Helen Eassom
Helen Eassom
Author Marketing, Wiley

Got an idea for an exciting new book? Writing a book is a huge undertaking, but one of the first steps to getting published is gaining approval for your proposal from a Commissioning Editor. But what exactly should you include in your book proposal? We’ve put together this infographic to make sure that you give your Commissioning Editor everything they need. For more information on putting together a book proposal, as well as other steps in the book publishing process, visit our Book Authors Resources pages.




     Elaine Vos
Elaine Vos
Medical Student, Western Michigan University Stryker School of Medicine


A recent conversation with a good friend of mine in the thick of the residency interview trail sent me into a spiraling panic. “Most residencies now pretty much expect medical students to have at least three publications.” Regardless of this statement’s validity, today’s medical students believe that publications are yet another item to add to their checklist of required accomplishments.  But is the motivation simply that publication is a perceived requirement for a competitive residency application? What other reasons may drive students to publish? Following some consideration and consultation with many of my classmates, I have landed on four major motivations: first, the most obvious, building up one’s CV for residency; second, a genuine interest in learning/exploration; third, a desire to share work or interesting cases; and fourth, a continuation of research from undergraduate or post-baccalaureate experiences.


Building Up the CV

Not only do medical students perceive publications as a requirement for their residency applications, but there is also the idea that there’s a preferred number of publications.. When considering the figures presented in the most recent edition of the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) “Charting Outcomes in the Match for U.S. Allopathic Seniors” (see graph below), it appears that within almost every specialty, the mean number of abstracts, presentations, and publications of matched students outnumbered the mean of unmatched students. Of course, many more considerations go into matching decisions than this one metric. However, statistics such as these are enough to seep into a medical student’s psyche and convince them that, for instance, if they do not have 13 abstracts, presentations, or publications then they will not match into a neurosurgery residency. Although some medical students may not always admit it, residency remains a constant motivator for all that we do. We did not spend thousands of dollars on medical school applications, hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical school, and countless hours of our time studying to lose out on a residency. If there is anything that will give us an edge—such as publishing a few articles—then we will go for it.


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Growth Through Learning and Publishing

All that being said, I sincerely do not believe that medical students publish as much as they do with only CV-building on their minds. Another major catalyst comes from an interest in the subject matter and a desire to expand their knowledge-base. Most medical students choose research in a subject area that relates to their desired fields while others may choose a topic that they simply want to know more about, regardless of its relevance to their future career path. Working on a paper for publication and reviewing the literature allows a medical student to delve into a subject that they are interested in beyond their medical school curriculum. Furthermore, most medical students work on publications with a more senior physician, allowing the student an opportunity to garner some expert-level knowledge coupled with a chance for networking. Medical students may have their eyes focused on residency, but none of us would be here if we did not also have a passion for learning. Pursuing publication allows medical students the best of both worlds, and more.


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Sharing Medical Discovery

Gaining knowledge from writing a piece for publication can be directly coupled with another motivation: sharing knowledge. Publishing allows medical students to not only learn, but also to add to the medical literature. A publication ascertains that the medical student and his or her co-authors have discovered or witnessed something that will contribute to the medical community. Part of the beauty of medicine as a career path is the concept of lifelong learning. Lifelong learning to me also implies lifelong teaching; all members of the medical field have plenty to learn from each other—even medical students can teach their peers and seniors. Publications give medical students this opportunity.


Completing A Research Pursuit

The final motivation stems from all of the above while still making up its own unique category: continuing research from a student’s undergraduate or post-baccalaureate experiences. Participation in research is a desirable characteristic of medical school applicants and many students choose to continue that research even while in medical school. These students maintain relationships with their previous institutions and mentors while also adding a new and different perspective to their current medical school. In some cases, they may not have been able to complete a project before arriving at medical school so instead of abandoning the project, they choose to see it through to completion (publishing).


Regardless of motivation, the process of writing for publication is beneficial to medical students in many ways. Students can hone their writing skills as early as possible and discover different strategies to sift through the constantly expanding medical literature. They can build relationships with mentors and begin to make a name for themselves in their future fields. At the same time, there’s a potential downside to this growing population of publications by medical students. First, will the “required” number of publications be capped? Will it progressively increase each year? How can medical students balance a growing demand for their time in pursuit of publications with the ever-growing knowledge base they must obtain? The pressure on medical students in our modern age is higher than ever, with medical student burnout swiftly on the rise. Will other motivations such as a desire to learn and teach suddenly be outweighed by this growing requirement? These questions must be considered by both medical students and physicians as the demands on medical students increase.



  1. Charting Outcome in the Match for U.S. Allopathic Seniors. National Resident Matching Program website. http://www.nrmp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Charting-Outcomes-US-Allopathic-Seniors-2016.pdf. Published September 2016. Accessed September 13, 2017.


Image Credit: PeopleImages / Getty Images

    Fiona O'Connor
Fiona O'Connor
Society Marketing, Wiley

Physiology: the Science of Life”, Is a free online course developed by the Physiological Society in partnership with the University of Liverpool to support the teaching and understanding of physiology. Launching on September 25th, the course serves as an introduction to human physiology. We spoke with Chrissy Stokes, head of Professional Development and Engagement, to learn more about their engagement with the youngest members of the Physiology community.



Q. What first sparked the idea to create a MOOC and how did it evolve into the final course?

A. From our extensive interaction with school teachers we know that some areas of physiology can be difficult to teach, often due to a lack of resources or to health and safety restrictions. The Physiological Society commissioned this MOOC to support the teaching of physiology in schools, to raise the profile of the discipline as a choice for further study and even a career, and to ease the transition between school and higher education. The Society prepared an invitation to a group of universities to be the Content Provider for the MOOC and the University of Liverpool was selected following a competitive process.


Q. The Physiological Society offers a variety of resources and opportunities for students, postgraduates, and early career researchers. Can you talk a little bit about PhySoc’s focus on the youngest members of the Physiology community and what distinguishes the MOOC from other initiatives?

A. The MOOC was designed to link to the A-level Biology specification from a selection of Awarding Bodies; as such it is of direct value to teachers and their students. The course employs interactive approaches to teaching physiology that provide new ideas and new resources to use in the classroom. Because the MOOC was designed by the University of Liverpool with the support of The Society, students will gain insight into the type of work they might undertake in physiology – or related – degrees at university. Footage for the MOOC was also filmed on-site in real universities, using real practical laboratories and with real lecturers, so it provides a window into higher education on a more practical level as well.


It is also important to highlight that this MOOC is available worldwide, and at no charge. We hope that this will help to make physiology more accessible to a wider demographic and perhaps encourage learners from later in life or those that have not had access to science education. Discussion forums will run throughout the MOOC to encourage interaction and spark interesting debate across the barriers of geography and finance.


Q. What are The Society’s goals for the course and how do they support your mission?

A. The Society anticipates that the MOOC will encourage more students studying biology at school to consider physiology as an option for further study: both through supporting learning but also through raising awareness of the discipline and related careers. The Society’s ambition is to promote the discipline of physiology and the research in this area, providing greater understanding of the body in health and disease.


In addition, we hope that the MOOC will support learning amongst a wider demographic that shares an interest in physiology but perhaps doesn’t have access to the excellent learning resources available in the UK.


Q. What recommendations do you have for other societies who are looking to increase support for their undergraduate communities?

A. We recognize the importance of our undergraduate community to the future of physiology and we do as much as we can to support, encourage and inform them.


We have a large and growing membership of undergraduates studying physiology and we have representatives – or Ambassadors – based in universities across the world. We take time to listen to the opinions of stakeholders to ensure that our resources and funding are used as effectively as possible. Just this year we have undertaken an evaluation to improve our most popular funding initiative, the Vacation Studentship Scheme, and we have also carried out focus groups with undergraduates, which will inform the way we communicate with them in future.


Q. Do you have plans to continue engagement with students once the course is finished?

A. The Society is currently undergoing a strategy review which will be finalized later this year. Promoting the discipline of physiology will be a key part of this, and we are excited to continue engaging the next generation of physiologists to help us ensure that physiology flourishes.


Image Credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock


    Samantha Green
Samantha Green
Society Marketing, Wiley

The annual conference is a great time for societies to engage members and energize their communities, especially around their journals.


Bringing your members and attendees together in person offers a unique opportunity to reinforce the journal brand in innovative and effective ways. Integrating the journal into the society’s larger program of activities can boost readership and allows Editors to engage with delegates and new society members. Making the most out of conferences requires close collaboration between marketers, the journal’s editors, and the society in order to create an engagement strategy tailored to both the journal and society brand.


But how can societies try new things to engage their members at conferences? How can they do it when budgets are tight and the pressure to ensure success might drive conference planning teams toward the same events and activities as last year?




We asked a few society marketers at Wiley to describe some recent experiments they’ve done at conferences in collaboration with some of our society partners. Here’s what they told us:


The International Society for Neurochemistry: Shine the spotlight on your members

Lila Huizenga


I recently worked with the International Society for Neurochemistry and the editorial office of the Journal of Neurochemistry to develop an effective engagement strategy for the ISN-ESN Biennial Meeting that integrated the journal brand into the society conference activities. In celebration of the ISN’s 50th anniversary, we launched the #WeAreNeurochemistry campaign which showcased how the study of neurochemistry has shaped the lives of ISN members and conference delegates. The campaign celebrated some of the achievements and discoveries in the field, and showed the breadth and importance of neurochemistry to the scientific community and beyond.


#WeAreNeurochemistry was integrated into ISN’s booth design, email and social media communications, and conference engagement activities - all of which were planned collaboratively by Wiley marketing, the journal, and the society. I developed a range of campaign possibilities, with different engagement activities, designs, and visuals, for the society to review and feedback on. I worked with ISN to select and combine their favorite aspects of each prototype and produced a finalized campaign combining the best insights from the society and the expertise of Wiley’s marketing team.


To engage delegates and encourage participation in the campaign, we rented a photo booth and delegates had fun using the photos and videos they created to add to the online campaign website. #WeAreNeurochemistry ended up being a hit at the conference, with almost every delegate stopping by the photo booth, entering the contest, and sharing their original and engaging entries on social media. These entries proved very useful to ISN, and will be used to provide valuable insight into the experience and values of their members.


International Botanical Congress: Engage the local community with exclusive events

Lou Crawford


Wiley recently had a stand at the International Botanical Congress (IBC) in Shenzhen, China.  Described as the Olympic Games of botanical science, it takes place every six years and is hugely prestigious.


Wiley has worked with the New Phytologist Trust for many years and is delighted to be working with them on the launch of a new cross disciplinary, Open Access journal: Plants, People, Planet.  We wanted to launch this at the IBC, as it was in keeping with the high standing of the Trust, the international renown of their current journal, New Phytologist, and in line with the aspirations and aims of the new journal.


Working as a team, we organized a launch event during the IBC and prepared materials so we could announce the new journal. This included a press release, which was picked up by local media and resulted in a short cable TV interview on the stand.


We also created branded collateral, including a pull-up banner, which helped us reveal our new logo and explain the aims and scope of the journal to delegates. The event was judged to be very successful.


International Congress of the International Academy of Pathology and the World Congress of Surgery: Make engagement fun for society members

Alix Fryer


Never start with a blank sheet of paper. Coming up with new ideas can be tricky, so taking inspiration from other exhibitors and activities you see elsewhere can be a fount of knowledge. Tailoring them to your needs can often change it significantly from your original source, but will help make it much easier than starting from scratch.


At the recent ICIAP, a few of my societies wanted to know more about the Pathology research community, so I came up with a web based game to ask pathologists key questions relating to my societies’ needs. The concept was to have a game, like Candy Crush Saga, which delegates could play for fun and relaxation, and we incorporated two or three questions between levels. A score board listing delegates’ names and scores created a competitive, exciting atmosphere. The game was really popular—word spread and suddenly everyone wanted to know who would get the highest score. Even in this light-hearted context, the answers to the questions were thoughtful and thorough.


At the World Congress of Surgery, we helped BJS broaden their reach and increase recognition by promoting both of their journals. Thinking back to a fun activity I saw for a Gin company at an airport, I wanted to create a space which the delegates themselves could personalize. To do this, I set up an area in the booth where delegates could write why research was important onto stickers and add them to our wall. We also offered a photo booth with specially designed speech bubbles pronouncing their answers. The photos and stand were branded with the two society journals and the queue for the booth extended longer than the coffee line!


Hopefully, these ideas have sparked some inspiration for your next society meeting. Whatever your engagement activity turns out to be, trying new things can keep your members engaged and eager to see what the next annual meeting will offer. Whether it’s fun, low cost social media experiments or innovative digital experiences, there’s a wide range of conference activities that can have a huge impact for your members.


Image Credit: Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock


    Graham Woodward
Graham Woodward
Author Marketing, Wiley

Researchers just starting out in their careers are the future of science. However, it’s clear that they’re under more strain than ever before, with mounting job insecurity and ever-increasing pressure to publish more if they are to cement their place within the research community. In our previous blog post, we saw how government frameworks and policies put in place to support early career researchers have failed them in the areas where they need the most help – learning how to be successful published authors.


Governments and policy makers are in a key position to help alleviate some of the problems faced by early career researchers, most of which are centered on the publication process:


Language needs

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If English isn’t your first language, publishing in an English language journal is always going to be more difficult. Language and spelling issues can lead to rejection as editors and reviewers find it harder to understand the work. For early career researchers already lacking in confidence, this can only make the problem worse.


Grant writing

Securing funding can be a long and difficult process for any researcher, but is even more of a challenge for those with less experience. If you’ve got the right knowledge and skills, and you know what a particular funder is looking for, it’s far more likely that your case will stand out.


Manuscript preparation

What makes a good manuscript? There are so many elements to take into consideration when writing and preparing an article, including structure, ethics and visual components. Early career researchers are disadvantaged simply through lack of experience.


Where to publish

Just knowing where to submit can leave early career researchers feeling overwhelmed. For those with less extensive knowledge and publishing experience, choosing an appropriate journal for submission often necessitates time consuming research.


Peer review

Peer review is a vital part of the publishing process, and most researchers  are expected to undertake peer review at some point. However, yet again, a lack of experience is problematic for early career researchers. There is a clear need for more training in the fundamentals of peer review.


For all the reasons above, we set out to find a solution that would address the needs of researchers just starting out.


The Wiley Researcher Academy

So far, author resources and training materials such as seminars, webinars and e-learning programs haven’t gone far enough in meeting researchers’ needs. In response, we’ve developed the Wiley Researcher Academy, a digital author training program designed to provide researchers with a thorough grounding in the publishing processes.


Researchers are able to study online, at their own pace, developing the skills and knowledge needed to be able to publish successfully. Although primarily designed with early career researchers in mind, if you’re a more experienced researcher looking to refresh or perfect your skills in certain areas, the Wiley Researcher Academy will be able to help. The fourteen learning paths cover the best practices and skills that researchers need to be able to gain an in-depth understanding of the publishing process:


  • Qualities of a successful researcher
  • Research and publication: the essential link
  • Funding research projects
  • Selecting appropriate journals
  • Best practices in writing scientific articles
  • Key components of a research article
  • Manuscript submission
  • Peer review
  • Open access to scientific literature
  • Managing research data
  • Ethical considerations in research and publishing
  • Roles of the publisher and journal editor
  • Post-publication activities and driving visibility
  • Becoming a peer reviewer


The Wiley Researcher Academy enables early career researchers to write and publish in quality, peer-reviewed journals, and gives them the confidence to become successful and productive members of the scientific research community.


We’ve come a long way in acknowledging the challenges faced by early career researchers. With scientific output proven to drive economic growth, it is vital that governments, policy makers and publishers alike all give due attention to the plight of those just setting out on their research careers. The Wiley Researcher Academy ensures that the next generation of researchers is well equipped to cope with the challenges of the future, wherever in the world they may be and whichever language they may speak.


For further information on the Wiley Researcher Academy, please visit www.wileyresearcheracademy.com


Image credit: Housh/Shutterstock


    Craig Stropkay
Craig Stropkay
Life Science Consultant

Reach for the stars, they said. You should definitely go get your PhD, you’d be great for it, they said. Well, I guess they did have a point. Pursuing my doctorate degree in Molecular Biology at Brandeis was definitely one of the most challenging things that I’ve ever had to do in my life. I could go on and on about the long hours I spent trying to construct my dissertation or the countless nights that I had to wake up and drive to the lab just to “feed” my cells — but that’s not the point of this post. I want to talk about something that I wish was more openly discussed when I first started my journey towards pursuing a PhD. It’s something that’s crucial for anyone currently working their way towards earning a doctoral degree: a job.


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I know what you may be thinking: why would I need to worry about a job when I know I will continue onto a postdoc and then a tenure-track academic post? Isn’t that what everyone does? That’s precisely my point. Don’t get me wrong: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with continuing a career in academia upon completion of your doctorate. It takes a lot of patience, skill, and dedication to remain in the field after you have literally spent years becoming an expert in everything dealing with Life Science. Maybe you’ve considered going that route, feeling that your choices are limited. Many PhDs believe that apart from academia, their only “alternative” option is to go into industry and work in biotech or pharma.


Welcome to a new age my friends. Contrary to popular belief, your doctoral degree can be used beyond the realm of academia.. I’d like to introduce you to a path that many do not even know exists. It’s one that allows you to use your degree in more ways than what’s assumed to be “the only way”. As the holder of a doctoral degree, you can still have prominent and even high paying research roles outside of the laboratory.


“Surveys indicate that professors often encourage their students to follow in their footsteps, and in some cases, actively discourage careers outside academia.”


I first became aware about these alternative paths when I was about halfway through my graduate program. One of my advisors, Dr. Goode, kindly took the time to set up a panel of alumni to discuss different options we could pursue outside of academia. We all met on campus, with some pizza and beer if I remember correctly, and I was introduced to some of the other choices including careers in consulting, scientific writing, and even MSL. The best part? These are just a few of the career options available, but not often discussed in the world of the PhD student.


Here’s a list of some (but not all) of the top career choices for Life Science PhD holders:


Consulting / Market Research

Consulting is an excellent career choice for PhD students because they have already selected a field to specialize in as they prepare for their dissertations. Management consulting firms look to PhDs to head positions that are specific for certain types of clients (i.e. science and technology). They are especially interested in doctorate students because they have developed a unique set of analytical skills necessary to become an effective consultant.

  • Health Advances offers consulting services within the health care industry.
  • ClearView Healthcare Partners is a boutique life sciences consulting firm based in the Boston area that provides premier strategic consulting services to biopharmaceutical companies and investors.



Although a career as a writer may seem similar to academia, professional writers do not necessarily teach students.  Your research skills and writing talent and experience will serve you well in this career.  A corporate technical writer, or even a freelance writer, are both excellent choices if you wish to continue with the writing that you have become so accustomed to as graduate student.

  • Certara is the leading drug development consultancy with solutions spanning the discovery, preclinical and clinical stages of drug development.
  • Plato BioPharma is a pre-clinical contract research organization (CRO) delivering robust in vivo physiological and pharmacological data and biomarker profiles to understand compound activity in the cardiovascular, renal, pulmonary & diabetic therapeutic areas.



Did you think that law was only for your political science and communications students?  Intellectual property firms will recruit Life Science PhD students to become technical specialists/scientific advisors who review and write applications for patents.  On top of that, many of these firms will sponsor law school tuition, so you have a comfortable salary while pursuing a law degree part time.  Once again, the analytic and research skills you’ve acquired directly transfer to a career in law.

  • Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is the premier provider of legal services to technology, life sciences, and growth enterprises worldwide
  • Clients partner with Cooley on transformative deals, complex IP and regulatory matters, and high-stakes litigation, where innovation meets the law



The good news is, you don’t have to go to business school to become an entrepreneur.  The only requirements are a good idea and a lot of perseverance and patience.  Because you’ve been spending the last few years pursing a doctorate, it’s safe to say that you have both.  Your advantage is that you know how to think critically and conduct in-depth research before making any rash decisions.

  • KOLgroups provides physician recruitment, phone interviews, and in-depth interviews for life science and healthcare market research studies
  • PathoVax LLC is developing a best-in-class prophylactic Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine technology RGVax targeting all 15 cancer-causing strains



When I say sales, I’m not talking about retail. Sales for a Life Science PhD means giving presentations about complicated products, instruments, or other tools that someone unfamiliar with the field may not be able to sell properly.  A field applications scientist in the Pharmaceutical or Biotechnical sector may be the best option for those who want a smooth transition from research to sales.  In this role, you serve as the product expert as opposed to the sales closer.

  • Thermo Fisher Scientific is dedicated to improving the human condition through systems, consumables, and services for researchers
  • Pall Corporation is a manufacturer of proprietary filtration, separation and purification products and solutions


These are just a handful of the more popular alternate career paths.Take the time to talk with your advisor and others in the field outside of academia to see what path is best for you.


Feel free to contact me via LinkedIn if you’d like to talk more or have any questions. Or, leave a comment or question below.


Image Credit: Hero Images/Getty Images


    Anne-Marie Green
Anne-Marie Green
Senior Communications Manager, Wiley

paper planes.PNGI’ll admit it. I was a little uneasy about attending The Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony this year.


But living within seven miles of Harvard University has its advantages, and the chance to attend the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony is certainly one of them. Held every September, the prizes are, in the organizers’ words, “awarded for achievements that first make people LAUGH and then make them THINK.” Actual Nobel Laureates, academics and researchers from across the disciplines, and non-academes alike descend upon the ornate Sanders Theater to laud published research that happens to be funny.


The theme for this year’s awards and the word for the audience to hoot and holler at (a la Pee Wee’s Playhouse), was “uncertainty”. A lot of us are feeling a lot of that these days. Accordingly, much of the ceremony left us scratching our heads, but in a good way.


Early in the evening The Fluid Dynamics prize went to the author who posed the question: “Can cats be both a solid and a liquid?” with his paper “On the Rheology of Cats.” We’ve all seen cats of the internet Cirque de Soleil themselves to fit into the most unlikely places, but author Marc-Antoine Fardin won this distinction by taking his curiosity that much further, to see whether cats can flow like liquids.


According to the researchers awarded the Ig Nobel “Peace” prize, playing the digeridoo can alleviate sleep apnea symptoms. Get it? Peace? While it certainly sounds like a safe and non-invasive therapy, I’m not convinced listening to the digeridoo is preferable to listening to snoring (sorry digeridoo fans).


Other prizewinning studies included a look at the neural factors that might contribute to disgust with cheese, why old men have big ears, and the effects of a vaginal Ipod-like music player on babies in utero (enough said).


Surrounding the award presentation was the usual circus of activities: paper airplane throwing at a human target, a three-act opera (this year’s drama  centered on being promoted to your level of incompetency) and an 8 year old girl repeating “Please stop, I’m bored.” to curtail long acceptance speeches, among other shenanigans.


So, why the uneasiness? It occurred to me that in a time when peer reviewed science and academic research is being questioned, discounted and/or de-funded, maybe it’s a little risky to giggle at academic research. When we’re earnestly trying to defend science and research is it safe to have a sense of humor about it?


The answer, of course, is yes. And, we must. Not least among many reasons is that one of the aims of the awards is to spark interest and curiosity in research. I’d say driving the public interest in science is an important thing to do right now. While on the surface the prize winning research may seem ridiculous, behind it there are important ideas and researchers brave enough to explore them. Let’s not forget that there has been an Ig Nobel winner who went on to win a “real” Nobel.


Beyond that, we have to have the humility to laugh at ourselves no matter the circumstance. And it’s just good fun.


After all, how many times in life can you say that Physics Nobel prize winner Roy Glauber swept up your paper airplanes?


Image Credit: Anne-Marie Green


    Anna Ehler
Anna Ehler
Society Marketing

Developing successful journal plans that support the society’s greater goals is a collaborative process that needs more than just good data. In our interview with Jo Wixon, Publisher at Wiley and an experienced journal publishing strategist, we learn how effective journal planning can help societies achieve their long term aims.



Listen to the previous episode: 4 Ways to Fight Misinformation in the News


You can listen to this episode and others – including our two part conversation with Wiley’s Director of Research Integrity and Publishing Ethics – by going to iTunes and subscribing to the Wiley Society Podcast.


For more information about Wiley Journal Insights, check out: Introducing Wiley Journal Insights – An Insight Engine for Our Society Partners


Image Credit: Ivan Smuk/Shutterstock


    Stephanie Loh
Stephanie Loh
Peer Review Specialist, Wiley     
Hannah Wakley
Hannah Wakley
Managing Editor, Wiley

There has understandably been a lot of discussion around the transparency of peer review, but here we would like to focus on transparency within peer review. Only by being open about the way peer review is conducted can authors, reviewers and editors understand their role in ensuring the integrity of the scholarly literature and meet their responsibilities. As publishers, how can we incentivize journals to disclose the mechanisms of peer review to those involved in the process?


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Encourage Timeliness and Usefulness

We need to encourage a culture of openness about how peer review works by providing a platform for our journals and editorial offices to disclose their workflows and timelines. This ideally would be set within a larger framework that would allow for comparison among journals and would help greatly in highlighting effective (and ineffective) peer review practices. We can start by telling authors the expected time to first decision when they submit their papers, to manage their expectations. We should also make sure that authors and reviewers can understand and learn from the way that a paper is assessed during peer review by sharing all reviewer comments and the editor decision letter at each stage. Already, many of our journals are doing this and it’s our goal to make this best practice the norm.


Ensure Impartiality

Journals now routinely ask authors to disclose conflicts of interest that may have influenced their research, and editors and reviewers must be encouraged to declare any interests that might affect their ability to review an article. Peer review can only rigorously assess the merits of research if it is impartial. For this reason, many social science journals operate double-blind peer review, where the reviewers are not given the authors’ names. This is less transparent than single-blind or open peer review but many are convinced that anonymity reduces the biases that might be created by knowing of an author’s reputation and enables reviewers to offer more honest criticism.


Establish Integrity

To tackle concerns about the reproducibility of research, and following the publication of the Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) guidelines, many journals are introducing ‘Registered Reports’. Authors submit their study protocols to the journal and these are reviewed before the research is carried out. Journals commit to publishing the paper in advance and this ensures that null results find a publication outlet and authors are not tempted to add post-hoc hypotheses to fit their results. An intermediate step to inviting these preliminary submissions is to ask authors to submit trial registration documents with their complete article. Undoubtedly, this improves the transparency of the research process by allowing reviewers to assess deviations from the original study protocols. However, for journals operating double-blind peer review, this can create conflict with their normal efforts to reduce bias. Sometimes Editors may decide that greater transparency is more important than reducing bias and accept that pre-registered trials will not be anonymized during peer review. Every journal will need to decide how to balance the demand for transparency in research with the need to ensure that peer review is fair.


Incentivizing Journals

In Lee and Moher’s recent Science article, they point out that journals might be reluctant to open up about their peer review process and suggest that they must be able to manage the risk that comes with the disclosure of their workflows and the data surrounding them. To do so, we need to provide journals with an environment that encourages best practice and makes it easy to implement. This could include the integration of technologies that can help detect data duplication and manipulation. It could mean a simple but meaningful annual review of each journal’s workflow, checklists and guidelines for authors, editors and reviewers, which can then be disclosed on the journal’s website in a clear and consistent manner. Each small improvement could act as an incentive for Editorial Offices to become even more open and communicative about their processes, sharing their thinking behind why and how they organize peer review. Ultimately, what’s needed is clear and rigorous policy expectations yet sufficient space for each Editorial Office to decide what best suits their individual needs.


Best Practice Standards

We believe that greater transparency about the process of peer review is necessary for the advancement of ethics and integrity in science and scholarly communications. Perhaps a first step would be for the various research communities to define what counts as best practice. To this end, we’re calling for case studies from journals that describe good practices in peer review, to help inform and inspire other editors, peer reviewers, and authors. Please, submit your case study this week, here.


With clearly defined standards, we can then assess how each journal is currently performing in its conduct of peer review. Editorial Offices will need to be willing to disclose the data necessary for the larger community to evaluate how its editorial processes measure up, using scientific methodology.  With increased disclosure of data and processes, the research community can benefit from more specific, relevant discussions as well as evidence-based guidance about what works for each discipline. And, together with the communities we work with, publishers like Wiley can continue to uphold research integrity and ethics in scholarly publishing.


Further reading:

Journals weigh up double-blind peer review.

Upholding Research Integrity and Publishing Ethics.

Promote scientific integrity via journal peer review data.

Transparency and Openness Promotion Guidelines.


Image Credit :Susan Stayer/Shutterstock


     Paul Bolam
Paul Bolam
Co-Editor-in-Chief, EJN
John Foxe
John Foxe
Co-Editor-in-Chief, EJN

GettyImages-50763107-woman at laptop2.jpgAt the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego on November 15th, 2016, the editorial board decided to institute a transparent peer review system for the European Journal of Neuroscience (EJN). For papers submitted from that day, all peer review documents including all our correspondence are available as a supplementary document attached to the published paper.  This decision was a long time in gestation and the subject of much discussion and argument, but we were both committed to open review and transparency in science and had already introduced a system to reveal the section editors dealing with our papers.  Despite our fears, apprehension and nervousness, we excitedly ‘bit the bullet’ and ‘pressed the button’ in November last year.  We are now 10 months into the new transparent system, so what are our experiences, have our fears been born out, have our hopes been realized?



  • We can’t get reviewers!  This was our greatest worry; people would be afraid to review, to be revealed and to see their comments in print. This has proved not to be the case. At the time of writing, we have invited 3293 scientists to review papers for EJN and only 18 have declined because of the transparent review system.
  • We can’t get new members to join our board of Section Editors or Reviewing Editors. This has proved not to be the case. No one has declined to become a Section Editor on the basis of the review system and only one of over 40 invitees to the board of Reviewing Editors declined on this basis.
  • The careers of young scientists will be destroyed by evil senior scientists on whose paper they have commented negatively.  As far as we know this has proved not to be the case. This was a fallacious fear anyway, as most scientists at every level, are supportive of accountable review and transparency.
  • Battles and vendettas arise between authors and reviewers.  Again, as far as we know this has proved not to be the case. And again, a fallacious fear, as rigorous, fair and unemotional discussion is part of the scientific method.  Battles and vendettas have no place in science!
  • The quality of reviews will fall. This has proved not to be the case. The reviews that we receive are just as rigorous and fair as they were before the change. If anything, the quality of the reviews has improved as the reviewers know that they will be publicly accountable for their comments.
  • The reputation of the journal will fall as a consequence of all of the above!  The opposite has proved to be the case, we are recognized for our pioneering efforts and offered encouragement from all sides.



  • We are transparent!  We are proud to be at the forefront of the movement in science to increase transparency and to improve and refine one of the bedrocks of the scientific method, ‘the peer review system’.
  • The transition between the two systems was seamless, although it does require more work in the editorial office.  However the model we have chosen is probably the least onerous both to the reviewers and the office, and was the easiest to adopt.
  • Reviewers are more prompt in returning their comments and our impression is that their reviews are more carefully constructed, more thoughtful and of a higher quality.
  • To actively take part in peer review is our duty as members of the scientific community and defenders of the scientific method.  However, it takes a considerable amount of time and intellectual effort. Transparent reviewing, together with the Publons system that we’ve adopted, documents and gives recognition to those contributing to the peer-review process.


All-in-all, we consider that we have successfully and smoothly moved into a transparent review process, we have received only encouragement and support and we urge other journals to join the ever-increasing number of journals truly committed to transparency in science.


Paul Bolam and John Foxe, Co-Editors-in-Chief of European Journal of Neuroscience, will be participating in a Reddit AMA on Thursday, September 14th from 12:00pm–3:00pm EST / 5:00pm–8:00pm UK time. To join in live or read responses after the AMA has completed, visit their AMA page and look for the post titled “I Am the Editor in Chief of the European Journal of Neuroscience, Ask Me Anything.


J. Paul Bolam is Emeritus Professor and Senior Scientist, Medical Research Council Brain Network Dynamics Unit, Department of Pharmacology, University of Oxford, UK.


John Foxe is Kilian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Chair in Neuroscience, Director of The Ernest J. Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience, Professor & Chair Department of Neuroscience, University of Rochester Medical Center, USA



Image Credit: Zaripov Andrei / Getty Images


     Elizabeth Matson
Elizabeth Matson
Author Marketing, Wiley

At Wiley, we believe in recognizing and rewarding the efforts of peer reviewers. During Peer Review Week 2016, we announced the expansion of Wiley’s partnership with Publons. After an initial six-month pilot with a small set of journals, we began the process of integrating 750 journals with Publons. The integrations, with each individual journal’s electronic editorial office site, allow reviewers to effortlessly track and verify every review without compromising anonymity or infringing on journal review models. Reviewers can use their verified peer review and editorial records in funding and promotion applications.



A year after we announced the expansion, we’re proud to say that Wiley has the largest publisher presence on Publons, with more reviews added for Wiley journals than any other publisher. More and more Wiley reviewers are creating profiles on Publons and getting recognition for their reviews:


  • As of September 8th, 798 Wiley journals have integrated their electronic editorial office sites with Publons
  • 60,870 reviewers have used an electronic editorial office integration to add reviews to their profile
  • In total, 70,747 Wiley reviewers have added 205,369 reviews to Publons


Daniel Johnston, co-founder of Publons, adds, “Wiley continues to be a trailblazer for the transparency and recognition of their peer reviewers’ efforts. We’re delighted to mark one year since we began rolling out the Publons service to over 750 Wiley journals and look forward to celebrating Peer Review Week 2017 alongside Wiley and the global academic community.”


If you haven’t signed up for Publons yet, Peer Review Week is the perfect time. Check out our partnership with Publons and sign up for a free reviewer profile to bring transparency to your peer review efforts. If you already have a profile and have started recording your reviews, you’re already eligible for the Publons Annual Peer Review Awards. The 2017 winners will be announced this week, with the top Sentinel Award announced on Tuesday, September 19th. Wiley is proud to sponsor the 2017 Awards as a way to celebrate Peer Review Week and the success of our partnership with Publons in recognizing over 205,000 Wiley reviews (and counting!).


If you’re still not sure about Publons, check out these testimonials from Publons users:


"As an academic involved in senior management, I have served on my university’s promotion committees over many years. I also regularly offer external critique for tenure panels for several international research institutions. Peer review activity is an important criteria for demonstrating an individual’s standing, engagement and contribution to their global academic community. This is always a very difficult activity to assess but with the advent of Publons, there is now scope to capture the depth and breadth of an individual’s contribution. I believe that this verified peer review evidence is helpful for all academic researchers, especially those who are seeking career advancement.” Professor Alan Stitt, Queen’s University Belfast


“Before joining Publons, I did not realise how many papers (for so many journals) I have reviewed. I am retired and now do science (both research and reviewing) as a hobby. Seeing the list of papers I have reviewed each year, gave me a sense of achievement. For colleagues that are looking for promotion or simply doing their yearly report, their Publons summary will provide excellent documentation.” Mary Jane Beilby, Visiting Fellow, University of New South Wales


Have you used Publons? Share your experiences in the comments below.


Image Credit:  Miha Urbanija/iStockphoto


     Sneha Kulkarni
Sneha Kulkarni
Managing Editor, Editage Insights

GettyImages-599104836-small.jpgScientific research is flourishing – there is an increase in the volume of publications, the number of discoveries, and the number of researchers too. On the flip side, while pushing the boundaries of science, researchers sometimes get tempted into pushing the boundaries of publication ethics. Incidents of research misconduct, especially pertaining to the peer review process, have become shockingly common. One such widely reported incident was the retraction of 107 papers by the journal Tumor Biology due to the evidence of peer review rigging. This incident brought into focus the need for transparency in peer review.


Peer review is regarded as the gold standard for evaluating scientific communication. Time and again, however, it has been targeted as a soft spot by researchers and, at times, even editors. A publication that receives a stamp of approval by experts in the field is regarded with trust, so researchers strive to build a portfolio of peer-reviewed publications. Favorable peer review recommendation is the stepping stone to getting published, thus researchers who are desperate for publications rig the process. The extreme competitive nature of academia and the pressure to publish are the most common reasons responsible for this behavior. Several institutions across the globe expect researchers to get published frequently in journals with a high impact factor. Thus, in a bid to secure their jobs and get promotions, grants, and salary increments, researchers may cut corners by manipulating peer review.


Researchers looking to influence peer review take advantage of a major loophole on the journal end – the lack of transparency. Most journals adopt closed peer review, which involves either single-blind or double-blind review systems. As the identities of the reviewers, the reviewer comments, and the author responses remain hidden from the public eye, this can serve as a cover for authors. They can create fake identities and self-review papers, and if the only person accountable for verifying the authenticity of the review – the journal editor – fails to identify this, the misconduct may never be uncovered. To prevent this, some journals such as F1000Research  and BioMed Central have adopted alternate peer review models such as post-publication peer review and open peer review to lend transparency to the peer review process.


Editors too are under pressure to evaluate the hundreds of manuscripts they receive on a daily basis and process the papers in time. Finding suitable and available reviewers is challenging, so some journals follow the practice of allowing authors to suggest reviewers. In the absence of transparency, this can provide a wide window of opportunity for authors to appoint reviewers who would provide favorable reviews. Since publishing review reports along with publications is not a commonly followed norm, authors have been known to create peer review rings wherein they create secret accounts and review their own papers to their gain without being discovered.


How can transparency help? The peer review process has existed for a century. But much of what happens behind the scenes – that is, what peer reviewers look for, the exchange between reviewers and authors, and how editors arrive at a decision – is shrouded in mystery. Making the process more lucid can work in the favor of the authors, editors, and readers. Publishers and journals should lay down the details of what happens during the review process and provide review reports alongside published papers. This step towards making the process more open will also dissuade authors from attempting to manipulate it. Editors must also build a pool of reliable reviewers to reduce the stress of finding reviewers, so that they are able to focus on the review quality and make informed decisions. Needless to say, this would also reduce their dependence on authors to appoint reviewers.


Peer review rigging is extremely damaging to scientific advancement and it is not enough to detect these incidents. While authors need to be educated about the consequences of indulging in misconduct, editors should make an effort to ensure that the appointed reviewers are trustworthy. Publishers, on their end, should consider making the peer review process more open. Peer review is based largely on trust, and to lend more transparency will require a combined effort from authors, editors, and publishers.


This blog post is based on the author’s article, ‘What causes peer review scams and how can they be prevented?’, published in Learned Publishing (DOI: 10.1002/leap.1031).


About the author: Sneha Kulkarni is Managing Editor and Senior Writer & Editor, Editage Insights. She has over seven years’ experience of working with authors. Her passion to bridge the communication gap in the research community led her to her current role of developing and designing content for researchers and authors. She writes original discussion and comment articles that provide researchers and publishers a platform to voice their opinion. Sneha likes to keep abreast of the latest developments and trends in the publishing industry and publishes content that helps researchers, publishers, and industry experts as well to stay ahead of the curve.  Her interest in understanding the malpractices rampant in academia and ways to counter them led her to publish a paper in Learned Publishing titled “What causes peer review scams and how can they be prevented?” (DOI 10.1002/leap.1031). The complete list of her published content can be found here: http://www.editage.com/insights/users/sneha-kulkarni


Image Credit: AJ_Watt/iStockPhoto


Welcome to Peer Review Week 2017!

Posted Sep 11, 2017
     Elizabeth Matson
Elizabeth Matson
Author Marketing, Wiley

peerreviewweek.jpgToday is the first day of Peer Review Week, the third annual global event celebrating the essential role that peer review plays in maintaining scientific quality. This year’s theme is Transparency in Review.  We’ll be publishing new posts each day highlighting the various interpretations of what transparency means for reviewers, authors, and editors. Get a head start on this year’s theme by watching our webinar on Trust and Transparency in Peer Review, which originally aired in 2015 as part of the inaugural Peer Review Week.


Are you an active peer reviewer? If you’ve been keeping your Publons profile up to date, you’ll be eligible for the 2017 Publons Peer Review Awards, presented by Publons. Wiley is a proud sponsor of the Awards and partner to Publons. The 2017 Peer Review award winners will be announced this week. The winner of the Sentinel Award—for outstanding advocacy, innovation or contribution to scholarly peer review—will be announced on Tuesday, September 19th.  Keep an eye out for a post later this week on how our partnership has grown.


Attending the Peer Review Congress in Chicago? Check out the Peer Review Week panel discussion, “Under the Microscope: Transparency in Peer Review” at 5:30pm CDT on September 12th, directly after the close of the Congress. If you’re unable to attend in person, you can watch a livestream of the discussion on the @PeerRevWeek Twitter account.


Check back in daily and follow along on social media throughout the week using the hashtags #PeerRevWk17 and #TransparencyinReview.


    Helen Eassom
Helen Eassom
Author Marketing, Wiley

Being a peer reviewer requires many skills, but good communication can make all the difference between a good and a bad peer review report. Both reviewers and authors want the manuscript to be the best it can possibly be, but how should you phrase your comments? This infographic offers some helpful pointers for those constructing review reports.



Check out more Reviewer Resources here.


    Josh Hendrick
Josh Hendrick
Humanities Marketing, Wiley

tara.jpgTara Copplestone studies Archaeogaming; a combination of archaeology, computer science and game studies. Her research explores how the process of creating video games can challenge our way of thinking about and communicating the past. “Unconventional research often has a hard time fitting into the traditional work-flow and publication process in academia” she says. Despite the unique challenges of her research, Tara is moving ahead with her doctoral studies and wants to encourage other researchers to do the same:


“…whenever you find barriers or hurdles to your work it is important to ask why they exist - sometimes there is a good foundation and this should be respected, but more often than not the answer is ‘that's the way it has always been’.”


Her research has seen her conducting embedded research across the scope of video game production, interviewing gamers to understand how playing is shaping and challenging their views of the past, working on critical assessments of video games for heritage settings and, most recently, taking the dive into creating video games herself as part of a reflexive investigation into the role of media in archaeology. You can check out some of Tara’s Archaeogaming work on her website.


Tara Jane Copplestone is a doctoral researcher at University of York and Aarhus University. She is highlighted as a notable early career researcher at this year’s Wiley Humanities Festival


Visit the Wiley Humanities Festival site on Thursday, September 7th and Friday, September 8th 2017 to discover more from notable early career scholars and learn about the publishing process from distinguished Wiley journal editors. Participants are also encouraged to sign up for the free Humanities Publishing 101, (September 7 at 10am EST/3pm GMT) which aims to help early career researchers navigate the unwritten rules of publishing in the Humanities.


Image Credit: Tara Copplestone


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