • Christopher Ealand, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Clara Akpan, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Nigeria
  • Emmanuel Lamptey, KAAF University College, Ghana
  • Frankline Wirsiy, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Amref Health Africa, Cameroon
  • Gyaviira Nkurunungi, MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit, Uganda
  • Izuchukwu Okafor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria
  • Karim Fifel, Faculty of Medical Science, UM6P, Morocco
  • Marlon Cerf, South African Medical Research Council, South Africa
  • Michael Tomori, National Open University of Nigeria, Nigeria
  • Musa Ali, Hawassa University, Ethiopia
  • Omowumi Kayode, Mountain Top University, Nigeria
  • Salem Youssef Mohamed, Zagazig University, Egypt
  • Sameh Ali, Children's Cancer Hospital Egypt, Egypt
  • Thabiso Motaung, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Warren Andrew Andayi, Murang'a University of Technology, Kenya

Other eLife editors in Africa currently include:

  • Bavesh Kana (Senior Editor), University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Alex Sigal (Reviewing Editor), Africa Health Research Institute, South Africa
  • Chima Nwaogu (Reviewing Editor), University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Joseph Raimondo (Reviewing Editor), University of Cape Town, South Africa

Questions and comments are welcome. Please feel free to comment here or via email: edi [at] elifesciences [dot] org. Anonymous feedback may also be shared via this form.

Project led by:
Millicent McConnell, eLife Editorial Manager
Stuart King, eLife Research Culture Manager


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