Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Introducing the eLife Global South Committee for Open Science

The newly-formed Global South Committee for Open Science will advise eLife on how best to promote equitable collaboration and inclusion.

Researchers from the Global South are often underrepresented and minoritised in scientific publishing. It can be disenfranchising and exclusionary, even when it isn’t intended to be. And if you’re in a lower-income or less-developed region, prevailing structures, systems and mindsets can make it harder for you to participate in or benefit from innovations in scientific communication.

Our new model has the potential to make publishing a more inclusive enterprise, offering the benefits of scholarly review while giving authors more agency in the publishing process. To fulfil that potential, we need coordinated efforts and to hear from the communities most impacted by the inequity in the status quo.

We’ve therefore set up the eLife Global South Committee for Open Science to learn directly from our peers in the Global South, so that we can strive to overcome these barriers in the pursuit of inclusive, equitable and more diverse scientific communications.

“eLife’s new publishing model has the potential to dramatically improve the inclusivity of the publishing ecosystem. However this will not happen on its own, and we will need guidance and advice from scientists around the globe to understand how we can support their needs. The Global South Committee members all bring immense insight and expertise, and we are excited to start working with them to make sure our model is genuinely representative of the global scientific community. “ – Damian Pattinson, Executive Director, eLife

The Global South Committee for Open Science brings together researchers from countries and territories that share characteristics with regard to socioeconomics, politics, limited representation and policy influence on key issues and who are therefore often minoritised. This group provides a dedicated space to work with eLife towards greater involvement within science communication and innovation. The group will be a pillar of guidance in improving the chances of Global South researchers and increase eLife’s outreach and support in the regions.

“Although open science and open access have made progress, enhancing diversity is crucial to fully realise their potential. The Communities team sees its role as critical in expanding eLife’s reach by collaborating with and addressing community-specific challenges, using local insights. I eagerly anticipate working with the dedicated founding members to effect meaningful change incrementally.” – Godwyns Onwuchekwa, Head of Communities, eLife

“I'm immensely proud to be working alongside such a diverse group of esteemed academics, whose insights into the regional state of open-access publishing have already deepened our understanding of the barriers faced by our peers in the Global South. The founding members’ breadth of experience, scope of ambition and demonstrable passion to positively impact research practices and awareness is truly inspiring, and I look forward to working with the group to help realise these ambitions.“ – Shane Alsop, Community Manager – Outreach, eLife

Aims and goals

With the help of our committee, we hope to raise awareness of – and increase engagement with – important aspects for the growth of open research and publication practices. The committee's goals include, but are not limited to:

  • Improving the prospects of Global South researchers in science communication
  • Amplifying the voices of Global South researchers in science publishing and communication
  • Increasing eLife’s outreach and support in the Global South
  • Exploring avenues to increase the use of preprints
  • Increasing awareness of open publishing and review practices, as well as open science in general
  • Increasing recognition of open research and open publishing in research evaluation in the Global South

Hear from our pioneering members

The 10 initial members are passionate advocates of open science, open access and equity, diversity, and inclusion in science. In accordance with the committee’s scope, our membership spans Africa, many parts of Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific Islands.

Olavo Amaral is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Medical Biochemistry Leopoldo de Meis of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. After 15 years of working as a neuroscientist, he currently works on meta-research applied to improving research transparency and reproducibility. He coordinates the Brazilian Reproducibility Initiative and the Brazilian Reproducibility Network.

Olavo says: “I think there are many lessons to be learned among countries in the Global South about how to best promote open science practices in local contexts. I hope this committee can help countries in these regions to develop policies that foster open practices, both by increasing education and awareness and by reforming incentives to researchers.”

Mahaletchumy Arujanan is the Global Coordinator of ISAAA; Executive Director of Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre (MABIC); and founding Editor-in-Chief of The Petri Dish ­– the first science newspaper in Malaysia. With a PhD in Science Communication and background in microbiology and biotechnology, Maha pioneered science communication initiatives in the Global South. This earned her a place in the list of the world’s 100 most influential people in biotechnology by Scientific American Worldview 2015, and the honorific list of Women in Biotechnology Law and Regulation as part of the Biotechnology Law Report 2015. Maha won the 2010 Third World Academy of Science Regional Prize for Public Understanding of Science for the East, Southeast Asia and Pacific Region.

Maha wants to make science communication a mainstream discipline in the Global South.

Humberto Debat is a Virologist at the National Institute of Agricultural Technology of Argentina, and studies the interface between pathogens and crops from a systems biology perspective. Humberto is also a member of the Advisory Committee on Open and Citizen Science at the Ministry of Science of Argentina, an affiliate of bioRxiv, and a co-developer of PanLingua, a multilingual preprint search and reading tool. Humberto received the 2023 Konex Award for the 100 most outstanding personalities of the last decade in science and technology in Argentina (2013–2022).

Humberto, in his role on this committee, will persist in advocating for and fostering initiatives originating from the Global South, with a particular emphasis on Latin America, aimed at enhancing scholarly communications as a public good and for the collective benefit.

DINE Roseline Dzekem is a female Cameroonian based in Rwanda. She is a Social Scientist and Public Health Specialist at Rinda Ubuzima, Kigali-Rwanda. Roseline’s broad professional interest is helping to improve public/global health, advance open science and access, and inform policy to shape equitable, responsible and beneficial participation in health and biomedical scientific activities, especially in Africa.

Roseline says: “My overall goal as member of eLife Global South Advisory Committee for Open Science is to contribute towards advancing the acceptance, demand and uptake of open science and access in African, other Global South communities and the rest of the world through strategic but deliberate actions.”

Mikhail Henry is an emerging microbiologist and researcher with an academic background in microbial sciences including genetics and bioinformatics. He studied at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, and the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, which gives him a diverse and enriched perspective in various aspects of microbiology. He has accumulated substantial professional experience in project monitoring and evaluation, predominantly within the realm of development and advocacy projects. Mikhail has contributed significantly to various organisations’ project tracking, reporting and data management, enhancing programme effectiveness. Mikhail is a dedicated scientist committed to advancing the field of microbiology and making a positive impact on public health.

Muhammad Maqsud Hossain serves as the Director of the NSU Genome Research Institute (NGRI) and is an Associate Professor of Bioinformatics at North South University, Bangladesh. He earned his PhD in Bioinformatics from the University of Nottingham in 2015, and his research integrates genomics and machine learning to study pathogens such as cholera, SAR-CoV2 and ESKAPE. Passionate about advancing scientific knowledge, Maqsud is dedicated to fostering collaborative research and bioinformatics education. He also actively engages the public, frequently leveraging platforms like YouTube to share lectures and insights.

Maqsud says: “I am deeply committed to championing the cause of Open Science. Serving on the eLife Global South Advisory Committee not only aligns with my passion but also empowers me to advance open access science both in developing nations and globally.”

Nurul Izzati is a lecturer of Molecular Biology in the Biotechnology department of Sumbawa University of Technology, Indonesia. Her background as a Chemist and Biotechnologist brought her to begin her academic journey as a synthetic biology and biochemistry enthusiast, and her current research focuses on mining biotechnological gene clusters from actinobacteria - especially for the next generation of antibiotics. Nurul actively promotes synthetic biology, and has founded a national community in the field. She joined the eLife Ambassador programme in 2023 to help strengthen open science initiatives in Indonesia and Asian countries.

Nurul says: “As part of the committee, I am committed to communicate the science and empower the scientific communication among Indonesian societies and other Asian countries. Transparency, collaboration and inclusivity will be the main keys to make science more accessible.”

Izuchukwu Azuka Okafor, an embryologist and researcher at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria, teaches anatomy to medical and allied-health students and has published 40+ scientific articles and books. He's also a co-founder and project manager of the Lifeporté Educational Project, which focuses on science engagement and advocacy, and is currently part of a global team (Public Health Africa) that focuses on the development of infrastructure, capacity building, and advocacy for open science in Africa. Additionally, Izuchukwu is involved with Open Science Community Nigeria (OSCN), aiming to promote open-science practices, build trust in science, and advance scientific knowledge for the future.

Izuchukwu says: “I am passionate about driving initiatives that will increase the adoption, uptake and implementation of open-science practices in Africa, especially among students and early-career scientists who are the future of science in Africa.”

Mercury Shitindo is a researcher and Bioethicist with over 18 years’ progressive management experience. She is a key founder and Chairperson of Africa Bioethics Network. She serves on the BCA-WA-ETHICS II Project Advisory Board, and the Program Quality Committee at Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET). She established the African Journal of Bioethics where she is an editor. She is an alumna of WCG IRB International Fellows Program, an Open Peer Reviewer trainer of trainers and an Ethics Course Developer who promotes human rights and dignity in all aspects of life with general benefits to African society.

Mercury says: “As a pioneer committee member, my vision is to empower researchers in underserved regions, break down barriers to scientific communication, and amplify the voices of scientists from the Global South.”

Chayasith (Tao) Uttamapinant is a chemical and synthetic biologist with a broad interest in biomolecular detection. He leads a research group at Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology (VISTEC), Thailand, focusing on developing new tools for the characterization of locally synthesized proteins and proteoforms; plastic bioremediation; and point-of-care molecular diagnostics. A major part of his team’s effort moving forward is to create local open resources for biomolecular reagents, particularly for synthetic biology and infectious disease surveillance. Tao joined the eLife Ambassador programme in 2022 to help promote open science initiatives in Thailand and Southeast Asia.

Tao says: “I would like science to be more equitable through open science, and progress to the most pressing scientific challenges to be made from all around the world, particularly from the Global South.”

The future of the committee

When operating at full capacity, the committee will comprise a complement of 16–20 members. The inaugural 10 committee members will inform our approach to recruiting the remaining members. To ensure stability in the group’s operation, the core members will also determine how best to recruit new members when current members' service terms end. We currently have not reached gender parity on the membership as we would have liked to. This is an ongoing work and we are committed to ensuring balance in an upcoming open call later this year, where we shall put greater emphasis on this issue.

“Together, we will champion inclusive and equitable access to knowledge, fostering transparency, collaboration, and accessibility in research; the mission is not just a compass; it's a call to action, aligning eLife's efforts with the goal of a more open, interconnected and impactful scientific community. By advancing Open Science, we can transcend limitations, overcome challenges and bring the wealth of research from the Global South to the forefront, enriching the global scientific landscape.” – Mercury Shitindo, Group Chair


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