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eLife funding to spotlight diversity in science

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The non-profit organisation eLife is piloting a funding scheme to help authors from under-represented groups showcase their research.

The Ben Barres Spotlight Awards will support scientists in their efforts to strengthen their work with opportunities for exposure and collaboration. It is named in honour of transgender neurobiologist and former eLife reviewing editor Ben Barres, from Stanford University, US, who died in December 2017.

In line with Barres’ advocacy work for greater equality in the scientific workforce, and eLife’s own goals of encouraging and recognising responsible behaviours in science, the organisation has created the funding scheme to help promote greater diversity.

Awards are available to authors of research articles published in eLife, who identify with one or more of the underrepresented communities addressed by the programme. These include scientists who are based in resource-scarce countries and/or are disadvantaged due to their gender, career stage, ethnicity or disability. eLife welcomes applications from eligible authors across the globe.

Talking about the fund, Anna Akhmanova, eLife deputy editor, said: 'Increasing diversity in science is a major challenge for the whole community, and many steps are necessary to achieve this goal. We hope that the new fund can make a difference for researchers in minority communities.

'The funding comprises multiple awards of up to $4,500. Anyone can apply, providing details of what they need the funding for and how it will help make a major improvement to their work. The first application deadline in the pilot fund is 1 August. Additional deadlines will be advertised later, subject to the availability of funding.'

The grants of $4,500 will be available until the total budget of $22,000 has been distributed. eLife community manager Kora Korzec, who is running the scheme, added: 'We’re aware that this is a modest amount, far from the scale required to solve the challenge of inclusivity and intersectionality in science or scientific publishing. We hope the fund will be catalytic – both in helping to create a step change for the awardees we’re able to support directly, and in bringing attention to this complex issue and motivating other efforts to address it.'

Michael Eisen, eLife editor-in-chief, concluded: 'There are many scientists out there who are doing great work but encountering obstacles in communicating it, and we want to help them improve the process as much as possible. We hope our support will at least kick-start the necessary conversations about these barriers, so that researchers can start tackling them together.'

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