Helen Eassom
Helen Eassom
Author Marketing, Wiley

If you’ve ever needed to reduce the word count of a paper, you’ll know how difficult this task can sometimes be. Being able to write concisely is an important skill for all authors, but when you’ve got so much to say about your research, it can be tricky! This SlideShare from Editage Insights (used with permission) offers some quick and simple tips to help you keep to your desired word count.


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You can view the original SlideShare deck here.

    Penny Smith
Penny Smith
Senior Publicist, Wiley

As Senior Publicist at Wiley, I’m constantly on the lookout for newsworthy, new, unpublished research from the 1,700+ journals we publish, to publicize to the mainstream and specialist media.judging day.jpg


Our main media outreach tool, Wiley Research Headlines is an effective way of doing this as it allows trusted reporters to request embargoed papers so that they can research, write up and ‘break’ stories when the study publishes. As a result our research is regularly featured in major global news outlets such as the New York Times, Mail Online and Reuters.


My day-to-day dealings with the media tend to be via email or phone – usually responding to urgent requests for papers or interviews from reporters working to tight deadlines.  So when an invitation landed on my desk to be a judge at this year’s Medical Journalists’ Association (MJA) Awards, I leapt at the chance.


Here was an opportunity to represent Wiley at the prestigious MJA Awards ceremony that recognizes and encourages excellence in health and medical journalism. Little did I know when accepting the offer just how difficult it would be to choose one winner from all the excellent entries to be judged.


I joined five other judges as we were tasked to select the winning entry from the 30 articles submitted for the Feature of the Year (Specialist Audience) category. Each of the articles had been written for varied and specialist audiences in publications which are dedicated to health, medicine or science.


After individually considering each of the 30 entries, each judge was asked to submit a shortlist of five articles for further consideration. My fellow judges included a national newspaper journalist, the BMA Director of Professional Activities, a Media Officer from the Welcome Trust, a respected Media Dietician and a Media Officer from Imperial College.


We were all highly impressed with the quality and professionalism of the entries.  An important part of the judging criteria was to consider the respective audience each article was aimed at (i.e. doctors, pharmacists, practice managers, nurses, teachers) and the potential post-publication impact the articles may have.


Entries spanned a huge variety of topics and shortlisted entries included : NHS in 2017: the long arm of government (BMJ), The power of the unfocused mind (Times Educational Supplement) and MJA Awards - l to r Sian Williams Emma Young Penny Smith.jpgHello, again, Dolly (The Economist) It was difficult to narrow down the 30 entries and I was greatly relieved to learn that the other five judges in my category had arrived at similar shortlists. Even better, at the awards judging day we all agreed unanimously on the winner Emma Young and her article in Mosaic Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn’t listening.


Emma’s entry stood out for its clarity of approach to what is an important global issue. Her compelling article, we felt, could have a major impact on public policy approaches around the world.


We also awarded a ‘highly commended’ to Meera  Senthilingham for her article Sex in the UK: How Culture and Society can define your Sexual Health. Her article, published by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was well-grounded, measured, non-judgmental and covered a highly sensitive topic. It was a compelling narrative on a major public health issue.


My involvement as a judge culminated with my attending the awards ceremony at the Barber Surgeons’ Hall in London. On arrival I was delighted to be asked to represent Wiley and co-present (with Channel 5’s Sian Williams) the award for the Feature of the Year (Specialist Audience).


The event was an overwhelming success and a great opportunity for me to network with journalists from across the spectrum of press & broadcast media.


For more details on the MJA and this year’s winners and entrants visit the MJA website.


Images: Top: Judging Day;. Bottom: Left to right: Sian Williams, Emma Young, Penny Smith. Credit: Medical Journalism Association

    Samantha Green
Samantha Green
Society Marketing, Wiley

From developing a consistent tone of voice to determining how to measure your success, social media offers a challenging yet powerful opportunity to build a community for your members that Woman with tablet & coffee.jpgstretches around the world. We asked a few of our partner societies about how they’re using social media to engage their members.


American Headache Society

Matthew S. Robbins, MD, FAAN, FAHS; Chair, Electronic Media Committee AHS


The purpose of social media for us is to extend the reach of our society members to patients and the public. It’s an important information channel today; one I don’t think we can do without.


We use Twitter chats to help our members interact with the other groups we serve. In the past we’ve partnered with patient advocacy organizations in chats so our researchers help answer patient questions. By participating with other organizations, we can widen our audience and enable our members to have real impact on patient lives.


The impact of social media is hard to measure. There’s a randomness to it that makes it very unpredictable. But for our organization, measuring its success is critical for us to determine what’s most successful and also to validate the impact of social media for AHS. As part of the past couple of AHS meetings, we’ve presented data on our social media use with detailed metrics. One year, we analyzed the impact of our social media over several consecutive conferences.  We identified a significant increase in #migraine tweets during the conference from Twitter users not in attendance, suggesting that conference tweets about #migraine influenced the discussion outside of the conference itself.


Showcasing the data has led to new investments for our society: we have now enlisted professional digital marketing help to handle our social media since the society leadership identified it as a major priority worthy of investment.


See more @ahsheadache.


European Molecular Biology Organization

Tillmann Kiessling, Head of Communications


EMBO uses social media as additional communications channels to communicate news and achievements from the organization, its various communities of life scientists, and from the EMBO Press journals. More importantly, EMBO uses the capacity of social media to engage on distinct, but integrated channels with specific and specialized audiences in order to interact with them on topics of their interest, e.g. with EMBO Fellows (postdoctoral researchers) on Facebook; with EMBO Young Investigators (principal investigators supported by EMBO) on Twitter;  with scientists interested in
advancements in scientific publishing via a Twitter handle run by the EMBO Head of Scientific Publishing; and to promote the EMBO Press journals via Twitter (e.g. the EMBO Journal). Applicants for open positions at EMBO are increasingly coming to EMBO triggered by information shared on social media.


A spontaneous project which has gained surprisingly high engagement through social media and which resulted in international media coverage was the Science Solidarity List, initiated by EMBO on its webpage. Soon after its launch, it was referred to with the hashtag #ScienceSolidarity and became viral, impressively demonstrating the life science community's solidarity for their peers affected
by a temporary travel ban imposed by the Trump administration earlier this year on scientists from six Muslim-majority countries.


See more @EMBOComm.


British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

Dr Danielle Thom, Communications Officer


We used to have several different Twitter accounts for different purposes or audiences, like our postgrad activities and for our online reviews ‘Criticks.’ This year, I merged these with the main account to avoid confusion and create a more coherent online identity; now the BSECS officers responsible for those areas tweet via the main account.


My aim is to make the Twitter account informal and engaging, and provide a fairly comprehensive overview of what’s going on in the wider field of 18th century studies. We have an email newsletter which goes out to our members every couple of months, which contains BSECS updates and selected job vacancies, calls for papers and reviews. However, the Twitter account is open to all and I try to make it as interdisciplinary and comprehensive as possible. Occasionally, I will retweet things from other scholarly societies, but they retweet us on other occasions. In that sense, it’s not a competitive forum, but a collaborative one.


On Facebook, much of our content is follower-generated. I review and approve submissions from people wanting to post about books, calls for papers, seminars and other activities. In this way the society’s social media becomes a platform for our members to discuss what most matters to them.


See more @BSECS.


The Obesity Society

Tanesia Dwight, Manager of Marketing, Membership & Partnerships


The Obesity Society’s social media strategy is two-fold. The first objective is to provide the public with informative content on all aspects of obesity research, whether from our journal Obesity or from members. The second objective is to make our posts fun and engaging.  TOS is a scientific organization, but it’s also a community where our members can network, find collaborators and share ideas. A couple of social media examples are Twitter polls and society tips. On Twitter Poll Tuesdays, we ask fun questions such as our audience’s favorite TV nurse or medical drama. On TOS Tip Thursdays, we highlight past society press releases as our version of throwback. These initiatives have been more successful than we anticipated because they integrate so easily into the feed and have significantly boosted our audience engagement.


In addition to our social strategy, we’ve increased member engagement with a society blog. Our blog provides the platform through which early career members interview leaders in the field of obesity. We’re delighted to be able to facilitate these interactions between our younger members and veteran professionals.  We also include features of the TOS President and Executive Director to lend further credibility while incentivizing our members to contribute.


See more @ObesitySociety.


No matter the field, one thread running through each of these conversations was the willingness to use social media to experiment. Some things work—perhaps better than expected—and others will be less successful, but either way social media is a place where you can pilot new engagement strategies. Is your organization trying anything new? Let us know in the comments below.


Image credit: Cultura RF/Getty Images

    Rachel Smith
Rachel Smith
Journals Publisher, Wiley

As a journal publisher within Wiley’s society services team, the aspect of my role I enjoy most is working with our publishing partners to help them refine their vision and draw up strategic Journals Strat Meeting.jpgdevelopment plans for their portfolios.


Over the last 12 months I have been involved in strategic planning with a wide range of partners, from large membership organizations such as the International Federation of Structural Concrete, to smaller charities such as the Antipode Foundation. We recognize that for many of the people we work with, publishing is only one part of their busy jobs, and it is rare that they can take a whole day to focus on the longer term development of their publishing program. Feedback from people involved in strategy meetings shows that visiting the Wiley offices and hearing from a range of experts from different parts of the business is incredibly valuable. For the Wiley team it helps us understand our partners better – and I always find it inspiring to see how what we do fits into the much bigger picture.


Preparing for a Strategy Day

The process works best when we work together beforehand–ideally at least 2-3 months in advance – to define the key questions we want to answer on the day. The Royal Statistical Society, for example, wanted in particular to look at emerging fields of research, and how their portfolio could be developed to ensure that researchers would find a natural home for their work in these areas. For other journals it has been the appointment of a new editorial team, or a significant anniversary that prompts the review. In general, however, common themes have recently tended to be in the following areas:


  • Attracting the best research and increasing impact;
  • Planning for growth: expanding to cover new areas and reaching out geographically;
  • Opening up access to research and data, and ensuring policies and processes are fit for a sustainable future;
  • Optimizing workflows to increase speed and improve service to authors and reviewers;
  • Ensuring the goals of the portfolio reflect the organization’s overall mission;
  • Increasing member engagement with the publications – as authors, readers and citers;


From this we will prepare a structured agenda, and invite the people whose opinions and experience will be most valuable to the discussion. The next few weeks are dedicated to background research, and gathering data to be circulated to participants in advance: much of this will be quantitative and benchmarked against competitors, but we also seek a range of expert opinions where possible too.


The Strategy Day

During the day itself, we often start by defining the vision: I like to ask society officers and editors what they would like to be able to say about their journal, and then we can discuss what needs to change in order for that to be true.  Asking the question “if money were no object, what would you do?” also helps to identify overarching goals, so we can prioritize areas to invest the resources which are available.


We then use a ‘strategy canvas’ to ensure we cover the key questions from all angles:

  • Who are the individuals we are trying to attract, and what are they looking for? For example, reaching Early Career Scholars is often a concern, and Wiley’s work on persona development can help with understanding expectations and motivations of individuals in different countries and career stages.
  • Who are your competitors and what are they doing well? What are the gaps?
  • What opportunities do advances in technology open up, and what are the risks that we need to mitigate?


It’s not necessarily all about the journal, either – we know that access to a journal is one of the key reasons for joining a society, but a society needs to offer a range of services and benefits in order to engage and retain its members. So we can look at the website, newsletter, social media presence, book series, CPD offerings and overall membership package. For many societies a print journal has been a significant component of the membership package for decades, but as demand for print falls this can reduce costs and free up money to reinvest in other areas.


Beyond the Strategy Day

And of course it doesn’t end there! While we expect to agree upon the overall goals during the day and the broad objectives we will work towards over the next 3-5 years, a prioritized timeline of activities takes longer to draw up and will – by definition – take longer to implement. In recognition of this, the London Mathematical Society have set up a smaller working party who have met regularly since their strategic retreat, to take forward the key ideas and maintain momentum.


If you have published with Wiley for a while you will be familiar with our regular reports which cover the main publishing metrics such as reach, readership and citations. Over the next few months we will also be rolling out access to our new Wiley Journal Insights tool, so our publishing partners can check the latest figures for themselves throughout the year. However, for tracking progress towards specific objectives agreed as part of a development plan, we will agree a set of measures to report back on.


Plans will naturally evolve over time as new opportunities arise and impacts of actions become clear, and we expect to review these regularly with our partners. But having a clearly defined vision and set of overarching goals – agreed together on the basis of in-depth analysis and discussion – is invaluable in shaping our activities and priorities.


Image credit: Arash Hejazi

    Samantha Green
Samantha Green
Society Marketing, Wiley

From princes gifting private islands to scientists, to inventions bearing the names of their financiers, funding has influenced science in surprising ways. Take a look at our latest comic strip to see just a few examples of how science funding has evolved throughout the ages. Click to enlarge


Science Funding Comic Strip.png


Don’t miss our previous comic strips An Illustrated History of Open Science and Trailblazing Women in Science: An illustrated History.

The Search for Reproducibility

Posted Jul 21, 2017
    Anna Ehler
Anna Ehler
Society Marketing

In part two of our conversation with Chris Graf, Wiley’s new Director of Research Integrity and Publishing Ethics, we discuss what reproducibility really means and share how the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) works to protect research integrity.



Don’t miss part one of our conversation with Chris: Can emerging technologies bridge the peer review gap?


You can listen to this episode and others – including how to help protect research integrity and a discussion of evolving models for peer review – by going to iTunes and subscribing to the Wiley Society Podcast.


References from the episode:

  1. Research Resource Identifiers (RRIDs)
  2. Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)


    Allan Hackshaw
Allan Hackshaw
Professor, University College London

If you’re a researcher, chances are you’ll have to write a grant application at some point. This can be a really daunting process; after all, your research might depend on it. Competition for funding is increasing all the time, so how can you make sure that your application stands out? This infographic, based on a previous blog post, offers some helpful advice.




What advice would you add to the above on applying for grant applications? Let us know in the comments below.


    Roxanne Missingham
Roxanne Missingham
Librarian, Australian National University

A Trip Back in Time

Imagine you are sitting in the library of a leading university in your country. You are a history postgraduate wishing to review material on the early twentieth century. You sit with your pen and paper-there is no wifi-the collection is only print and your search for resources is through a print card catalogue. There is little space and there is a dearth of material from other countries. In fact, collection building has been interrupted by recent closures of other universities.


Perhaps you are thinking that this is a description of sixteenth century Europe, or university libraries at a time when books and periodicals had to travel by ship.


uyangon.jpgDr Hlaing Hlaing Gyi, Librarian, University of Yangon Library, in the stack area. Note the shelves are part of the building structure – ingenious design.


This situation described above is, instead, the reality faced in Myanmar (which many of you may know better under its previous name Burma) only a few years ago. Myat Sann Nyein notes that:


The years before 2011 were very dark, with all information cut off. Librarians in Myanmar worked in what felt like an enclosed society, and libraries in Myanmar were lacking new and updated materials and facilities in those days.


Acquisition budgets were small, and resources could not be ordered directly from international suppliers.



Newspaper collection at the Yangon Universities Central Library – from left Dr Ohn Mar Oo, Lecturer, Department of Library and Information Studies, University of Yangon, Professor  Ni Win Zaw, Head, Department of Library and Information Science, University of Yangon, and Ms Ni Ni Naing, Librarian, Universities Central Library, University of Yangon Campus


Building Capabilities

Fortunately, a flowering of higher education has fostered some projects in recent years that are beginning to bring to universities through their libraries the resources and capabilities that will assist in building capabilities of the academic community to both use online scholarly resources and connect to an international research community.


Libraries play a critical role in universities. They curate and make accessible collections that foster education and research. As one of the few research services available to the entire academic community, they communicate knowledge and build capabilities for researchers to harness the power of global research.


Dr Hlaing Hlaing Gyi, Librarian, University of Yangon Library and, one of the passionate advocates for development of library services has said “Connecting to the world is vital for universities to thrive. While small in number, university library staff must welcome the opportunities and meet the challenges without being afraid of current technological limitations.”


In a land where Internet bandwidth is limited, access to the Internet is primarily through mobile phones, and university libraries have few computers, we see vision and resilience.


The Open Societies Foundation has funded the EIFL eLibrary Myanmar project . Through this project four universities now have access to e-resources including over 10,000 full-text scholarly journals as well as over 130,000 full-text academic e-books and other materials. The initiative has also provided information literacy training for libraries in participating institutions.


The Challenges Ahead

Such a great development must now be underpinned by initiatives that will make online access and digital capabilities sustainable and a feature of higher education across the country. Two major sets of challenges exist. The first is to develop a financial investment that will underpin access to the resources in the future. Although many publishers, such as Wiley, very generously support access to high quality scholarly resources, the investment needs to include the underpinning technologies and user training programs.


Secondly the coming generations of library staff need to have strong digital capabilities to be able to sustain and develop services and collections in the future.


Library and information sciences now need to make a major transition. There are three universities offering programs in library and information science, the University of Yangon being the longest established and most research oriented. The University of East Yangon is also keen to make the transformation – and is seeking to work closely on developing a project to move to future oriented skills


Images Credit: Roxanne Missingham


    Anna Ehler
Anna Ehler
Society Marketing

At the recent Wiley Society Executive Seminar held in Washington DC, Neda Afsarmanesh from Sense About Science USA explored how the role of uncertainty in the scientific process can impact how research is understood by people outside of the scientific community. Scientists - and others familiar with the language of research publications - are comfortable with (and expect) the use of words like “infer,” “potentially,” or “seems likely.” But when scientific language is heard by a more general audience, uncertainty is often interpreted as “we don’t know.”


How can researchers maintain the level of uncertainty required by peer reviewers and the scientific process itself without limiting the impact of their work?


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Terms that have different meanings for scientists and the public. Source: Physics Today


Afsarmanesh, who currently serves as SAS USA’s Deputy Director, shared three case studies about communicating evidence more effectively to those outside of the research community who need to make decisions informed by scientific evidence.


Accuracy vs. clarity

In 2008, a controversy developed over whether or not turning on the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland would create a black hole. Sean Carroll, a physicist who writes for the general public, wrote about the possible consequences of turning on the collider: “Stable black holes that can eat up the world, destroying all living organisms in the process, ten to the negative twenty-fifth percent chance.” A scientist might read that and think, “Turn it on. That’s fine.” But others might read “ten to the negative twenty-fifth percent chance” and think, “So, you say there’s a chance? This could happen!”


Carroll later wondered whether he and his colleagues should even have talked about the uncertainty. Should they have left it out? What was the most ethical thing to do?


When it comes to uncertainty, how precise do scientists need to be? The level of precision to report when it comes to the Large Hadron Collider may be different than the level needed for a new potential cancer drug or the effects of climate change, but no matter the context, research can be clear without sacrificing accuracy. Be sure to add context instead of just reporting the numbers. What if Carroll had written: “There’s a ten to the negative twenty-fifth percent chance that the collider could create a black hole. However, top physicists in the field have examined the data and they don’t think it’s a real possibility, or even something to be concerned about.” Maybe the public would have reacted differently.


One study vs. a compendium of studies

Many people today can’t remember a time when smoking was not understood to cause lung cancer. But before smoking was accepted as a direct cause of cancer, many studies were done to build a case for causation and not simply correlation.


As much as scientists are comfortable with uncertainty in research, once there is a body of evidence it can lead to a certain level of certainty. However, researchers and journalists don’t always do a good job of putting scientific information into context. When multiple studies are reported in the news every week identifying different substances that could “cause” cancer, this information can feel untrustworthy.


Scientists and science communicators can mitigate the spinning wheel effect of research in the news by focusing on the bigger trends, or how each individual study in a field changes our larger understanding. Don’t focus on individual reports, instead explain how each report relates to other studies.


Words and numbers vs. pictures

When words and numbers aren’t enough, making things visual is a powerful way to communicate scientific information. But pictures can also be misleading. Compare Figure 1 with Figure 2. Which one more accurately conveys information the general public needs to know about the potential impact of a hurricane, and is easiest to understand?



Figure 1. A traditional graphic representing a hurricane cone. There is a two-thirds probability of the hurricane being within the cone, but there is also a one-third probability of the hurricane being outside of it. Image credit: Alberto Cairo



Figure 2. A modified hurricane cone, showing the wider potential path of the hurricane.

Image credit: Alberto Cairo


Looking at Figure 1, would you assume that anything outside of the cone is a “safe zone”? Alberto Cairo, Professor of Visual Journalism at the University of Florida Miami, argued that the traditional graphic is confusing, and created an alternative. Figure 2 shows a revised cone, capitalizing on the fact that most people are familiar with the idea that when something is shaded darker it is stronger or more likely, and something that is shaded lighter is less likely.


When representing data visually, scientists and science communicators can take advantage of common patterns that transcend the scientific community and make information easier to understand for everyone.


These case studies are just a few examples of how relatively small changes in how scientists and journalists communicate can result in greater understanding of the impact of scientific evidence.



Neda Afsarmanesh is Deputy Director at Sense About Science USA, based in Brooklyn, NY. Neda runs SAS USA’s Scientifically Speaking workshops, which train early career scientists on both the importance of engaging with their communities and the skills needed for successful science communication. A former scientist, Neda did her undergraduate studies at the California Institute of Technology, and her master’s degree in neuroscience at Boston University School of Medicine. Prior to joining SAS USA, Neda was senior press officer at the journal Nature.



    Adam Bateson
Adam Bateson
PhD Candidate, University of Reading

On June 1st, 2017, the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, announced his intention to withdraw his country from the Paris agreement. While the scientific community remains almost unanimous that observed changes in climate are driven by human activities, the general population remains more skeptical. It is hence crucial that the public understand and have faith in the scientific process, particularly the role of peer review as a form of quality control. Recent headlines however, including allegations of fraud and sexism, undermine this trust.


Peer review nuts and bolts 2.jpg

I attended the Sense about Science workshop, ‘Peer Review: the nuts & bolts’, as a first year PhD student intending to write my first paper; I hoped to learn more about peer review in preparation for this endeavor. Initially, participants were separated into small groups to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the present peer review process. This was followed by a panel discussion including Dr Amarachukwu Anyogu, a lecturer in microbiology at the University of Westminster; Dr Bahar Mehmani, a reviewer experience lead at Elsevier; Dr Sabina Alam, an editorial director at F1000Research; and Emily Jesper-Mir, the head of partnerships and governance at Sense about Science. The workshop concluded with a discussion on the importance of peer review with regards to science communication.


A key theme of the workshop was how early career researchers (ECRs) could and should become involved in peer review. Dr Anyogu stressed how becoming a reviewer early in her career helped her to better appreciate the feedback she received as an author. A further benefit is it provides training in evaluating research critically. Are their methods suitable? Have they analyzed and interpreted the results correctly? Do their conclusions seem valid and appropriate for the data presented? It is too easy to fall into the trap of assuming every paper published must be true. However, sometimes flawed research can make it through peer review, and research presented in conferences often needs refinement. Developing these critical skills as a reviewer is therefore valuable as a form of academic progression.


There is hence a clear reason for ECRs to become reviewers from a personal perspective, but the academic community benefits more widely. ECRs form a significant component of the academic community, and their involvement in peer review spreads out the workload, resulting in a more efficient process. Furthermore, increased participation prevents single individuals having too much influence over what theories or approaches are accepted or rejected. Panel members also suggested that, in their experience, the reviews provided by ECRs are generally just as high in quality as those provided by more experienced academics.


To become a reviewer, formal training does exist via services such as ‘Publons Academy’; alternatively, many publishers release reviews alongside the corresponding paper, providing an opportunity to see how others structure a review. Editors have varying techniques for identifying reviewers. Often authors will provide suggested reviewers for the submitted papers. Editors can also use their own knowledge of a field or assess the current research body to identify reviewers with the correct background to provide valid feedback. Candidates who have recently collaborated with any author on a paper are generally ruled out, however. Publishers often also have an editorial board or similar database of suitable reviewers. The latter provides a way for an ECR to become involved in peer review, as direct applications can be made to join such a database. This can be helped using a research ID system such as ORCID which allows editors to quickly assess an academic’s research area and output. A final point, stressed by the panel, is that you are under no obligation to accept a review offer. Make sure you are confident that you have a suitable base of knowledge to review the paper in question. Furthermore, ensure you can produce the review in the agreed time frame.


On a personal level, I found the workshop hugely illuminating. The possibility of becoming a reviewer had never occurred to me previously. I assumed PhD students did not have the experience to contribute. However,the workshop has convinced me that PhD students not only can, but should become reviewers, certainly in the latter stages of their PhDs once they are actively producing their own research papers. Peer review is crucial to the integrity of the scientific process, and hence we should all be invested in ensuring high standards of peer review.


Adam Bateson is in the first year of his PhD at the University of Reading modelling the fragmentation and disintegration of summer Arctic sea ice. He began his PhD in September 2016 after completing an integrated Master’s degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge.


Twitter handle: @a_w_bateson


Image Credit: Sense About Science


     Chris Graf
Chris Graf
Director, Research Integrity & Publishing Ethics, Wiley

Why is what we do in peer review important?

What we do in peer review and research integrity continues to earn research the place it deserves “as the bedrock of public policy and the solutions to our most urgent problems, from protecting public health to mitigating climate change.” Liz Ferguson, VP of Publishing Development at Wiley, commented at the Wiley Executive Seminar in London in April 2017 that, “Peer review is the bottleneck, or pain point, we hear most about. It’s also the single most valuable part of the service journals and publishers provide in a digital age.” We certainly hear about those pain points when peer review and the publishing process go wrong.


What happens when peer review and quality assurance goes wrong?

Retractions are often viewed as what happens when peer review and quality assurance goes wrong. They’re published when research is found to be misleading, unsafe, or fraudulent. But it is a bit more complicated than that: Perversely, retractions can also show research and editorial processes when they are working well, stewarding or curating the inherently uncertain world of research.


The uncertain world: Retractions as good practice

Retractions that signal good academic practice are not hard to find. My current favorite is the story reported by Nature of Pamela Ronald, crop scientist at University of California, Davis. When Ronald and her colleagues found they couldn’t reproduce their work on disease resistance in rice (more on reproducibility later) they went to extraordinary lengths to understand what had gone wrong, to communicate this with the editors at Science who had published their work, and to retract the paper. This is great academic practice, even though the outcome – a retraction – is not likely to have been one that Ronald and colleagues anticipated or that they were overjoyed with. Richard Mann’s story (about computational biology and shrimp) also makes good reading. The lesson from both Ronald and Mann is that retractions for honest error are good practice, and not to be feared.


Fake peer reviewers

Retractions also, of course, signal poor academic practice. The recent retraction of 107 cancer papers is arguably a case of identity fraud. These 107 papers were retracted after the publisher discovered that their peer review process had been compromised by fake peer reviewers. It's not clear that the researchers involved did this wittingly. It may have been the fault of a third-party they paid to help with language editing and submission, to help them get their work published. Spotting fake peer reviewers is hard, and this problem is not new: A little over two years ago, a publisher retracted 64 papers from 10 journals for the same reason, and the cheating gets more sophisticated.


Research misconduct

And then there are retractions for research fraud. Retraction Watch publishes a “leaderboard” featuring the most prominent offenders. Members of this gallery include researchers who committed misconduct by making up their research, with Yoshitaka Fujii at the top on 183 retractions. It has been reported that Fujii simply made up much of the data that he published throughout his career. A sophisticated investigation initiated by anesthesiology journal editors eventually resulted in Fujii’s 183 retractions. The tool used in that investigation, created by John Carlisle (an anesthetist working in the UK), has recently been used again to look at research published in more than 5000 articles across 8 journals. Carlisle’s method, and others like it, have potential for use prior to publication and as part of our editorial workflows (a little more on tools below).


Reproducibility: Research is a human endeavor

Perhaps a more pervasive problem than outright fraud is the challenge of reproducibility. While some of the headlines are extreme, there is evidence that reproducing published research isn’t always as straightforward as it should be. Natureand others refer to it as a “crisis.”This is, perhaps, an unfortunate choice of language. It is true that not everything that's peer-reviewed and published is “right,” but perhaps this should not be a surprise: What editors, journals, and publishers aim to publish is the best version of what we know right now. Science is a human endeavor. Scientific research is a messy business. It’s important we recognize that published research contains uncertainty and sometimes errors. In turn, this means that to do our job well as editors and publishers of journals, we need editorial processes, technology, and a focus on “quality” that can cope with this messiness and ambiguity. These ideas are central to the work of COPE, the Committee on Publication Ethics. COPE helps us to manage that uncertainty with clear processes – in the form of flowcharts – for the issues we’re presented with, with case histories to show us how others have managed similar situations, and with much more. [Disclosure: Chris Graf volunteers as Co-Chair at COPE].


Quality: “Integrity” first, and then “impact”

The concepts “integrity” (by which we mean reliability and trustworthiness thus, reproducibility) and “ethics” (by which we mean appropriate conduct, i.e. no fraud or misconduct like fake peer reviewers or data fabrication), and then “impact”, describe what quality should mean in research publishing.


It’s arguable that all journals could view “integrity” in a similar way. And it’s acceptable that different journals will view “impact” in a different way: Not every journal can be Nature or Science and neither should they want to be. “Integrity”− a more nuanced and meaningful concept perhaps than “sound science” – should be a benchmark for editorial quality in academic publishing. Only after assessing “integrity” comes an assessment of “impact.”


Integrity: Top areas for focus

An informal survey of Wiley editorial staff in May 2017 revealed the publishing ethics and research integrity issues that are “top-of-mind”. The figure here shows the top 5 concerns expressed by our colleagues.

Top 5.png


It’s not just Wiley employees who highlight many of these areas for focus. The STM Association creates a summary of tech trends and publishes it annually. This year, looking ahead to 2021, the STM Association’s focus is “trust and integrity” defined in 4 segments:


  • Accuracy and curation (with, for example, ideas in reproducibility, integrity checks, and editorial process innovation)
  • Smart services (with, for example, ideas in automating integrity checks and reporting guidelines, with feedback for authors to help them report their work as transparently as possible)
  • Serving individual researchers (with, for example, ideas in tracking individuals and their contributions, such as using ORCIDs and RRIDs)
  • Collaboration and sharing (with, for example, ideas in the “open” space, like open science in the form of lab books and peer review).


How we peer review and publish research at Wiley is built on the great work of our editors and publishing teams. This work is always a collaboration with researchers and academic communities around the world who write, peer review, and then build upon the work we publish with their own research. Looking wider, funders and institutions shape how we work, when they decide how to fund and reward research and academic work, and when they decide how to support researchers with training and mentorship.


I often quote Ginny Barbour, the previous Chair of COPE, who said back in 2015 that We need a culture of responsibility for the integrity of the literature… its not just the job of editors.” In my words this means that, when it comes to research integrity and publishing ethics, this is a road we must travel together.


How will we build that culture of responsibility?

Traveling this road together will require careful organization, and small, evenly measured steps. Some parts of the road we’ll run along, other parts we’ll need to walk. Our plan at Wiley, to help make our ambitions real, includes:


  1. Continued work with our virtual team of editorial, content management, legal, and communications colleagues to reactively manage concerns raised and requests for retractions, to collect and record data on trends, to manage investigations proactively where that is warranted, and to act on the insights we’ll glean to enhance how we support integrity in peer review and research publishing.
  2. Collaborations with our colleagues around the world, to make their expertise available for others to benefit from, in the form of simple guidance and advice. For example, Alexandra Cury published 5 tips to prevent peer reviewer fraud in May 2017, reflecting and sharing onwards the expertise she’s gained from her work with editors as a journal manager.
  3. Editorial initiatives and experiments designed to improve transparency and openness, and thus reproducibility. We are pleased to be an organizational signatory to the TOP guidelines. We publish several journals – the European Journal of Neuroscience in particular – that are leading proponents for “two stage” peer review adopted in the Registered Reports model. We will continue to encourage and support journals that experiment with this model, and others like it.
  4. New experiments and investments in people and technology that support editors, peer reviewers, and research and academic authors. For example, quite independently, the journal Addiction (published by Wiley on behalf of the Society for the Study of Addiction) is running a pilot with Penelope Research. Addiction uses Penelope Research technology to automatically check that the reporting standards required in its instructions for authors have been followed by its authors, and to use that automated feedback so that Addiction’s editors can better support authors before they publish.


What do you think? How might we collaborate? We’d love to know what’s top of your mind, so that we can help address it together. Please, let us know via publication.ethics@wiley.com. And thank you.


Note: Several of the themes discussed here have been covered in COPE’s Digest newsletter, using many of the same words.


     Tara Strome
Tara Strome
Assistant Managing Editor, Milbank Memorial Fund

I had the pleasure of joining a group of society and nonprofit publishing leaders for a lively and informative day of meetings in Washington, DC, organized and facilitated by Wiley staff. We met with a diverse group, including staff of the Heritage Foundation, members of Congress, and House and Senate staffers. Our main goals were to advocate for research funding and to learn how societies can engage with Congress to promote good science policy. There were several key takeaways from each group that we met with that could be helpful to societies that want to engage in the policy process as we enter an uncertain and tenuous funding environment. Expert voices are needed to influence policy and societies have a huge opportunity to engage their members in the process.




The Conservative View

The Heritage Foundation is one of the leading conservative think tanks in DC and is considered to be influential in the Trump administration. The Heritage Foundation’s view is that government should not fund any research that can be undertaken by the private sector and that any government-funded research must meet a clear objective. High up-front costs do not necessarily justify government funding. While the overall picture for research funding was bleak, we did gain a few insights:

  • Researchers will need to identify and explain the value of specific programs—and why government funding is necessary to achieve program goals.
  • Societies might engage with industry, who often collaborate on and benefit from government-funded research, on messaging around funding.
  • The Foundation was open to the idea of exploring opportunities for incentivizing increased private sector investment in research. Societies have a key role to play in these discussions.


Champions of Science

We met with several House and Senate staffers and members of Congress—all Democrats—to gauge the current mood on the Hill regarding funding and other science issues. These members and staffers are all champions of science and in general they believed there is bipartisan support for preserving most research funding, though there is great uncertainty around budget numbers right now. They all stressed the need for scientists to communicate with policymakers and provided several great tips for engaging in the policy process:

  • Scientists (and societies) should reach out to members in their own district on both sides of the aisle. Members of Congress want to hear from their constituents and it is important to engage with both champions of science and more skeptical members.
  • Be specific. Include information on specific programs, funding requests, and the value of the research. Provide numbers specific to your state and/or district, including the number of jobs affected.
  • Send letters to your members of Congress with specific requests and also send those letters to the local media. It is harder for members to ignore a letter if it gets media attention.
  • In addition to funding, members also need to hear from scientists around research issues such as open access, open data, the effects of travel restrictions and visa policies on global research collaboration, and the need for the Office of Science and Technology Policy.


The biggest lesson of the day was that there is a clear need for scientists to communicate with policymakers on both sides of the aisle, and that societies have a unique opportunity to facilitate that conversation.


Image Credit: Golden Brown/Shutterstock


    Richard Threlfall
Richard Threlfall
Editor, Asian Journal of Organic Chemistry, Wiley

Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned pro, conferences provide a great opportunity to promote your work, network, learn from others and, hopefully, have fun! But with so much going on, how do you fit it all in? This infographic offers some tips to help you get the most out of your next conference.





How do you make the most of your time at conferences? Share your own tips in the comments below.


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