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Peerspectives

Peer review training initiative for the biomedical sciences

Peerspectives is a training program for early career scientists in biomedical fields. Using this program as a vehicle, we aim to train early career researchers to better understand the scientific peer review process and its integration into larger scientific publishing structures. Equipped with this knowledge, we hope successful participants can become better peer reviewers and improve their own manuscript writing. 

 

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About the program

Peer review is a key component of the current academic publishing landscape, and yet, the vast majority of early career scientists never receive formal training on how to conduct such reviews. This training is of extreme relevance and importance to our target group of up-and-coming scientists, the large majority of whom are in the process of drafting complete publication-based doctoral dissertations.

Peerspectives is a semester-long course that provides the theoretical background knowledge needed for high-quality peer review practice as well as a thorough, critical examination of the scientific publishing system and processes. These elements are supplemented by hands-on workshops, in which “live” manuscripts provided by a partnering scientific journal (currently The BMJ) are reviewed in small groups under the supervision of experienced editor-mentors. Through this combination of lectures and workshops, participants will be equipped not only to provide more concise, comprehensive and coherent feedback effectively, but also to write higher quality manuscripts of their own. Upon completion of the course, participants are offered the opportunity to listen in on a manuscript meeting of the partnering journal’s editorial team to gain insights into the editorial decision-making process.

In its current format, we have designed the course for methods-focused doctoral students in the domains of (bio)medical sciences and population health. Further extensions to include adjacent domains and to appeal to a wider participant pool and involve additional partnering journals are currently in development. Additionally, we are currently developing open-source train-the-trainer materials to enable the course to be formally launched in other settings by other motivated groups around the globe. 

To evaluate whether the completion of this program within the ongoing doctoral studies framework has an effect on the quality of peer-review among motivated doctoral students, a confirmatory study with pre- and post-assessments is currently underway (protocol will be posted here: https://osf.io/wyegc/).

Training Course Logistics

The course, rooted in the Health Data Sciences PhD program at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin as an elective course, is currently offered in both winter and summer semesters (with pre-course assessments starting in March and September of each year). Health Data Sciences program students have priority for enrollment, however, several spots are made available to other PhD students both within and outside of Berlin as well as recent post-doctoral graduates with demonstrated motivation and prior methods training (e.g. epidemiology, biostatistics). Depending on the total number of interested students and available mentors in a given semester, please understand that we may need to make a selection among interested applicants, and you may be placed on a waiting list or asked to apply again in a future semester.

There are no fees to take part in the course, and Charité PhD program students can earn 4 ECTS credit points upon successful completion. Please note that full attendance at all 8 sessions is mandatory, so please carefully check the timetable below and mark your calendars accordingly when registering. If you will not be able to attend all of the lecture and workshop dates advertised for the upcoming semester, please consider participating in a future semester instead.

The effectiveness of this program will be formally assessed through a comparison of pre- and post-assessments, which will be scored by independent BMJ editors. Course participants will be invited to take part in this scientific evaluation study and asked to provide written informed consent. Participation in the scientific study of the Peerspectives training course is optional and will not impact your experience within the course in any way.

At present, all lectures and workshops are held digitally (using Zoom) in accordance with current COVID-19 safety measures and to facilitate participation of attendees outside of Berlin. For further information on Peerspectives including course dates, application periods and upcoming deadlines, please see our latest updates on https://osf.io/wyegc/.

Applications typically open in early February, as well as late July. A syllabus containing detailed information regarding the content and structure of the course will be provided to confirmed registrants.

Funding

Peerspectives is currently supported by a SPOKES Wellcome Trust Funded Translational Partnership Fellowship of the QUEST Center, Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) and the Institute of Public Health at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

If you are a representative from a funding body and would consider supporting our initiative in future semesters, please contact us using the contact form.

Peer Review (Training) in the media

Forthcoming: preprint about ECR initiatives (including peerspectives) 

Prof. Tobias Kurth, director of the Institute of Public Health at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin & Jessica Rohmann comment on the peer review process in times of COVID-19 in an opinion piece in the BMJ: to the article

Prof. Ulrich Dirnagl, head of the Quest Center at BIH, explains the Peer Review process and points out the weak points in a guest article in the Tagesspiegel (17.06.2020): to the article (in German)

Team

Toivo Glatz, PhD
Hannah Grillmaier (student assistant)
Prof. Dr. Dr. Tobias Kurth
Jessica L. Rohmann, MScPH
Nadja Wülk (student assistant)

Contact us

If you have questions, please contact us using the contact form.