Whether in the sciences or in the humanities, early career researchers have a lot on their plates. In addition to their day jobs in labs, archives, or lecture halls, we expect them to publish, participate in service activities such as peer review and begin to train even earlier career researchers and students. How can we best help them navigate this challenging time? How can we engage them in service activities, conference participation, publications, and more? What can we learn from them in their support for sharing research early (preprints or journals clubs), transparency around publishing and beyond?

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Parallel 2a – Mate Palfy
Parallel 2a – Sam Hindle
Parallel 2a – Christine Tulley


Ms. Heather Staines
Head of Partnerships, MIT Knowledge Futures Group
Heather is currently Head Of Partnerships at MIT Knowledge Futures Group. Her previous roles include Director of Partnerships at Hypothesis (a non-profit and open source technology company dedicated to bringing standards-based annotation to scholarly communications) and positions at Proquest, SIPX (formerly Stanford International Property Exchange), Springer SBM, and Greenwood/Praeger. She is active in many industry events, including ALPSP, Charleston, SSP, STM, and COUNTER. She has a PhD in Military History from Yale University.


Sam Hindle
Content Lead, bioRxiv and PREreview
Dr. Samantha Hindle began her career as a research scientist at the University of York, U.K., where she attained her Ph.D. in Neuroscience. She continued her research career as a post-doctoral scholar, followed by an Assistant Professional Researcher position, at the University of California, San Francisco. Furthering her passion for open science, Samantha became the Content Lead for bioRxiv, a not-for-profit preprint server for the life sciences. Samantha is also Co-founder of PREreview.org, an initiative to help increase preprint awareness and community review by engaging scientists in preprint journal club discussions. Formerly an early career researcher herself, Samantha hopes to empower ECRs by providing the peer review training and acknowledgement that will support them throughout their scientific careers.

Mate Palfy
Community Manager for preLights, The Company of Biologists
Mate is from Budapest, Hungary, where he studied biology at the Eotvos Lorand University. He completed his PhD at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, where he worked on gene regulation. Mate now works as a Community Manager for preLights, a preprint highlighting service that was launched over a year ago by The Company of Biologists (a publisher based in Cambridge, UK). His main tasks involve building a community of early-career researchers around preLights, providing them with support, and evolving and promoting this new initiative.

Christine Tulley
Director of Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing, University of Findlay
Christine Tulley is Professor of English and Founder and Director of the Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing at The University of Findlay. She is the author of How Writing Faculty Write (2018), the forthcoming Rhet Comp Moms: What 150 Time Use Diaries Can Teach Us about Parenting, Productivity, and Professionalism (Utah State University Press), and contributes regularly to Inside Higher Education on academic publishing and productivity issues. She gives regular lectures and workshops on faculty writing and time management for teaching and scholarship, most recently as a faculty writing retreat coordinator for University of North Georgia and Ohio Northern University in May and as a featured speaker at the scholarly publishing conference Researcher to Reader in London in February. She also served as the 2018 keynote speaker for the Peck Research on Writing Symposium at Middle Tennessee State University, a keynote speaker at the inaugural AAEEBL Conference on eportfolios at The University of Michigan and was the 2010 Visiting Scholar in Digital Media and Composition at Ohio State University. Currently, she is a research adviser with Prolifiko, a writing productivity group in the UK, to address researcher writing challenges across various career stages.

View Transcript
[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC PLAYING] [00:00:15.99] HEATHER STAINES: Welcome to our session on working with early careers. We have three speakers today that I’m excited to present. Our first speaker, immediately to my left, is Dr. Christine Tulley. She’s a professor of English and Founder and Director of the Masters of Arts and Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Findlay in Ohio. I’m from Ohio, so I know where that is.
[00:00:38.85] She is the author of How Writing Faculty Write, which came out in 2018, and author of the forthcoming Rhet Comp Moms What 150 Time Use Diaries Can Teach Us About Parenting, Productivity, and Professionalism. We talked about that the other day, and I’m really excited to hear about that.
[00:00:58.88] Our second speaker is Dr. Samantha Hindle. Samantha is content lead for bioRxiv, a not-for-profit preprint server in the Life Sciences. She’s also co-founder of PREreview.org, an initiative to help increase preprint awareness and community review by engaging scientists in preprint journal club discussions. She’ll be telling us more about that.
[00:01:21.07] And finally, we have Mate Palfy– Dr. Mate Palfy. Mate now works as a community manager for preLights, which is a preprint highlighting service launched just over a year ago by The Company of Biologists. His main tasks there involve building a community of early career researchers around preLights, providing them with support and evolving and promoting the initiative, which he’s going to be telling us about today.
[00:01:46.23] We will take questions at the end, so all of them will delight and inform us with their presentations. And then hopefully we can have a wonderful discussion with– including all of you as well.
[00:02:10.56] CHRISTINE TULLEY: So I’m Christine Tulley. I am going to talk to you today about transition challenges for early career researchers in the humanities. I’m an English professor at the University of Findlay, and I also do academic productivity coaching. That’s my area of research, how to get new faculty, mid-career senior faculty, and to have better productivity strategies. And so that’s one of the reasons why I work with academic publishing a lot, to see if we can bridge that gap a little bit better.
[00:02:35.77] So I want to start with some familiar markers of success and what it looks like in the humanities. So not too many humanities people here at this conference, and as I found, a lot of people are very curious about some of these things. So some traditional early markers that we’ve had, really they are things that we– some of us probably are already aware of.
[00:02:53.88] So one of these things would be a solo-authored manuscript in a good academic press, preferably in print because we’re still thinking it sort of a traditional marker. And this would be the same whether you’re in classics, you’re in anthropology, you’re in literature, it’s just a standard marker that has sort of held true. And in fact, a study that was done by Collins and Malloy in 2016, of are taking humanities researchers in the United Kingdom did look at how many people feel monograph is important. It’s 95% still. This was only done a couple years ago.
[00:03:25.53] So check. You’re in good shape if you got one of those. Another thing would be having an article in a journal that’s ranked in the top 10, meaning in terms of impact. So my particular journal, if I use SCImago, and I look in there to see where my journal is, my flagship journal for rhetoric and writing studies, which is my subfield in English, it is number eight. So out of 10.
[00:03:46.74] So a journal article there, it counts for me when I’m thinking about– I have tenure, but prior to having it, a journal article there counted way more than counting something that was, say, open access, that maybe wasn’t ranked. So while I was interested in those things, I definitely didn’t pursue them until after having tenure. So this would be something that’s considered another marker.
[00:04:07.00] A third way that people get a reputation for academic success in the humanities is to think about editorial work. And so getting on a good editorial board would be very prestigious. Becoming the editor of a journal. And if you look at the example here, these people are described as some of the brightest minds and some of the brightest lights of the community. So who wouldn’t want to be described like that.
[00:04:29.86] Other things that can happen would be getting an endowed chair. That would be another marker of success in the humanities. So if we think about that, it’s something where you– basically another institution comes and lures you with a good position, and salary, and a lower teaching load, and you get one of those, usually it has a fancy title. It’s another marker of success in the humanities.
[00:04:49.06] Getting to do a keynote speech at a large national conference. That’s something that shows success again. You’re being asked to do that. Becoming president of your national organization, your disciplinary organization, this is another way that you can show success. And then finally, getting grants from say, the Mellon Foundation or the Gates Foundation. All these things are signatures to other people that you have success in the humanities. These are traditional markers that we’re working with prior to coming into an emerging culture.
[00:05:17.83] So one of the things I do want to say about this in the spirit of the comments made yesterday, these markers do hold true in the global south with some caveats for access and funding and availability. But, in general, these are still markers that are recognized in there. And I know there was a 2018 Scarlet Kitchen post that kind of talked about, while these markers hold true, they’re sort of noted with a caveat. This one was done by a gender studies professor, Naveen Manani, if you want to look at it. But she does talk about those challenges.
[00:05:50.77] Some other things I want to talk about, then, are some emerging markers. And so emerging markers now include things like tweeting about your research and getting a good social media profile for your research. And so I kind of came in it, when I started my career 18 years ago, I was coming in a very traditional model. But within five years, already people were starting to use social media to do some of this stuff.
[00:06:11.99] And so I want to give this example of Angela. She’s a scholar in my discipline of rhetoric and writing. And one of the things that she does actively is tweets about things that she publishes. And what I think is most notable here, if you take a look at it, it shows that she has 237 followers, which maybe doesn’t sound very impressive.
[00:06:28.33] But what is impressive is if we look to see who’s followed– or following her, the My National Organization, the National Council of Teachers of English, and then there’s a subgroup with the Four Cs, which is letters about college writing and communication. That group alone has 10,000, 15,000 members. And the actual organization is following her, even though the article she put in the journal is not from one of their journals. It’s a totally different thing. So this is another marker of success where there’s more of a cycle there.
[00:06:58.78] Another thing to look at would be if it– here would be another marker of success in the humanities. If you don’t like the journals out there, you go start your own. There are so many open systems right now, that you can start your own digital, open access, new fairly easy, low cost kind of start-up to do a journal.
[00:07:15.15] Now, a lot of them do fail. They don’t stick around because people just don’t maintain them and things like that. But if you want to get yourself into another marker of academic success, founding a journal is another good way to do it, particularly in my area of English studies, which is called Rhetoric and Writing. So I’ve thought about it. Something I’m looking at doing.
[00:07:33.21] Another thing would be to do a giant digital humanities project that has some sort of public engagement and service. So the Classics Department at Northwestern University has lots of these public service projects that are– they look at architecture in Chicago, and they try to map connections between classical Greece and classical Rome in the city of Chicago.
[00:07:53.64] And so this kind of a project– it’s public scholarship, it has quite a wide impact, it’s engaging, but more importantly, the early career researchers that worked on this program and classics, they’re very well known now in their field as being these large digital humanities scholars. So it’s another way to get academic success that humanities researchers can have some control, to some extent, to take care of.
[00:08:15.49] So what this means then, if we’re thinking about this a little bit, is that where humanities early career researchers are, they have this mix of innovative and conservative tendencies. So this is where I think we are, looking at them and coming back to it from the academic societies and academic publishers. If we look at what’s happening– and this is kind of where humanities folks are trapped. And the other thing that’s in there is that if we think about it a little bit, a lot of humanities scholars are under constraints right now.
[00:08:43.23] Teaching loads have increased, class sizes have increased across different institutions, across different countries. It’s harder to get funding for things in humanities. Thinking ahead to things like article processing charges and stuff like that, that affects the humanities disproportionately because they usually don’t have someone to pay that. Salaries are lower. So there’s a very pressured environment, where having success in the humanities for an early career researcher, it means you basically have to do more, and you have to do more with harder time constraints.
[00:09:14.59] So what I think happens, then, is that we have these engagement challenges and opportunities that I think that we can look towards if we mean to. One of the ways that I think academic society publishers and educational technologists might take advantage of this moment is to expand what it means– what the concept of publication means for humanities researchers.
[00:09:34.68] So humanities researchers, in a lot of ways, they do kind of hang on to traditional norms. We know what a scholarly monograph looks like. We know what an article looks like. We understand open access journals, multimedia types of journals. But what actually counts as publication, we tend to think of something that’s finished or that’s complete.
[00:09:52.72] And here’s where I think we’re in this culture where we are told that we’re going to have a small audience. This is completely unlike sciences, in a way. We’re told that, hey, five people are going to read your article. That’s pretty good. We’re such a specialized niche, that only a few people are going to look at this.
[00:10:09.90] We’re told only maybe 90 people will actually buy your scholarly monograph. Maybe 200 of them will be sold over a lifetime. So my last book that I did in 2018, once it hit a 300 marker, everybody at the press was celebrating. They were so excited. They’re like, this is such a great– this is a hot book right now. And I didn’t think it was that hot, but they think it’s hot.
[00:10:29.25] And so much so that this next book that Heather just mentioned about Rhet Comp Moms, I did an advanced contract for that. All I had to do was write him a proposal, give me a little sample what I wanted to do, and they’re like, we want it. We want it. So it’s just a different marker of success. You just don’t expect a wide readership. And we’re told that we write, as humanities scholars, stuff that a lot of people don’t want to read. It’s just kind of embedded in our culture.
[00:10:54.06] So here’s where I think preprints really have some untapped potential. As a humanities researcher, a lot of people, quite frankly, they’re not going to engage in preprint. It’s not worth their time. We’re under too much of a time constraint to get out long form scholarship that, despite some of these other concerns, it’s still recognized as a marker of success in the humanities. And I just mentioned that statistic that 95% of academics in the United Kingdom in that area still think it’s important, despite knowing that something like the ref counts it as the same as other types of outputs even though it’s long form and it takes longer to do.
[00:11:28.26] So just looking at this very quickly, I know these numbers are kind of tiny up there to see, but I want to just compare something very quickly. So if we look at SSRN, which is the preprint’s network for Elsevier. I want to look at biology versus classics, and I realize these are too small– not apples to apples in terms of comparison, but I just want to look at numbers really quickly.
[00:11:49.39] So if you look at the bottom on there, you can see that there’s much– many fewer papers that are loaded. So we have– 1,126 or 1,116 papers. But then at the same time, there’s 260,000 downloads. So just comparing these two things very quickly that those folks in Classics, they have a much higher chance of their papers actually getting read. There’s not as many of them out there.
[00:12:15.73] So I think a way to maybe think about engaging humanity scholars is to get them to understand that, hey, there’s not much of their much out there. And if we use a system like this, or one of the– a comparable one, it’s a way to get your research read. And just because we we’re told not a lot of people read our research, it doesn’t mean we don’t want them to. So now that– when I did this, I was like, the next thing I wanted to think about after this was like, where am I going to put something? Because I see that not that many people are reading it.
[00:12:41.76] And this is a reason why I think that other initiatives to try to make a preprints network in humanities founded by a scholarly organization sometimes fail. I would argue– and this is probably a little bit provocative– but the Modern Language Association, which has started the Humanities Commons, this really has not been a success. I’ve been on a number of boards that work with some of the organizations that feed into this. It’s not viewed as a success, and I want to show you why.
[00:13:05.66] So they have lots of these groups. We have lots of groups in here where we talk about different subsets of research, and if you look at this one, Late Medieval History, we really don’t have very much. Zero topics, zero posts. So nobody wants to talk. And it even says, it’s awfully quiet around here. That’s because nobody wants to do it.
[00:13:23.78] So the last thing I want to mention is rethinking peer review as early career researcher mentoring. So here’s something that we could look at. We talked a little bit about exposing structures of peer review. I am the book review editor for Computers and Composition, it’s an Elsevier journal. One of the things that I do is I give folks that are writing a book review this type of schematic if they turn in a draft that doesn’t look like a traditional book review of an academic monograph. So I expose what the structure looks like, and you can see here there are some templates.
[00:13:54.70] Lastly, one of the things that I think might be a workable solution would be to look at open and collaborative reviews in a different way. So Kairos, which is a journal of rhetoric and technology within my discipline, has been known for having this really wonderful, open, clear collaborative process in the humanities.
[00:14:10.72] And if you look at this, all the reviews are signed, all of them are open, the whole editorial team looks at every submission that comes in, writes back feedback, gives that to the author, and invites the author– it’s all signed– to circulate it. So that author can tweet it out, put it out there, email it tell their friends. They don’t care. It’s not published on the journal site, but it’s actively encouraged to put that review out there and open it up for discussion among other scholars.
[00:14:36.04] So I think these are some ways that we might think about approaching humanities researchers, knowing that they have these time constraints in place. Thank you.
[00:14:43.62] [APPLAUSE] [00:14:56.39] SAMANTHA HINDLE: Hi, everyone. My name is Samantha Hindle. I will be– and so I used to be a literary researcher myself. And I moved out of academia, basically, because I became very passionate about preprints and the promise that they held to really help us switch in how we think about and evaluate science. And as Stephen Curry said yesterday, preprints helps us to think about the content and not the container. And that in itself means that preprints can be a really great way of training early career researchers in how to critically think about science in a manuscript.
[00:15:34.34] And so this got me really passionate about preprints, and I basically like to give you an overview of three projects that I’ve been involved in. One of them is my job at bioRxiv and PREreview, which is an initiative I launched before I started working at bioRxiv while I was an early career researcher. And then also I’ll touch upon Transpose as well.
[00:15:55.57] So I don’t think preprints need that much of an introduction for this crowd. But really, this slide is just to illustrate how preprints are really taking off particularly, in the life sciences, here. And over the last few years preprints have become kind of exponential in the number of submissions, and largely on bioRxiv, but also by other contributing frequent servicers.
[00:16:17.74] There’s a lot of questions about preprints, and we wanted to ask the community how they’ve been using preprints and how they’ve been benefiting. So last year we did a survey, and we had over 4,000 participants in the survey. This just shows the demographics of how that split across the world and career stages, but I’d like to focus on the responses from early career researchers.
[00:16:39.14] And so here, this just shows the top five reasons for why early career researchers are posting preprints. Not to too much surprise, the top two reasons were to increase awareness of the research and to benefit science. And the third reason was to receive feedback, which is particularly important for early career researchers, which, by definition, are early in their careers and can really benefit from a lot of feedback. And the fourth reason was to control the timing in which their research is disseminated. And again, particularly important for early career researchers who are often up against time sensitive deadlines, like job applications, for example.
[00:17:15.31] The fifth reason was to stake a priority claim on their research, which again is important for all scientists, but particularly early career researchers. We were pleased to see that when we asked early career researchers, 74% felt like posting a preprint did help increase awareness of their work. About 46% were getting feedback on Twitter, 34% by email, and 13% on bioRxiv itself. and about a quarter were also feeling like they were able to stake a priority claim. And this can only increase as the culture changes and becomes more accepting of preprints.
[00:17:50.99] This question was also open ended, so we had a few other contributions as to why and how they were benefiting from preprints. One is editorial perspective, which was mentioned by Stephen Curry yesterday. And this is really a win-win situation because editors are hopefully increasing the number of submissions to their journals by soliciting submissions from preprint authors. And these are likely to be more of a fit for their journal. And this is also a win for scientists and early career researchers who are very excited to receive emails from editors to invite their submissions.
[00:18:24.21] One interesting initiative that has been launched by Proceedings B Preprint Editors is to actually include early career researchers in the selection process. So have them look on the preprint servers and then determine what is a good fit for the journal. And that’s really great training opportunity for the career researchers, and it also helps to create networks between early career researchers and editors. And these could be a new future pool for your peer reviewers.
[00:18:54.01] As you know, preprints are citable objects, and this is really important to early career researchers. They showed overwhelmingly that they have support for citing preprints, and also they have been citing them themselves. And one really interesting example of how this is useful for other career researchers is here from Steph Hayes, who is an early career researcher.
[00:19:13.03] And she had basically two articles that were dependent on each other. And she was concerned that the second article might actually get published before the first, which would basically scoop herself. So she submitted a preprint, and that allowed her to then cite that preprint in her second manuscript and prevent from scooping herself.
[00:19:32.31] As I’ve said, it’s valuable to get feedback for early career researchers, and also it can help to satisfy the criteria for them achieving their PhD as well. They don’t have to necessarily wait until the work has been finally published. And some other career researchers have been receiving invitations to peer review as a result of their preprints, so that’s exciting to see.
[00:19:55.02] And also this one, it might seem like a joke, but actually submitting a preprint and getting that instant gratification for your work is really important for early career researchers. And it can really help them to stay in academia and have that appreciation for the work that they’re doing.
[00:20:13.12] So how have early career researchers been engaging with preprints? 30% get involved on Twitter, 17% email the authors with feedback, and 4% comment on bioRxiv. And this is very low, and we’d like to increase that, so we were also interested in other avenues of providing feedback. So we asked about journal clubs and whether early career researchers have been discussing preprints in journal clubs. And to our surprise and delight, 60% of early career researchers have been discussing preprints in journal clubs. So this is a really great source of feedback for authors, and we hope that we can encourage that more.
[00:20:49.31] Just moving on now to PREreview, which is actually the initiative that I launched about 2 and a half years ago to actually encourage more discussion of preprints in journal clubs. Before we launched PREreview, we asked the community whether they would be willing to provide that feedback from journal clubs. And overwhelmingly they said yes, but that they would also like some support and guidance.
[00:21:10.65] So we launched PREreview to provide that guidance and help to empower early career researchers to get involved in the peer review process and try to connect them with editors. And the way we’ve been doing this is to provide resources and templates for how to write peer review, and how to also host preprint journal clubs themselves. These can be local, like shown here, but also we pioneered the idea of live streamed preprint journal clubs. So basically anyone anywhere in the world can join the conversation, even the authors themselves to get live feedback. And this has been really fun, and also really easy way of providing very rich review material.
[00:21:52.05] So and we’re actually going to be launching our new platform next week during Peer Review Week. And this houses our resources, but also means to write the actual reviews and templates for how to actually go about doing review. But one of our main core missions at PREreview is to create a safe space for early career researchers, and in particular, underrepresented minorities to get involved in peer review.
[00:22:16.89] So we’re providing a means for them to have a pseudonym for their profile. We as a leadership team know their identity, but it doesn’t have to be public to– doesn’t have to be open to public until they’re comfortable and that they’re at a stage in their career or their peer review training that allows them to reveal that identity. And basically they just flip a switch, and all their previous reviews and future reviews will suddenly be with their real identity, basically. So we’re hoping that we’ll create a safe space for them.
[00:22:48.42] We also want to connect them with editors. So we’re adding a flag to their profile that basically says to editors, we’re open to you contacting us to be involved in the peer review process. And we’re hoping the fact that the reviews will all be openly available will mean that editors can have a look and assess their abilities to do peer review and then contact them to through the site.
[00:23:09.22] So we’re hoping this will empower early career researchers to get involved, but also try to diversify the peer review pool that editors can use. Very quickly, just to talk about Transpose, which as I’ve been working at bioRxiv archive and representing bioRxiv at conferences, when we have booths, early career researchers will come up, and the main question that they will ask is, oh, I’m not sure about journals policies. I’m not clear on whether I can post preprint, what version I can post. And so this database is basically trying to surface those preprint policies and peer review policies to make it easier for scientists and early career researchers to find the information that they need.
[00:23:53.07] So on the database, you can search for the journal, filter by the particular type of policy. You can even compare across multiple journals so that you can see what is the best fit for them. But this is also a useful resource for editors themselves if they want to update their policies and have an idea of what kind of wording to use. I hope to increase the transparency of policies. You’ll go into the website and have a look for your journal and update it, or add the record if it’s not already there.
[00:24:23.45] So just to quickly summarize, some ways that we can all help early career researchers to support them in their careers is if you haven’t tried editorial prospecting, give it a go. And even better, involve early career researchers in that process. That way it will lower the burden for you, and it will help to train them at the same time. Also, think about inviting them to the peer review process. Really helps to diversify your pool and helps to make the whole process much more streamlined and faster.
[00:24:53.93] And maybe take into account if you have preprint submissions and you see that there’s actually a review listed on the site, on the preprint server, read that review if it’s useful, and particularly if it was written by an early career researcher, why not contact them and thank them for their review just to acknowledge it. And maybe also incorporate them in the peer review process as well.
[00:25:14.27] As you’ve heard, citation is really important to early career researchers, so having those clear, transparent preprint citation policies on your site are also part of the database would be really useful. Preprints and citation in general are very important for early career researchers as I’ve outlined, so just showing support in general is really valuable for early career researchers.
[00:25:35.55] And that just really brings me to the very last point, which I think is probably the most important, that preprints can really help to kind of overcome the publish and perish sort of toxicity of academia sometimes. That it can really help early career is to realize that they’re doing something good for the world, and they’re really making a change by getting their work out as fast as possible. And so having support for early career researchers, and by supporting preprints, and making it obvious that journals ask for part of the prints I think can be really helpful for them. So thank you.
[00:26:09.14] [APPLAUSE] [00:26:21.00] MATE PALFY: Hello, so first of all, a big thanks to the organizers and especially Heather for inviting me to give a talk here. I’m really excited. So I want to talk and share my experience today with working with a specific group of early career researchers, who are the preLighters.
[00:26:37.34] In case you missed Claire’s talk today, just a brief overview, again, about preLights. So the very heart of early career researchers who take preprints which they think are really interesting. They pick mainly from bioRxiv, but also from other platforms, and they write a short summary, like a muse and use type of digest about the work, also telling why they think this is an important work. And they reach out to preprint authors and ask questions about the work. And then this discussion is then posted at the end of the preLight.
[00:27:06.13] So at the moment we’re working with about 150 preLights, so I want to share what we can learn from them in terms of engaging in service activities. I want to talk about four main points today about preprint, peer review, communication and networking, and about career progression.
[00:27:23.73] So Sam has given a fantastic overview of all the benefits that preprinting has for early career researchers, and I want to just point out that it’s really great that they don’t just choose preprints for their own benefit, but really want to spread the word. So when I ask them about what was the main reason they joined preLights, many times they told me that they really wanted to give preprints more exposure, and they’re hoping that with, this some more authors are going to publish preprints.
[00:27:49.46] We’ve also had a researcher from Japan say that he’s a bit sad that they’re not so well embraced in preprints in Japan, and he really wants to change this. And there’s a PhD student who’s working in immunology, and he told me that in this field, it’s probably not the best in terms of accepting preprints, and he really wants to be an advocate and change this.
[00:28:08.78] But perhaps one of the best examples I can give you is when nine preLighters got together and wrote a blog post about how preprints really help transparency and communication. And this was in response to actually a commentary about how preprints could potentially be damaging if journalists would misuse them and report on them in a responsible way. And this one led to a public event which was really well attended, where there was a big discussion with journalists and scientists about how science journalism and preprints can coexist. And here you can see one of our preLighters giving a talk there.
[00:28:42.82] And this year’s actually been quite a number of posts on analyzing preprints, and our preLighters have been really active in discussing these articles, for example, on what makes a preprints especially popular, or on a study that showed that posting preprints actually has a positive effect on the citation and metrics of the journal publication.
[00:29:05.85] So coming to peer review, I just want to, again, start by quoting one of the preLighters who I talked with. And she actually mentioned that one of her main motivations that she actually wanted to get involved in peer reviewing, but was really sad that she never got asked by any editor directly. And that she’d think they would really make sense to get postdocs involved in peer review and really ask them directly, instead of just reviewing for their PIs.
[00:29:29.61] And this brings to, again, one of our really big problem, which is ghostwriting. So there’s also a study which was featured on preLights. They carried out a big survey, and it was quite shocking that almost half of the people who responded said that they’ve reviewed and actually read the paper, wrote the review, but actually we’re not mentioned on the peer review, so it was only submitted with the name of the PI.
[00:29:55.11] So the question is what can publishers do to change these bad practices. So The Company of Biologists journals, now in their submission form, the PI can actually fill in the name of the co-reviewer early career researcher and add their email address. So potentially in the future then the journal can contact this early career researcher.
[00:30:16.02] The journals have now partnered with Publons, which actually won the [INAUDIBLE] award two years ago. This is for crediting peer review activity. Also, our journals are either trying to more promote early career researchers in the publishing process. So now we’ve recruited some early career PIs in our editorial board, and also some of our editors are inviting early career researchers to review. And two of our journals has just recently started to become transparent regarding the peer review process, and we’re publishing the peer review reports.
[00:30:50.06] And also, what Claire mentioned yesterday is now also on preLights we’re trying to capture this peer review process and try to more open up this black box of peer review. And so apart from just having the authors comments about the work, now the preLights are also going to, after the work is published, get back to these authors and ask them what were the main improvements in their preprint during peer review.
[00:31:16.49] So then coming into the communication and networking aspect of preLights, the preLighters are actually also really enthusiastic about contacting these PIs, and it gives them a great excuse to ask them and discuss more about their work. And, of course, often the PIs are also really pleased that their work has been featured on preLights.
[00:31:35.03] And what’s even more rewarding to see is sometimes that preprint authors then update their preprint based on the discussion that they’ve seen. And we even have an example where this preLighter and author discussion was mentioned at the response to peer reviewers. And as you can see because it was in eLife, which publishes peer review reports. But of course, most of the discussions actually happened on Twitter, where preprint authors interact. And so sorry. In this case, for example, they’ve told the community that really the preLight helped to think about their work in a very different way.
[00:32:10.81] So here I just want to talk a little bit more about the role of Twitter and the work of early career researchers. So already a previous talk mentioned its importance, but it’s also, apart from keeping up-to-date with the literature, it’s also a great way to reach out to people in the field, experts in the field who you would probably not meet regularly or at your department. So also it gives early career researchers a great chance to share their ideas. And actually this assistant professor said this is the reason why he likes to follow mainly on PhDs and postdocs because they tend to have the most interesting ideas.
[00:32:48.04] But of course, getting involved in Twitter can sometimes feel a bit scary. And actually, we’ve heard from some of the preLighters that preLights really helped them to get involved and start being more active. And they’re actually really proud to be a part of this community and also shared that they’re a preLighter on their Twitter bios.
[00:33:07.02] So that preLighters communicate with each other mainly through Slack, and there’s a lot of discussions also about, for example, publishing. And they also like to meet up. They go to the same conference. But now we’re also trying to engage them and get them to talk through hosting webinars.
[00:33:26.09] And finally, about career progression. So at the description of the panel, you could read that ECRs have a lot on their plate. So what can we do to engage them in some additional service activities? And preLights suggest service activity. Actually, we were really happy to see that it’s been actually not so difficult to engage them. And I think the main reasons are that preLights really helps them to hone in their writing skills. So it’s important if you can identify some kind of skill that’s important to them. It’s easier to engage them.
[00:33:57.42] It also helps to build the network also within the early career researcher community and also with more established PIs. And it really helps to raise their profile and visibility. So probably it’s much more difficult for someone to start a blog if they’re interested about writing about science. But much easier to become part of a team of preLighters and there start blogging about it.
[00:34:17.97] And also really importantly, it’s valuable for their CV. So that’s really something they can point to. Actually, I’ve even got a preLighter asked me to write her a recommendation letter for their postdoc. And there it was very nice that I can exactly link to the thing that she has highlighted and written about.
[00:34:34.92] So just on a final note, I just want to mention that The Company of Biologists is really keen to help early career researchers in many different ways. For example, we have, in our different journals, interviews with the first authors. So giving some more light to the early career researchers. And a charity, we also have a number of travel grants for early career scientists. We also organize workshops and meetings, which is a place where they actually get the equal amount of speaking time as established PIs.
[00:35:03.46] And we also, apart from preLights, have other community websites like The Node, which is for developmental biology community. And we’re just about to launch a new microscopy site, which will also have an early career researcher focus. So thanks a lot for your attention.
[00:35:17.46] [APPLAUSE] [00:35:24.44] HEATHER STAINES: Thanks everyone for doing such a great job and sticking to time so that we do have an opportunity for questions. One of the reasons that I love to moderate sessions is because then I get to ask the questions that I really want to ask. So I am going to take liberty of asking one question, which may well be on the minds of a lot of folks here coming from either society publishers or folks who attend or are active in their societies as engagement of early careers in professional societies.
[00:35:52.28] I know we’ve had some conversations in the planning calls, but what ideas would you kind of derive from your experience in getting early careers to see benefit of that type of activity? Do you want to start?
[00:36:05.53] CHRISTINE TULLEY: Sure. So one of the things that I do right now, I sit on our executive board for my disciplinary organization. Its organization about 3,500 members, and there’s 24 executive seats. I have one of those seats. And what we’ve done as an academic society is to try to think about what are we going to do to get people to belong to the society in the future? What are we going to do to have them subscribe to our journal?
[00:36:27.70] And so I’ve been very active in the recruitment effort to get early career researchers and try to think about things that matter. So things that used to matter 10 or 15 years ago in the humanities, like you absolutely have to belong to this society and subscribe to this journal. It’s not the case now. There are plenty more journals for them to look at, other places to turn their attention.
[00:36:45.34] And so one of the things that we’ve tried to do is do a lot of value added extra things. So I’m in the process of developing a new webinar to interact with new career researchers about why they should choose our journals and what do we offer that’s so special to them that doesn’t exist somewhere else, particularly because we’re a paywell journal. And in a society we’re not that expensive to subscribe, relatively, for the humanities, but that’s something that’s out there.
[00:37:10.39] I think another thing that might be a way to engage and get early career researchers is that I think the academic societies and publishers have to go to them. So it used to be, at least in the humanities, that you had to sort of grovel at the feet of the academic society or the publisher to get them to notice. But that is not the case with all of the different competing journals and societies and things that they can belong to, and the more specialization in the humanities.
[00:37:33.80] So that would be sort of my short answer. I think those are some ways where the societies have to get very active with the researchers.
[00:37:40.33] HEATHER STAINES: Sam?
[00:37:40.77] SAMANTHA HINDLE: Yeah, I think the only think I would add to that is– it’s kind of similar– but that just to provide a community. That’s the benefit of society journals is that you have a community yourselves. And so inviting early career researchers into that and really making them feel like they’re a part of it in whatever way that might be because being a researcher can be quite lonely at times. You have your lab, but there’s changes and there’s a whole range of sizes of labs and structures of labs.
[00:38:07.90] And so really providing that fun but safe and interesting environment for early career researchers to join and make them feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves and bigger than just the research that they’re doing I think can really incentivize them to get involved and support your society.
[00:38:25.17] HEATHER STAINES: Mate, anything to add?
[00:38:27.49] MATE PALFY: I think– a lot of things people have already been mentioned, but I think giving them exposure is a really important thing for early career researcher, that they can really feel that they’re not like invisible and actually all their contributions are valuable and are seen by the community.
[00:38:42.95] HEATHER STAINES: Great. Do we have questions? Let’s see, Anthony?
[00:38:54.25] ANTHONY WATKINSON: Hello, Anthony Watkinson, Cyber Research. Heaven knows that I’ve been working on early career researchers, interviewing a lot, the same people for three years running, over a set of questions to see what their views had changed. Mostly scientists, mostly postdoctorals. My question is about what our impression has been that the main way in which early career researchers get exposure to their research and also to their presenting skills is at conferences still.
[00:39:35.69] And I didn’t– I came in a bit late, that may not have been mentioned all. I wonder if it is– I see preprints now coming up in the last year. Biosciences people had come across bioRxiv, that were using that service or thinking seriously about it, looking at it and putting things in. And I’m not suggesting that preprints are not a very good way, but I mention conferences as additional, as a priority, perhaps.
[00:40:11.68] CHRISTINE TULLEY: Yes, so I actually agree with you and one of the ways that I think maybe we could think about it is try to merge the idea of preprints with conferences. So, for example, at my national conference, they always have what they call a research network, and it’s basically a spot where early career researchers can bring a project in process. And they basically do some sharing with other researchers in the room, some senior scholars, some not.
[00:40:34.94] But essentially, it’s doing a lot of what preprints do, it’s just happening live and at the conference. And that would be another benefit to actually joining the academic society, subscribing to the journal, going to the conference, because you’re basically sharing that work, and at least trying to get humanities researchers involved in preprints.
[00:40:50.54] That would be a way to jump over the gap and say you’re already doing preprint– maybe it’s not printing, but you’re presharing and I think that might be a way to kind of connect that conference and preprint link.
[00:41:01.67] SAMANTHA HINDLE: I think also opening up what we think of as a conference too and making that more global. Not everyone can afford to come or has the time maybe even to come to a conference. And so making that more digital, potentially, like we would do at PREreview with preprint journal clubs, make them live streamed. Anyone from anywhere in the world can join.
[00:41:22.28] The same does and can happen with conferences as well and so because preprints are already openly available, that content is already out there and just kind of provide another venue for everyone anywhere in the world to get involved.
[00:41:37.52] HEATHER STAINES: Simon?
[00:41:39.31] SIMON KERRIDGE: Simon Kerridge, University of Kent. Thank you very much, really interesting presentations and I think my takeaway from this is it’s building that community of early career researchers to speak with each other. If I’m just sort of reflecting on a couple things that Christine said, which was I think Twitter, start your own journal, and do a big digital humanities project, which sound to me things that would suck time away. Is there an issue with finding that time, and do perhaps PI’s not enable or not encourage early career researchers to spend that time on not working on their project?
[00:42:14.77] CHRISTINE TULLEY: Yeah, that’s a good question. In the humanities, quite frankly, yes, that is true. So those types of projects are usually saved for the minute you get tenure. And you go– or as soon as you have some job security of some sort. And it’s not that they aren’t important. Early career researchers know they are, and so what they basically do is try to do two jobs in one. They do the traditional markers, they still do the book, they still do the article.
[00:42:36.73] At the same time, in their few spare hours, which they don’t really have, they work on a digital humanities project. So it’s sort of supposed to be saved for after– I should maybe change that a little bit. It’s supposed to be save for after tenure. Most early career researchers that want a job, they want tenure, don’t wait because they still need to increase their national reputation. The market is very tight in many humanities positions, very difficult to get a job in classics, or literature, whatever your discipline. And so for those folks, they are trying to do it. They’re trying to do it all. They’re not trying to replace one with the other.
[00:43:11.05] SAMANTHA HINDLE: I’d say it’s very similar in the life sciences too, to be honest. There’s a lot of pressure on researchers to produce. As Stephen Curry was saying yesterday, a lot of success metrics are based on how much you publish and what you publish. And really it needs for that to change in the culture and to put more emphasis on other aspects of being a scientist, like outreach and mentoring and all these sorts of really important things.
[00:43:34.69] HEATHER STAINES: I think we have one more question in the center. And did you want to add something? Oh go ahead.
[00:43:39.25] MATE PALFY: So I think PI’s don’t– I think most PI’s wouldn’t view being on Twitter a lot as a waste of time because there are specific topics where I think many PI’s are really on Twitter, and use it, and can see the benefit. And the same with, for example, writing for preLights. I think many early career researchers don’t really get opportunities for writing during their PhD, for example. And I think PI’s are actually quite glad that they’re taking on these extra tasks.
[00:44:07.62] HEATHER STAINES: Martin, can you be super quick? We have less than a minute.
[00:44:10.78] MARTIN RICKMAN: I’ll be quick. Yeah, Martin Rickman from MDPI and also preprints.org. I have a comment and a question. So firstly, on our website we have a page where anyone can sign up to be a reviewer for our journals. And that’s a way to get out of just the networks of editorial board members and so on. Regarding preprints, I have a question maybe principally for Christine.
[00:44:32.43] One of the things that I haven’t– the issues that I haven’t been able to overcome with preprints is about blind– double-blind journals. If you submit to a double-blind journal, then that can be compromised by having a preprint. Do you have a good solution for that or any comments?
[00:44:50.75] CHRISTINE TULLEY: It really depends on the journal itself. I think some of the more traditional journals I don’t think I’ve resolved that problem. And that is true, you would not want to do a preprint. But you can sort of– I don’t want to say cheat, but you can sort of get around that system by doing, say, a conference presentation and having it published in a conference proceedings.
[00:45:09.32] Most journals don’t usually count that against a double-blind review, even though you can find out who the author is and figure it out, it’s sort of the one loophole we all know is there. That tends to be one way. The other way is to just wait on some of those things and just submit to the double-blind because you need it for tenure. And then after that, then go for putting things out earlier. And then having the choice of other venues. It’s not a good solution.
[00:45:33.35] HEATHER STAINES: We are unfortunately on time, but I think all of our speakers will be here throughout the conference, so you can bombard them with questions. And one final round of applause, and thank you for joining.
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