​​eLife Latest: January 2023 update on our actions to promote equity, diversity and inclusion

This fifth report on our ongoing work to address inequities in research and publishing reflects on our activities at the end of last year and plans for the next six months.

This year is set to be a pivotal year for eLife. As we transition to our new model this month, and focus on the public review and assessment of preprints, we remain committed to our ongoing work to address the challenges of making science and medicine more equitable, diverse and inclusive. Here, in the fifth of our series of twice-yearly updates, we reflect on our recent activity towards this ambition and share our plans for the six months ahead. As before, this work will encompass the following areas:

  • Implementing a framework for sustained action
  • Supporting inclusive and empowered communities
  • Addressing bias in peer review
  • Encouraging inclusive and equitable research
  • Underpinning action with equitable infrastructure

Questions and comments on this update are welcome. Please feel free to share via a comment on this blog post or via email to edi [at] elifesciences [dot] org. Anonymous feedback may also be shared via this form.

Report prepared by:
Stuart King, Research Culture Manager

A crowd of people of difference races, ages and genders

Implementing a framework for sustained action

In 2022, we launched a new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Framework intended to ensure we routinely consider how we can be more equitable, diverse and inclusive as part of any significant project at eLife. As planned, we have since trialled the framework and its supporting resources with five projects undertaken across eLife and Sciety. Work is still needed to support all of our teams to embed this practice within their planning processes; this will be a main focus for the next six months.

Next steps: To further our ambition to embody our values, we will next:

  • Further embed this process within teams’ workflows by applying the strategic framework to 10 more projects over the next six months.

Supporting inclusive and empowered communities

We have achieved all four objectives set out in our last report intended to better support and diversify various eLife communities. Specifically, we welcomed and onboarded five new members of our Early-Career Advisory Group; we recruited two new Scientific Non-executive Directors to our governing board; we cleared a backlog of applications to our early-career reviewers' pool and streamlined the process to more effectively meet demand in future; and we supported 12 new researchers from underrepresented backgrounds and countries with limited research funding with Ben Barres Spotlight Awards. In parallel, we also published many articles and interviews in 2022 that shared lived experiences of, and raised awareness around, important issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion.

Next steps: By July 2023, we will take the following steps:

  • Research and prepare to establish a Global South Advisory Group to continue to diversify the voices and perspectives that influence eLife policies.
  • Increase the diversity of the authors featured in our Sparks of Change series by publishing stories from more authors outside of North America and Europe.
  • Review and update the resources provided to our hiring managers to bring a greater awareness of equity, diversity and inclusion issues to recruitment.

Addressing bias in peer review

Diverse panels of reviewers and editors tend to mean fairer decisions for authors. As such we have continued to pursue diversifying our editorial community to better position us to address bias in peer review. We are therefore especially pleased to have welcomed 43 new editors from Latin America based on their successful applications to our first open call for eLife Reviewing Editors since our last report. The aim of the call was to help us increase representation in a previously underrepresented region in a deliberately more equitable way. We also analysed the self-reported gender data that we began collecting last year and have shared some early insights. Going forward we will continue to take actions to help us reduce bias in peer review including completing an objective that had been delayed last year.

Next steps: Within the next six months we will:

  • Launch the initiative to give eLife Senior Editors individualised feedback on their editorial activities and decisions and plan the next steps (carried over from July 2022).
  • Plan a second open call for new editors to continue to broaden representation across our editorial community.

Encouraging inclusive and equitable research

As an organisation that reviews and publicly shares assessments of new research, we want to continue to leverage the influence of peer review to help dismantle systemic legacies of exclusion and discrimination within research itself: namely in how research in the life and medical sciences is conducted and reported, and in who has their contributions recognised when that research is published.

Next steps: In time for our next report, we will take the following actions with the aim of supporting and encouraging more inclusive and equitable research:

  • Adopt standardised and gender-inclusive recommendations for reporting sex and gender information in research publications (carried over from July 2022).
  • Implement an ‘anti-helicopter research’ policy compatible with eLife’s new model.

Underpinning action with accessible and equitable infrastructure

Since July 2022, we have established a new feedback group that is geographically diverse and representative of our researcher communities in terms of gender and career stage to provide input for our design and technology teams.

Next steps: In time for our next report, we will:

  • Expand the options available to log in to Sciety such that researchers no longer need a Twitter account to save preprints and follow curation activity.
  • Update our data collection processes such that authors can still opt to self-report their demographic information within the workflows of our new model.


For the latest in published research sign up for our weekly email alerts. You can also follow @eLife on Twitter.