Lisa Rahmat
Lisa Rahmat
Corporate Communications, Wiley

Mitrataa 1.jpgAbandoned by her parents, 10-year-old Sushma was living with her grandparents in a village in Panchkal when the earthquake struck Nepal in April 2015. Both her grandparents suffered injuries in the quake and were unable to continue taking care of the little girl. The Mitrataa Foundation took her into their care and put her into an English-medium school in Kathmandu, while also providing as much assistance as possible to her grandparents. Sushma, who used to be from a public school which instructed in the Nepali language, now thrives in school and, barely a year after transferring to the English-medium school, is now at the top of her class.


At 16, Babanath has the weight of the world on his shoulders, but he is never without a smile. With a physically disabled father and mentally disabled mother and younger brother, the young man bears a huge responsibility for taking care of his family. Despite this, he remains passionate about learning and never misses a day of school. Babanath's family lost everything in the earthquake, but he persevered and remained passionate about learning. Seeing his resilience, Mitrataa helped rebuild Babanath’s home and ensured he could continue with his studies.


When she heard of a community in Solukhumbu needing emergency relief, 19-year-old Bandana was determined to help. She looked Mitrataa 2.jpginto various ways to get aid to the remote area and did not give up despite facing hurdles. She quickly found and got herself on a flight to a nearby town and then trekked two full days to deliver the supplies including food, blankets and tents to shelter the people from the snow. Bandana is one of the young, dedicated individuals working for Mitrataa.


Sushma, Babanath and Bandana are just three of the hundreds of Nepali individuals who have been empowered by the Mitrataa Foundation Wiley Singapore’s adopted charity. They were also three
of the several dozen children we met on our recent visit to Nepal.


Partners in fulfilling potential

With its commitment to empowering individuals to create better futures for themselves through providing education, skills training and network support, the Mitrataa Foundation makes for a perfect partner in Wiley’s corporate giving program. Wiley began supporting Mitrataa in 2009 through our relationship with founder and executive director Bec Ordish, a former lawyer from Australia and a Wiley author who had co-written a book on intellectual property. Our partnership has since grown from strength to strength, with our support extending beyond education and skills literacy programs to sustainable development plans for the communities with which Mitrataa engages.


Witnessing transformed lives transformed ours

Over five days, our team of six met and spent time with the Mitrataa team and young beneficiaries, many of whom have been directly impacted by Wiley’s funding support. We conducted educational workshops including a crash course on accounting with pre-college students and a fun exercise on story writing for a group of primary-level girls.


Eager to learn, the children took in everything that we shared and, with great enthusiasm, shared their own thoughts and ideas. Their values, attitudes and outlook on life moved us. We saw a people keen to improve their lives while remaining true to their culture and traditions. We were inspired by their resilience in overcoming adversity, passion in chasing their dreams, and generosity in helping others even though they themselves face hardship. The team returned to Singapore with a shift in perspectives and a desire to do more.


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The entire Mitrataa family welcomed us with tremendous warmth and hospitality. These girls put up a spectacular performance as part of their Heartquake launch. Heartquake is a compendium of creative content commemorating the April 2015 earthquake, with many of the talented contributors being Mitrataa children.


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In Durbar Square, Bhaktapur. We had a treasure hunt around this UNESCO World Heritage Site with the Mitrataa children who lived in the area.


Mitrataa 5.jpg


Group discussion at our workshop on presentation skills. This group decided to present on an issue close to home – girls trafficking.


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At the Bal Prativa school in Panchkal, some three hours out of Kathmandu. Mitrataa provides this community school with teaching resources, supported by Wiley funding.


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Precious smiles. Spending time with these children brought us a new perspective in appreciating the simple joys in life.


Images Credit: Lisa Rahmat


    Catherine Bowley
Catherine Bowley
Author Marketing, Wiley

Who does what and when during the peer review process?  In the second of three brief videos, We explain the process, from first submission to next steps following an editor’s decision, and how the reviewer can help improve the integrity of a scholarly article.


    Catherine Bowley
Catherine Bowley
Author Marketing, Wiley

Ever wonder why peer review is so important? In the first of three videos on the topic, we explain the concept of peer review, who undertakes it, and why it is so important to make scholarly articles as high-quality as possible. Find it useful? Feel free to share with your friends and colleagues.

peer review.PNG

    Sarah Garfunkel
Sarah Garfunkel
Society Marketing, Wiley

Administration_Building_Carnegie_Institution_of_Washington.jpgOne thing is certain: most of us are going to die a horrible, disease-laden death.


This thought crossed my mind more than once during science journalist Sonia Shah’s keynote address, which both inspired and shocked the room full of society leaders at the Wiley Society Executive Seminar, which took place last month in Washington, DC. Shah’s address discussed the themes of her most recent book, Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond, and elaborated on the medical, environmental, social, and even economic forces that explain how and why regular microbes and familiar pathogens can suddenly become pandemics.


In keeping with the theme of the seminar, “Reaching Across Research Boundaries to Solve Global Challenges,” Shah described the inevitability of another pandemic, while also challenging those in the room to consider how we can collaborate to combat such devastation. After all, Shah posited, pandemics are not solely a biological, environmental, social, economic, ethical, or political issue, but rather all of these combined. Preventing them will take leading scientists and researchers from every discipline working together to find vaccines, minimize the spread of pathogens, develop better infrastructures for applying aid, and more.


During her talk, Shah outlined some of the interrelated factors that have contributed to the past seven cholera pandemics in recorded history, which have claimed the lives of more than 40 million people around the world. Research on these factors comes from all corners of the academic spectrum, from history and ethics through biomedicine and ecology:

  1. Human invasion of wild habitats: The bacterium that causes cholera thrives in water, so when habitats such as wetlands are invaded, humans and pathogens
    start to interact.
  2. New modes of transportation: A trip across the ocean that once took eight weeks can now be done in hours, which leads to the more rapid dissemination of pathogens.
  3. Rapid urbanization: As human migration travels from rural areas to industrial cities, overcrowding leads to the easier transmission of pathogens.
  4. Sanitary crisis: A corollary to urbanization, overburdened and outdated waste disposal systems result in sewage mixing with the drinking water supply.
  5. The rise of private interests: In the face of actions that could have contained outbreaks, such as quarantines, companies advocated to keep transit open so as
    not to disrupt trade.
  6. Outdated medical theories: Because the prevailing theory of the time was that pathogens were airborne instead of waterborne, efforts to clean the air resulted
    in more waste in the water system.

As Shah created this thought-provoking picture, she pointed out that it’s not a matter of whether another pandemic will hit, but rather which one. Murmurs of unease spread through the room. Yet as attendees absorbed this fact, many acknowledged the challenges inherent in working across geographic, institutional, and disciplinary boundaries, while expressing determination to do just that in the same breath.

During the question-and-answer session that followed, the challenges of interdisciplinary efforts were brought to the forefront. Muhammad Zaman, a professor in biomedical engineering at Boston University and Seminar presenter, pointed out that one challenge to successful interdisciplinary collaboration is the lack of integration between academic departments. He stated that in order to create the space for multidisciplinary research post-graduation, there must be a way to incentivize such work in university classrooms. Another attendee noted the need for collaboration when asking, “Why do institutions teach scientific approach to epidemics and ignore the role of history and social sciences?”—a fundamental query that left nearly all heads nodding in agreement.

The atmosphere in the room after Shah’s address was energized and resolute (although many, like me, hastily reached for hand sanitizer afterward). Sitting in the audience, among the leaders of dozens of societies which represent tens of thousands of researchers around the world, there was a certain confidence that the tools and knowledge to make progress on global issues like pandemics are within our collective reach. By emphasizing the need to collaborate, and to work together on a global scale, Shah’s talk could not have been more fitting to set the stage for a day filled with presentations featuring examples of how to reach across the boundaries of the university or discipline to focus on society at large.

How do you think researchers can better work together across disciplines? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @WileyExchanges.


Sonia Shah is a science journalist and the prize-winning author of Pandemic: Tracking Contagions from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond, as well as The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years, The Body Hunters: Testing New Drugs on the World’s Poorest Patients, and Crude: The Story of Oil.


Image: Carnegie Institution of Washington. Photo credit: Alexandra Smith


    Chrs Elliot
Dr. Chris Elliot
Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health

The Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health (JPCH) is an official journal of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and has been in print for over 50 years.  In 2013 the journal implemented a social media strategy for the first time.  In two years the journal has used its social media presence to achieve multiple meaningful goals with a small team and very low costs. 

JPCH tweet.jpgWe started with a clean slate.  JPCH already had an online version of the journal but had never had a social media presence. I was very aware that we needed to have clear goals or we could spend a lot of time and energy online without achieving anything meaningful.  Our strategy was guided by two principles:

  1. Be useful:
    1. To our readers, our authors and to the Board
    2. To achieve this by making it easier to find and promote articles, and to be more engaged
      with topics of interest to the journal such as refugee health – see below.
  2. Promote the journal:
    1. Increase our online article downloads and page views
    2. Broaden our audience both geographically and beyond our particular professional group

We started by examining what other journals were doing in social media.  We discovered two key things that influenced how we measured the success of our strategy:

  1. Developing a social media following takes time – years not months
  2. Visibility on social media does not equal lots of readers.  On average on Twitter about 1 person in every 1,000 who sees a tweet will click through to the article.

Finally, it was important that the journal was its own presence on social media, not simply a subset of my own (or anyone else’s) personal social media profile.  This had two benefits:

  1. Other people can join our social media team behind the scenes without any change to the journal’s public identity
  2. If I leave this role I can hand over the journal’s whole social media presence simply by transferring passwords to the next editor.  None of my personal accounts are tied up in the journal’s operations.

We achieved this independence by registering the domain name JPCHonline.com with Google Apps.  It gives us an email address and the ability to create simple websites. 
Finally, I use a range of tools to help create and manage shareable social media content from the articles we publish in the journal.  All in all we spend about $250 per year on our social media presence.  There are
more details on these at


JPCH has a profile on Twitter and Facebook as well as an online portal [www.JPCHonline.com].  Even our relatively small number of followers equals a significant number of people reached over time: as of March 2016 posts to our social media accounts were reaching more than 135,000 people per year.  Most importantly, these readers are not our traditional audience and they engage with our articles in a completely new way.


The JPCH board has spoken out strongly against the mandatory detention of children seeking asylum in Australia.  We created a simple website for other media and interested lay people, and our social media presence has allowed us to engage in the public debate in real-time.  We have also been able to promote the academic articles we published on this issue to a general audience.
Through social media a single article on this issue was seen by over 300,000 people – almost none of whom would ordinarily know about or access our journal.


Finally, the JPCH board decided in 2015 to create a dedicated space in the journal for patients and their families to communicate their experience of healthcare to health professionals. Very few journals in our field do this.  We used social media to promote the initiative and it has led to eight accepted articles in just six months.  Patients and parents are not the usual audience for our journal and social media was the perfect way to reach out to them.



Creating a social media strategy, online profiles and engaging in social media for JPCH has been a time-consuming yet wholly rewarding experience.  Having a supportive Board and publishing manager have been crucial, as there are risks as well as benefits to increasing our online profile.  Two years after starting we now have an established platform and have achieved meaningful goals.  The Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health is unlikely to ever have the largest social media presence, but what we have has still been well-worth the effort.


Benefits of Implementing a Journal Social Media Strategy:

“One major aspiration when I started as Editor-in-Chief in 2009 was to help paediatricians feel more involved with their own JPCH. I wanted to create conversation rather than monologue. My senior colleagues who were social media savvy were time-poor. The challenge was to find a keen, young doctor who understood the social media and the paediatric issues and had time, energy and enthusiasm. Luckily I found Chris Elliot, or even better he found me.”

Professor David Isaacs,
Consultant Paediatrician and Editor-in-Chief


“Many of the topics mentioned in JPCH are topics also discussed in mainstream media—things like breastfeeding, vaccines, nut allergies and the plight of refugee children. Chris has managed
to inject the journal into these discussions, ensuring these discussions were tempered with good science and exposing the journal to a new audience. “

Julia Ballard, Senior Publishing Manager

For more information or to contact the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health Web: JPCHonline.com | Twitter @JPCHonline | Facebook /JPCHonline

For more information or to contact Dr Chris Elliot  Web: DrChrisElliot.com.au/bio | Twitter @DrCElliot


Image credit: @JPCHonline


    Tess Barrett
Tess Barrett
Library Services, Wiley

batgirl.pngLibrarians and their libraries have become staple images of popular culture, symbolizing a source of knowledge, comedy, romance, and adventure. Common depictions of librarians and information professionals represent a stodgy spinster waiting to break free from the perceived oppression of their librarian identities. This character trope, dubbed the ‘Liberated Librarian’ by pop culture blogger and real life librarian Jennifer Snoek-Brown of Reel Librarians, appears in countless media. The following list of film and TV characters represents the true diversity of librarians who break the mold of the ‘Liberated Librarian’ stereotype to redefine and liberate themselves through their librarian identities.


1. Bunny Watson – Desk Set (1957)


Legendary romantic Hollywood duo Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy star as opposite sides of the information profession in a film that evolves from a run-of-the-mill battle of the sexes into a playful examination of 1950s librarianship.


Lesson: Bunny Watson’s acceptance of the computer foreshadows the present-day co-existence of librarians and technology.. Nowadays, technology fosters rather than hinders the work of modern librarians, aided by the position of many librarians and libraries at the forefront of tech developments – and by the fact that computers no longer take up entire warehouses.


2. Alicia Hull– Storm Center (1956)


In this 1956 film, Bette Davis, another iconic silver screen star, plays a stalwart librarian battling the encroaching McCarthyism that threatens the democratic integrity of her collection. The creation of Davis’ character Alicia Hull was inspired by real-life activist librarian Ruth W. Brown who advocated desegregation and is the first librarian to be recognized by the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the American Library Association.


Lesson: Libraries and librarians are evolutionary and potentially revolutionary spaces and people. The power of knowledge can be wielded for both positive and negative purposes, but the most effective weapon to ensure a negative outcome is ignorance. Empowered librarians can better serve the intellectual needs of their communities and fully realize their abilities to abate the impending threat of ignorance.


3. Library Defense Force – Library Wars live-action film trilogy (2013-2015)


In the same vein as Storm Center, the Japanese series Library Wars envisions a near-future suffering severe censorship at the hands of the nefarious Media Betterment Act. The law dictates that any extra-governmental publication that is seen as harmful to society, and later any self-expressive media, is banned, confiscated, and eliminated.


Lesson: Library Defense Force emphasizes the agency of libraries and represents the possible strength of information professionals when united. The films also reveal an interesting dynamic between libraries, seen as powerful bastions of expressive freedom, and governmental bodies attempting to suppress them. Ultimately, one message rings loud and clear – don’t mess with Japan and its libraries.


4. Rupert Giles – Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)


Rupert Giles, perhaps the best-loved character of this list, is the guardian and mentor (Watcher) for destined vampire-slayer Buffy Summers. Portrayed by British actor Anthony Stewart Head, Giles works as a librarian at Sunnydale High School in order to keep tabs on his Slayer – and any overdue library books. Although famously wary of using technology, he is not afraid to dust off his books and dig his teeth into research to resolve whatever apocalyptic force threatens his team of teens.


Lesson: As well as teaching the Scooby gang a healthy respect for resources, Giles acts as a guide, educator, and advocate of patron interaction. While he may not be the best librarian role model – notably for facilitating his students in slaying mythological creatures – he does show the importance of librarian-patron interaction, represents the librarian as a stable source of knowledge, and demonstrates that one should never fear with a librarian in one’s corner.


5. Barbara Gordon – Batgirl (1967- )


Barbara Gordon, the daughter of Batman’s go-to police officer Commissioner Gordon, is the crime-fighting Batgirl and includes in her impressive credentials a doctorate in Library Sciences. Quick of mind and body, Barbara uses her intellect – honed by years of information research – to solve whodunits and defend the weak.


Lesson: Masked or not, librarians can be dynamic, multi-faceted people who use knowledge as a powerful tool for societal improvement. The less relevant but still implied message is that a librarian is a great cover for a superhero– in either case, the meaning is clear: don’t underestimate them.


6. Flynn Carsen – The Librarian film franchise (2004-2008)


While being a librarian is a great superhero cover for Batgirl and Black Mask, Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle) uses his research skills and knowledge to become a superhero-like figure known as The Librarian. Flynn changes from a bumbling academic hiding in his ivory tower into a swashbuckling academic climbing temple walls, cracking ancient mysteries, and recovering magical artifacts – all through the power of The Library.


Lesson: The overarching messages of Flynn’s quests are that knowledge can be fun and exciting – and learning itself is an adventure. While all librarians can’t live the Indiana Jones style life, being a librarian is a flexible position in a diverse field and a near-endless amount of variations. As Flynn professes to his disapproving mother at the end of the first film, “Being a librarian is actually a pretty cool job.”


7. Sipho Makhaya – Nothing but the Truth (2008)


While Flynn Carsen is a fictionalized heroic librarian, the character Sipho Makhaya was inspired by a real one. This South African film is based on the one man show of playwright, actor and director John Kani depicting the trials and tribulations of a librarian as he navigates the aftermath of Apartheid and the death of his exiled brother.


Lesson: Libraries, and librarians, are essential parts of culture, and, while this particular librarian is not fighting for his library, he still remains true to his position as a proponent and guardian of truth. Furthermore, libraries may not currently be centerpieces of Nollywood cinema, but Sipho creates hope that their continued cultural relevance will lead to greater African pop culture representation.


8. Evelyn ‘Evie’ Carnahan – The Mummy (1999)


On the other end of the African continent, the fully-fictional Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) is firm in her identity as an Egyptologist, and, while clumsy and library-destroying at times, is ultimately the brains of the operation to uncover the long-lost Book of the Dead. Her rugged counterpart Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) believes he has liberated her from the stuffy stacks of her Cairo library, but Evie does not share his arrogant assertions. Instead, she drunkenly professes, “Look, I… I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O’Connell, but I am proud of what I am. I… am a librarian.”


Lesson: Of Evie’s quoted list of professions, few of the former is effective without the latter – librarians are the Swiss army knives of occupations, accounting for knowledge and information across a diverse range of fields. Evie’s character also emphasizes a much-deserved pride in library services that, while not particularly educational, serves as a satisfying reminder to librarians of their participation in a noble profession.


9. Mary – Party Girl (1995)


Most librarians like Evie enter into the profession eagerly, but Parker Posey, as the eponymous ‘party girl’ Mary, must work as a library clerk in order to repay a loan. Like many movie-goers exposed to the stereotypical depictions of librarians and libraries, Mary initially resists the constraints of library life but, thanks to a midnight dance party and newfound passion for the Dewey Decimal categorization system, finds her calling in library sciences.

Lesson: Libraries and their librarians have personality and embrace people from all walks of life. As seen in Mary’s unique experience and the inventive film distribution, diversity and innovation go hand-in-hand, with acceptance and implementation of one naturally leading to the other. Party Girl demonstrates the ability of libraries to serve multiple members of the community – and, most of all, the importance of proper categorization systems.


10. Mr. Dewey– The Pagemaster (1994)


Many of the library lessons represented in the aforementioned films are translated and mediated to a younger audience through the lighthearted film The Pagemaster, starring Christopher Lloyd and Macaulay Culkin. Mr. Dewey (Lloyd) is the mystical librarian and titular Pagemaster, “the keeper of the books, the guardian of the written word,” who enables young Richard Tyler (Culkin) to begin his adventure alongside anthropomorphic animated books with the simple gift of a library card.


Lesson: Libraries and librarians are just the beginning; they act as initiators and facilitators of knowledge. Nurturing a life-long love for reading and an appreciation for libraries at a young age can arise from the libraries and librarians themselves. Not only could this lead to greater overall literacy, but also empower children to become information-seekers and boldly engage with the adventure of learning.

Even if they’re largely fictional, these TV and movie librarian characters can still teach us a thing or two about reality. The diversity of these figures demonstrates how librarians can do so much and further affirm their frequent use within popular culture. From vampire slayers to freedom fighters, these characters all share an identifier as librarians – representing the profession with the pride it deserves and the adventure it possesses.


Share your favorite librarian characters in the comments below, or tweet us @WileyLibInfo.


Image credit: Tess Barrett


    Helen Eassom
Helen Eassom
Author Marketing, Wiley

WAS author story image.jpgEarlier this year, we launched our #becauseofyou campaign, celebrating the amazing work carried out by authors, researchers, reviewers and editors. As part of the campaign, we asked you to submit your stories of inspiration and motivation, and the response was fantastic. We wanted to explore some of your stories further, so over the next few months we’ll be sharing some of these on Wiley Exchanges. The first of these stories has been written by early career researcher, Pishoy Gouda:

Growing up, I loved asking how things worked! Up to the point that one Sunday morning I wanted to figure out how my TV worked, so naturally I took it apart entirely and much to my parents’ dismay, was never able to put it back together!

As I grew older, my curiosity only grew and I dove into the world of biology, trying to figure out how the human body “worked”. That path led me to apply to medical school at the National University Ireland, Galway. Now at this stage, the very mention of “research” made me queasy.  As a medical student, the concept of research is incredibly intimidating.  Having to join the world of experts answering clinical questions that guides medical practice is a steep learning curve. I was really fortunate to have some amazing mentors to guide me through the process.

I remember my first summer research experience; I had the opportunity of working on an amazing project looking at the ability of the electrocardiogram to predict mortality and re-hospitalization in patients with acute heart failure. My mentor and supervisor Dr. Ezekowitz always pushed me to ask questions. What is our research question? Why is this question important? How can we go about answering this question? What do our results mean? What are the implications of our results? As a first year medical student, I really didn’t have the answer! But over a course of several summers, I was guided through the process of examining the literature, designing a project and got some results!

Comparing my experience to those of my peers, I realized this was quite a unique early research experience. To me, research is all about asking clinically focused questions that will help guide clinical practice. I think that is something that medical students all too often don’t get to experience!

So my advice to any medical student hoping to get a flavor of what research is all about is to first brainstorm about a particular aspect of medicine (in my case, Heart Failure) that interests you. Then explore a few clinical problems that remain in that field, for example, how can we risk stratify patients with acute heart failure. At this stage, you are ready to start looking for a mentor that has similar interests. Once you’ve found a match an honest discussion about what you are hoping to achieve from your research experience will help your supervisor tailor your project to suit your objectives.

I was incredibly fortunate to get inspired during my very first research experience and have continued to hone my research skills. After graduating medical school, I started my masters in clinical trials at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and have now started my Internal Medicine Residency at the University of Calgary. So for all medical students exploring research I would urge you to remember that research is more than just a right of passage, it’s an opportunity to ask questions and through your results, shape how we practice medicine in the future!

Pishoy graduated medical school with honors from the National University of Ireland, Galway in 2015 and is currently enrolled in a MSc in Clinical Trials at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a PGY-1 Internal Medicine Resident at the University of Calgary.

    Verity Warne
Verity Warne
Associate Marketing Director, Author Marketing, Wiley

Peer Review Week 2016 Banner_620x315.jpgFollowing the success of last year’s inaugural event, we are delighted to announce that the 2nd Peer Review Week will be held September 19th through the 25th 2016.

Peer Review Week is a global event celebrating the essential role that peer review plays in maintaining scientific quality. The event brings together individuals, institutions and organizations committed to sharing the central message that good peer review, whatever shape or form it might take, is critical to scholarly communications.

Having been one of the four organizations that founded Peer Review week last year, we’re delighted that the planning committee has swelled considerably with organizations representing a whole range of perspectives and stakeholder groups.

This year’s theme is Recognition for Review, exploring all aspects of how those participating in review activity - in publishing, grant review, conference submissions, promotion and tenure, and more - should be recognized for their contribution.

Planned activities include virtual and in-person events including webinars, videos, interviews and social media activities designed to improve understanding of the principle of peer review and how it is practiced within the scholarly community.

We will also feature a comprehensive list of online resources to advance our understanding of peer review and its role in 21st
century scholarship.

If you have a resource for reviewers, or an event that you’d like featured on the Peer Review Week website, please send contributions to PRWeek@aaas.org

Join the conversation on Twitter #PeerRevWk16 and #RecognizeReview

From researcher to librarian, research manager to publisher, editor to policy officer, be part of the action at www.peerreviewweek.org.

Image credit: peerreviewweek.org

    Jonathan Foster
Jonathan Foster
PhD, Materials Science, University of Cambridge

lottery ball.jpgPerhaps peer review is like democracy: the worst system, apart from all the others. As an early career researcher, the review process can often feel like a lottery, with the same paper receiving high praise from one reviewer and scathing criticism from another. Sometimes it feels like it matters more who reviews your paper than what you’ve put in it. Unfortunately for the author, but fortunately for science in general, we don’t get to pick our reviewers. I’ve put together some tips that I’ve learned during my publishing career so far, none of which will make up for shoddy work or uninspiring ideas, but at the margins they might just help your paper get the review it deserves.


Pitch to the right audience


Typically reviewers are selected because they have expertise in a particular aspect of a paper, but it is unlikely that they will be experts in every aspect of the research. This is particularly true for research that is innovative and brings together multiple techniques and ideas from different fields. Making sure that the emphasis of the paper fits with the community you are trying to target will steer the editor to appoint reviewers from those areas. Editors often have little time to assign reviewers to a paper and may make their decisions based on the focus placed in the title, covering letter, keywords and abstract. Ensuring that these aspects fit the description of the reviewers (and hopefully audience) you are trying to reach will again improve your chances of getting a reviewer who at least understands what you are trying to achieve.


Get connected


When you shop in a supermarket you are more likely to trust the brands that you recognize. The same is true with researchers. Reviewers have a remit to be as objective as possible, but publicizing your work at conferences and building networks within your community can help build visibility and understanding for your research.  Cultivating a broad network of peers who are familiar with you and your work means that (hopefully) you will get reviewers who start off with a positive impression of your work and an understanding of your previous achievements and broader vision.


Suggest suitable reviewers


Some journals ask authors to suggest researchers who would be suitable to review their work and allow you to exclude people where there is a conflict of interest. Conflicts of interest arise when the reviewer stands to gain from publication of the paper or where they are likely to be unduly biased by a personal connection. Researchers at the same institution or with whom you have recently collaborated or have a close personal connection should not be put forward and anyone with a financial interest in the outcome of the paper should be declared. It is acceptable to ask editors to exclude groups who are in direct competition with you or with whom you have a personal conflict. For early career researchers this can often mean everyone they know who might be relevant is excluded for one reason or another. Taking time to look in the literature and speak to more senior colleagues about who would be good to suggest means the editor at least has the choice to select one of your preferred reviewers.


Cite the right work


Obviously, no academic would be swayed by the prospect of gaining citations by recommending a paper be accepted. However, if someone’s work wasn’t relevant enough to your paper to justify referencing them, they are a less obvious person for an editor to select. If the editor does pick reviewers whose work you’ve cited, the reviewer has at least some investment in the outcome of the paper. Of course, if the editor doesn’t pick your chosen reviewer, then one of their competitors may wonder why you’ve chosen to focus so much on another person’s work ... and will probably suggest some appropriate citations of their own to balance things out. In the end, those you’ve cited (and those you chose not to) may end up as your reviewers so make sure you have a good spread of relevant references from leading researchers in the area.


Know thine editor


Ultimately, the editors have more power than the reviewers in deciding whether or not an article gets published. Taking the time to format a paper according to the editorial guidelines shows the editor you are committed to publishing in their journal and implies less work for them. Building a relationship with editors by introducing yourself at conferences, being prompt and courteous in your correspondence and accepting the odd invitation to be a reviewer yourself can’t hurt either!


Image credit: zentilia/iStockphoto


    Helen Eassom
Helen Eassom
Author Marketing

Peer review is vital in safeguarding the quality and integrity of scientific and scholarly research. However, it can be a minefield for authors, especially those less familiar with the publication process. We’ve put together this infographic which summarizes the peer review process, the types of decision and reasons for rejection, as well as six top tips for surviving peer review!


Peer review for authors.jpg


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