eLife Latest: April 2024 update on our actions to promote equity, diversity and inclusion

This seventh report highlights our recent activities and planned actions for the next six months

2023 was a transformative year for eLife. Now, as 2024 marks us entering the second year of our new publishing model, we report on the actions we have taken to promote greater equity, diversity and inclusion in science and publishing since our last update, as well as our plans for the months ahead. As before, our efforts will focus on four key areas:

  • 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@elifesciences.org. Anonymous feedback may be shared via this form.

Report prepared by:
Stuart King, Research Culture Manager

Supporting inclusive and empowered communities

Last year’s Ben Barres Spotlight Awards acknowledged a record 14 pioneering researchers from groups that are underrepresented in biology and medicine or countries with limited research funding. Our new Global South Committee marked a pivotal step in enabling us to continue to work towards more equitable collaboration and inclusion of traditionally underrepresented and minoritised communities. Our Sparks of Change collection featured neurodivergent scientists, offering them a platform to discuss their experiences while keeping control over their own narrative. Additionally, staff events continued to bolster our collective awareness on equity, diversity, inclusion and research culture issues.

The planned launch of the next cohort of the eLife Community Ambassadors has been rescheduled for late 2024. However, as before the aim will be to assemble a diverse community of researchers passionate about research culture change.

Next steps: By October 2024, we will take the following steps:

  • Elect new members of our Early-Career Advisory Group with a focus on maintaining geographic and gender diversity
  • Run the sixth Ben Barres Spotlight Awards to support researchers from underrepresented backgrounds and countries with limited research funding
  • Establish a subcommittee with members from our Board of Directors, Early-Career Advisory Group and executive staff to review eLife’s governance structure

Addressing bias in peer review

Enhancing the representativeness of our editorial board remains integral to our commitment to deliver equitable decisions for authors. Progress continues with the recruitment of new editors in Africa through our second open call, helping to address our historical underrepresentation of researchers from the Global South. Our most comprehensive report of the diversity of eLife’s editorial board underscores this and other achievements as well as pinpointing areas for improvement. Finally, our analysis of the first year under our new model reveals no significant differences in the self-reported demographic characteristics among corresponding authors and peer reviewers compared to submissions through our legacy model.

Next steps: Within the next six months we will:

  • Design subject-specific efforts to increase the gender balance of our editorial board
  • Plan a mentoring scheme to support new editors, especially those from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds
  • Diversify and increase engagement with our early-career reviewers pool

Encouraging inclusive and equitable research

eLife aims to support researchers in ensuring accurate and respectful communication. We will soon integrate the Guidelines on Inclusive Language and Images in Scholarly Communication into our journal policies to aid our authors, editors and reviewers in adopting more inclusive and culturally sensitive practices when publishing.

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

  • Host a community event on ​​inclusive and equitable research in the life sciences

Underpinning action with accessible and equitable infrastructure

Products, services and systems used and developed by eLife are all tools that can support our efforts to embody our values and drive research culture change. Since our last report, feedback from a diverse group of user testers has directly shaped the upcoming changes to our Reviewed Preprint designs.

Next steps: To further our ambition in this area, we will:

  • Assemble a diverse group of new user testers for upcoming technology projects, ensuring perspectives from across our researcher communities
  • Publish a blog on how Sciety embeds equity, diversity and inclusion in its activities


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