Learn to be a Reviewer: Peer Reviewer Mentoring Scheme

Today is the first day of peer review week. One of the issues that many people bring up about the current system of peer review is that there is very little formal training. There are guidance documents available (including the BES Guide to Peer Review), workshops on peer review can be found at some conferences and some senior academics teach their PhD students or post-docs about the process. In general though, peer review training is fairly hard to come by.

This is something that people have told us (the BES publications team) at conferences and through surveys, so we’re doing something about it. From October 2017 until April 2018 Methods in Ecology and Evolution is going to be partnering with the BES Quantitative Ecology Special Interest Group to run a trial Peer Review Mentoring Scheme.

The trial scheme is going to focus on statistical ecology (as we receive a lot of statistical papers at Methods in Ecology and Evolution), but if it goes well, we’ll be looking at other areas of expertise too.

Applications for Mentor and Mentee positions are now open. If you’re an experienced statistical ecologist or evolutionary biologist or an Early Career Researcher in those fields, we’d love to receive an application from you. Continue reading

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BES Guide to Reproducible Code: Tips and Tricks Needed

The British Ecological Society is currently working on a Guide to Reproducible Code. This will follow on from our previous Guides to Peer Review, Data Management and Getting Published. All of our Guides are intended to provide Early Career Researchers with a concise and easy to understand introduction to the topic. You can download them for free on our website.

Each Guide includes short pieces of advice provided by academics who are familiar with the topic – and this is where you come in. We’re looking for tips and tricks to help Early Career Researchers looking to make their code reproducible and we would like your help.

We’ve set up a Google form with sections that relate to the broad areas that will be covered in our Guide to Reproducible Code:

  1. Organising Code
  2. Writing Code
  3. Report Writing
  4. Versioning
  5. Archiving Code
  6. Additional Resources

The guide is intended for people who are fairly new to coding, so please don’t be too technical. There are options to enter three pieces of advice in each section (if you’ve got more tips and tricks, feel free to fill in the form multiple times). We’ll choose the best pieces of advice and publish them in the Guide, along with the name and affiliation of the person who provided them.

You can submit your Tips and Tricks for Making Code Reproducible here. Thank you for contributing to our Guide.

Making Your Research Reproducible with R

Post provided by Laura Graham

tweetReproducible research is important for three main reasons. Firstly, it makes it much easier to revisit a project a few months down the line, for example when making revisions to a paper which has been through peer review.

Secondly, it allows the reader of a published article to scrutinise your results more easily – meaning it is easier to show their validity. For this reason, some journals and reviewers are starting to ask authors to provide their code.

Thirdly, having clean and reproducible code available can encourage greater uptake of new methods. It’s much easier for users to replicate, apply and improve on methods if the code is reproducible and widely available

Throughout my PhD and Postdoctoral research, I have aimed to ensure that I use a reproducible workflow and this generally saves me time and helps to avoid errors. Along the way I’ve learned a lot through the advice of others, and trial and error. In this post I have set out a guide to creating a reproducible workflow and provided some useful tips. Continue reading

Next-Gen Peer Review: Solving Today’s Problems with Tomorrow’s Solutions

Post provided by Jess Metcalf and Sean McMahon

640px-scientificreview

Subject area experts are asked to review a lot of papers!

The primary challenge Associate Editors face is finding Reviewers for manuscripts. When times get desperate, it may feel like anyone with a pulse will do! But of course the reality is that Reviewers need some relevant expertise. They also need to be able to carve out time from busy schedules. These two requirements are remarkably efficient at eliminating every name on a list of candidate Reviewers.

This Reviewer drought slows down the publishing process, and frustrates and stresses all involved. It also runs the risk of affecting quality – busy experts have no time to contribute to reviews of papers in their area, so manuscripts end up being reviewed hastily or by people in adjacent fields. However, so much effort goes into writing a manuscript (even a bad one), and so much in science depends fundamentally on the peer review process, that finding the right Reviewers is an important academic – and even ethical – obligation as Editors.  Continue reading

What Makes a Good Peer Review: Peer Review Week 2016

For many academics, especially Early Career Researchers, writing a review can seem like quite a daunting task. Direct training is often hard to come by and not all senior academics have the time to act as mentors. As this week is Peer Review Week, we wanted to provide some advice on what makes a good review and what makes a bad review. This advice has been kindly provided by the Methods in Ecology and Evolution Associate Editors – all of whom are authors and reviewers as well.

The BES Guide to Peer Review in Ecology and Evolution

The BES Guide to Peer Review in Ecology and Evolution

Before we dive into the tips from our Editors though, we want to highlight one of the best resources for anyone looking for peer review guidance – the BES Guide to Peer Review in Ecology and Evolution. This booklet is intended as a guide for Early Career Researchers, who have little or no experience of reviewing journal articles but are interested in learning more about what is involved. It provides a succinct overview of the many aspects of reviewing, from hands-on practical advice about the actual review process to explaining less tangible aspects, such as reviewer ethics. You can get the PDF version of the guide (and the other BES guides) for free on the BES website. Continue reading

Achieving Reproducibility in Research

Earlier this month Leila Walker attended a panel discussion imparting ‘Practical Tips for Reproducible Research’, as part of the Annual Meeting of the Macroecology Special Interest Group (for an overview of the meeting as a whole check out this Storify). The session and subsequent drinks reception was sponsored by Methods in Ecology and Evolution. Here, Leila reports back on the advice offered by the panel members.

For anyone interested in viewing further resources from the session, please see here. Also, you may like to consider attending the best practice for code archiving workshop at the 2016 BES Annual Meeting. Do you have any tips for making your research reproducible? Comment on this post or email us and let us know!

This year’s Annual Meeting of the Macroecology SIG was the biggest yet, with around 75 attendees and even representation across the PhD, post-doc and faculty spectrum. The panel discussion aimed to consider what reproducibility means to different people, identify the reproducibility issues people struggle with, and ultimately provide practical tips and tools for how to achieve reproducible research. Each of the participants delivered a short piece offering their perspective on reproducibility, with plenty of opportunity for discussion during the session itself and in the poster and wine reception that followed.

Attendees enjoy a wine reception (sponsored by MEE) whilst viewing posters and reflecting on the Reproducible Research panel discussion. Photo credit: Leila Walker

Attendees enjoy a wine reception (sponsored by MEE) whilst viewing posters and reflecting on the Reproducible Research panel discussion. Photo credit: Leila Walker

Continue reading

New Initial Submission Requirements

Submitting to Methods in Ecology and Evolution is now easier than ever!

Formatting manuscripts for submission can take a long time.

Formatting manuscripts for submission can take a long time.

Formatting a manuscript for journal submission can be time-consuming and frustrating work, especially for the first version. To make things a little bit simpler for our authors, we now have just a few small formatting requirements for initial submissions.

To have a paper considered in Methods in Ecology and Evolution it just needs to:

  • Be double line spaced and in a single column
  • Be within the word count (6000-7000 words for Standard Articles, 3000 words for Applications)
  • Include both line and page numbers
  • Have a statement of where you intend to archive your data
  • Follow the standard manuscript structure: Author details, Abstract (must be numbered according to journal style), Keywords, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion

This means that you do not need to worry about the format of your references, the placement of your figures (they can be within the text, at the end of the document or uploaded as separate files), whether or not you have used scientific names or anything else like that. Continue reading

A Video is Worth a Million Words: Why You Should Make a Video about YOUR Article

Post provided by NATHALIE PETTORELLI & CHRIS GRIEVES

Why should you make a video about your article?

Why should you make a video about your article?

With impact being considered more and more in promotion applications and REF-style (Research Excellence Framework) exercises, science communication is becoming an integral part of a scientist’s job. The problem is: most of us academics aren’t exactly trained in science outreach and our communication styles are heavily biased towards anything written, as opposed to anything visual.

With technological advancements constantly making things easier, however, more and more scientists are taking the plunge and adventuring into the world of YouTube and Vimeo to disseminate their work. But why are they doing so? Is it easy? Do you need expert help or can you do it yourself easily?

This blog post aims to answer all the questions and worries you may have as a scientist thinking of making a video about your work for the first time. To address these worries and questions in the most comprehensive way, we asked 12 authors who recently produced a video about their paper (in some cases their first) if they could give us some insights on their experience, and detail for us the challenges and benefits of choosing this style of communication. Their stories are the background to our story. Continue reading

Writing Manuscripts: The Alternative ‘Guide to Authors’

Post provided by EMMA SAYER

If the reviewer doesn't get it, you haven't explained it clearly enough! © Chelm261

If the reviewer doesn’t get it, you haven’t explained it clearly enough! ©Chelm261

“If the reviewer doesn’t get it, you haven’t explained it clearly enough!” This is one quote from my PhD supervisor that I haven’t forgotten. Getting research funded and published depends to a very large extent on our ability to get the point across. Although scientific texts appear to differ wildly from other forms of writing, a good research paper actually follows the same basic principles of effective communication as a newspaper article or advertising text.

There are some fairly simple guidelines on presenting and structuring written information to get the point across and highlight the key messages that are very useful for manuscripts, thesis chapters, proposals, basically any kind of academic writing. At Functional Ecology, we’ve collected tips and tricks from various sources to help authors effectively communicate their research and ideas. Here are our key points:

1) Know Your Audience

A research paper is about communicating your research in a way that makes sense to others. © Vinch

A research paper is about communicating your research in a way that makes sense to others. © Vinch

The central principle for any type of communication is: know your audience. A research paper isn’t just about presenting information – it’s about communicating your research to others. When you start preparing a manuscript, you need to think about who will read it. In the first instance, this is probably a busy editor or reviewer, so you should make sure that you get your key messages across without making your readers work too hard. Good science writing isn’t about using clever-sounding words and sentences, it’s about getting the point across in such a way that readers can understand the research and reach the right conclusion (i.e. the one you want them to reach). Continue reading

Maximising the Exposure of Your Research: Search Engine Optimisation and why it matters

This post is an outcome of the ‘Maximising the Exposure of Your Research’ Workshop at the BES 2015 Annual Meeting in Edinburgh (UK). If you’re interested in joining us for our 2016 Annual Meeting in Liverpool (UK), you can find some more information and pre-register HERE.

© Got Credit

© Got Credit

In recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of academic articles published. At the same time, readers are changing how they find content, tending towards a point of entry at article level as opposed to journal level. These two factors mean that it is increasingly necessary for authors to make their articles easy for relevant readers to find. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the best ways to do this.

While writing your paper, there are a few things that you can do to optimise it for search engines, such as Google Scholar. The tips below focus on three areas that are prioritised by search engines when looking for content. Following these tips will help you to maximise the exposure of your research. Continue reading