MBoC seeks early-career editors to focus on curating preprints

career editor

Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBoC) is seeking volunteers for a new editorial board of early-career researchers dedicated to curating and classifying the significance of new preprints posted on bioRxiv and articles published in MBoC. Playing a vital role in a project supported by a Learned Society Curation Award from the Wellcome Trust and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to MBoC’s publisher, the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), this new board of diverse, young editors will contribute to improving the recognition of research works across the subjects covered by MBoC.

The recent growth of preprint servers and rapid pace of research dissemination can pose a challenge for researchers and evaluators—in discovering the most interesting articles to read, and in assessing the significance and potential impact of new research. This new board of early-career editors will be a valuable addition to MBoC and ASCB’s community.

We are now accepting applications for early-career editors (instructions to apply here). Applicants should be pre-tenure assistant professors or advanced postdocs or research fellows engaged in research in any topics covered by MBoC. Researchers interested in open science, preprints, and improving scientific publishing and research assessment are especially encouraged to apply.

The goal of these early-career editors will be identifying preprints of interest to the molecular and cell biology research community. They will write brief Significance Statements and select digital Badges to apply to these selected preprints. ASCB is developing these curation tools as a way to help readers quickly recognize the significance of the research and to highlight valuable aspects of the work such as advancing a new concept or methodology, or having especially broad relevance or translational applications.

Early-career editors will have a variety of opportunities for further involvement with MBoC and ASCB, and to engage with authors, editors, and readers. Through this position they will gain recognition as emerging leaders in their field and will also gain insight and involvement in the editorial process through mentorship by MBoC editors.

Interested candidates should submit an application by Monday January 18, 2021, which includes 1) a CV, 2) a brief description of their research topic, interest in the position, and future career plans (1 page total), and 3) a letter of recommendation. We are especially interested in recruiting a diverse group of candidates, including those from underrepresented backgrounds, across international regions, and from a broad range of research topics.

For more details and application instructions, visit https://www.ascb.org/publications/volunteer-early-career-editor-mboc/ or contact Michael Lacy (mlacy@ascb.org).


Frequently Asked Questions

(updated January 7, 2021)

– What will Early-Career editors do and what is the time commitment?

The main responsibility for our Early-Career Editors will be highlighting interesting preprints related to their research topic and writing Significance Statements (these will be brief, just a few sentences or bullet points to summarize the key contributions of the work for a broad audience, not so extensive as a full peer review report) and selecting Badges from a standardized list. We expect Early-Career Editors will highlight about 10 preprints per year, or once a month at the most.

We do also plan to provide some training opportunities for the early-career editors to gain relevant skills and network with the other members. Opportunities for further mentorship and involvement with senior MBoC editors will be flexible. This might include occasionally having a brief discussion about manuscripts submitted to MBoC or acting as a peer reviewer.

We hope this would be a nice complement to your regular reading and research activities. Depending on how often you are already reading and discussing preprints on a regular basis, this will probably amount to a few hours per month.

– Is this a paid position?

No, it is volunteer-based.

– Do I have to be an ASCB member? Do I have to be based in the United States?


– Who should write my recommendation letter?

As a post-doc applicant, your PI is ideal. As an early faculty applicant, it might be your post-doc advisor, or perhaps a colleague in your department. You could also consider a colleague or mentor who has specific insight in your activities beyond research. To submit, the letter writer should provide you a PDF copy of the letter and you will include it when you submit your application files.

– What qualities should I highlight in my application and recommendation letter?

The application letters should include some comment on your scientific work, interest and potential fit for this editorial position, and alignment with ASCB’s mission. Keep in mind some of your activities may be especially valuable qualifications for this position, beyond simply listing your publications. For example, have you taken a leading authorship role on recent publications or formed collaborations, been active in journal clubs, conferences or symposia, or are you very good at communicating to a broad audience or teaching students? Perhaps you have other activities beyond lab research that indicate a good eye for scientific quality, interest across multiple disciplines, or reading and contributing to broader discussions in the field.

– What if I’ve never been a reviewer before; will I get some training in this role?

Yes! The curation manager and senior MBoC editors will work with the new Early-Career Editors to provide guidance and incorporate feedback to make sure the whole curation program has consistent standards and style. Early-Career Editors will also learn from senior MBoC editors about how to review a paper, how they make editorial decisions, and more.

– What if I’m not ready to apply right now? (e.g. I only recently started as a post-doc; I’m too busy with other commitments this year)

We anticipate this will be a recurring program, with a yearly application cycle. Keep an eye on MBoC and ASCB for more information on this and other activities in the year ahead!

– When is the application deadline again?

January 18, 2021.

About the Author:

Michael Lacy is ASCB's Curation Manager.