Early-career researchers: An update from the eLife Ambassadors

Since the launch of the eLife Ambassador program, ambassadors have been busy with open community calls, events and other activities.
Inside eLife
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By Steven Burgess, eLife Editorial Community Manager

eLife launched its first Ambassador program in January. Since then, I have been lucky enough to be involved in coordinating these efforts and I am excited to see what the Ambassadors are able to achieve. This is the first roundup post summarising progress over the past few weeks.

January 2018

Things got off to a great start with two open community calls. Chaired by eLife Early-Career Advisor Emmanuelle Vire, these provided an introduction to the program a chance to answer questions. The call led to the establishment of regional groupings of Ambassadors, with plans for the first in person meet-up in Cambridge and more planned.

Initiative progress

Efforts to tackle reproducibility are steaming ahead. We heard from Modesto Redrejo-Rodriguez about the open-access peer-reviewed journal Bio-protocol and Nicholas Schmelling introduced the extended methods sharing site Protocols.io, where he has set up the CyanoWorld group for standardizing methods in the cyanobacterial research community. Zuzana Hofmanova approached the issue for computational pipelines and shared information about NBIS Reproducibile Research course and the Reproducible Bioinformatics Project. Ideas for creating a collection of resources around reproducibility, reproducibility workshops and a Special Issue in Bio-protocol are under development and there will be a call to discuss this in the first full week of February.

Ambassadors interested in preprints have been discussing establishing journal clubs for analysis of preprints to provide feedback to authors along the model of PREreview established by Daniela Saderi and Sam Hindle. Luciane Kagohara shared her experiences about the continued need to educate and encourage researchers to adapt preprints and Carmen Lia highlighted Peer Community In as parallel initiative to provide feedback to authors.

Under highlighting funding opportunities Uschi Symmons shared a resource listing funding programs for postdocs and independent researchers developed by Dieter Lukas from the MPG in Germany. Adrian Teo raised the question of developing connections with EU groups to apply for funding. Upon discussion between Chinmaya Sadagni, Jessie Abbate, Rintu Kutum and Aziz Kha, Aziz created a searchable website collating opportunities inone place at https://asntech.github.io/postdoc-funding-schemes/ .

There was a lot of activity around career development for researchers. Sophie Acton, Chris Toseland, Lotte de Winde and Christina Cruceanu discussed the issue of paid paternity leave as a means of addressing the gender balance in science. Margaret Brisbin, Zach Hensel and Ahmet Bakirbas debated means of exposing ECRs to a variety of career paths. In that spirit Pradeep Rajasekhar shared information about the Parkville Career Forum, which raises awareness of non-academic careers. In addition, regarding the question of resources to support new PIs, Matha Naganbabu shared the blogs of Steve Ramirez and Prachee Avasthi.

Under peer review eLife board member Prachee Avasthi shared information about the ASAPBio proposal for a ‘Peer Feedback System’ to develop a journal agnostic review system to help speed up time to publication. Which was followed by an thought piece on the topic highlighted by Michiel Boekhout.

Peer Feedback proposal from ASAPBio, reproduced from http://asapbio.org/peer-feedback.

In diversity, Elisa Floriddia pointed to a recent study indicating significant gender bias in the success of grant applications with the idea of approaching funders to address this. We heard from Jessie Au about 1000girls1000futures project to encourage and support female high-school students in STEM. Juan Quintana is exploring the possibility of creating a network of Latin American scientists to provide networking opportunities and help increase their visibility. John Burns and Zach Hensel have been influential in encouraging the expansion of the Ambassador program to provide a greater geographic diversity - as a result we welcomed several new Ambassadors from across the world.

Finally, in regard to science communication and publishing, we heard from Emma Dorris about setting up Public Patient Involvement. Uschi Symmons shared a couple of initiatives including Start Talking Science and Lil BubOME, a crowdfunding project to sequence the genome of a celebrity cat to help explain the process through blogs.

What eLife Ambassadors are reading

A selection of articles and resources shared by Ambassadors:

From social media #eLifeAmbassadors

In the news

This post was originally shared on the ECRLife blog.

Interested in finding out more about opportunities, events and issues that are important for early-career researchers? Sign up to the eLife Early-Career Community newsletter or follow @eLifeCommunity on Twitter.