Program offers free workshops and webcasts for early-career researchers

Publishing Connect partnership to broaden content and training options in response to user feedback

Linda Willems

The Author

As Academic Content & Communications Manager for Elsevier, Linda Willems oversees the Editors’ Update website, a resource center designed to keep editors in touch with the latest developments in journal publishing, policies and initiatives. The site also hosts the quarterly Editors’ Update newsletter, for which she is Editor-in-Chief. Willems, who is based in Amsterdam, is also on the team behind the Elsevier Journal Editors’ Conferences program.

[divider] The moment an author receives that first manuscript rejection is a milestone that is unlikely to be forgotten.

As Dr. Guido Kroemer advises: “It’s important to feel instantly frustrated — at the edge of suicide — but only for 10 minutes.”

Dr. Kroemer, Professor of Medicine of the University of Paris Descartes and Editor of Elsevier’s Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications journal, offers his memorable advice in a training video on’s early career researcher pages.

Hannah Foreman, who heads up the Researcher Relations team at Elsevier, explained that this site is just one of the growing resources Elsevier has created to inform students and junior faculty as they embark on their careers.“One of the most interactive of these resources, Publishing Connect, has just celebrated its seventh birthday,” she said. “In its short lifespan, the global program has worked together with universities and educational institutions to help thousands of researchers understand the intricacies of the publishing process.”

Publisher Jaap van Harten speaks at a Publishing Connect workshop in Namur, Belgium.

Educating the next generation of authors and reviewers

Publishing Connect workshops are generally held at institutions by Elsevier’s journal publishers, usually in partnership with one of Elsevier’s journal editors.

The Publishing Connect program comprises two main elements:

  1. Author and reviewer workshops (held at universities and research or educational institutions)
  2. Online training webcasts

[note color="#ffffff" position="right" width=400 margin=10 align="alignright"] Publishing Connect Training Webcasts Channel

The workshops

A range of experienced staff at Elsevier have pooled their knowledge to create a series of live workshops offering advice on everything from how the publishing process works to writing and submitting a manuscript.
  • Introduction to Scholarly Publishing
  • How to Get Published in Research Journals
  • How to Review a Manuscript
  • Innovation in the Research and Publishing Landscape
  • The Impact Factor and Other Bibliometrics
  • Authors’ Rights and Responsibilities

The webcasts

Publishing Connect Training WebcastsPublishing Connect Training Webcasts

These bite-sized online training webcasts, each of which is up to 15 minutes long, are available to view via the Publishing Connect training webcasts library on Initially, only the How to Get Published workshop module was converted into three webcasts, however, it was clear from early viewing data that this free resource was valued by the global community. Webcasts based on other modules such as How to Review a Manuscript, Introduction to Scholarly Publishing and The Impact Factor and Other Bibliometric Indicators quickly followed. The series has collectively garnered more than 250,000 views to date, and more webcasts are in the pipeline for this year.[/note]

Since 2006, when the Publishing Connect program started, the number of PhD students, postdoctoral students and junior faculty participating has risen year on year; in 2012, our publishers and editors reached a record of more than 24,000 researchers through more than 350 workshops.

The workshops are often hosted by institutions in countries where research is growing rapidly and knowledge of the publishing process is still relatively basic. In these locations, the modules on how to write a paper and authors’ rights and responsibilities have been particularly popular.

Dr. Jacques Piette, Groupe Interdisciplinaire Génoprotéomique Appliquée Research Director at the Université de Liège, Belgium, and Editor of Elsevier’s Biochemical Pharmacology, has hosted a number of these workshops in his native land, with the support of his publisher at Elsevier, Jaap van Harten. The latest, in Namur on January 23, attracted more than 240 students. In fact, it was so popular that the day before the event, he had to turn away would-be registrants because the lecture theater was simply not big enough.

“I think there is a real need for PhD students to learn the basics, such as how to write a paper correctly in English,”

Jacques Piette, PhD

Dr. Piette said. “I see these workshops as forming part of their education; after all, most of them have to write and publish scientific articles for their thesis.” Dr. Piette said it was the positive feedback from the first event he held in Liège that led him to hold two more workshops. “They are really popular,” he said. “In fact, following the first two workshops, I received phone calls from PhD students asking when we were going to organize the next one. The value is that the modules contain practical information. Students leave with new knowledge ranging from how their paper will be handled by editors and reviewers to how to avoid rapid rejection of their paper.” For institutions considering a workshop, he has a few suggestions: “Presenters need to be aware that their audience may contain a number of different disciplines with different needs. For example, at our event in Liège, we had engineers as well as philosophy and pharmacology students. The content needs to be broad enough to cater to all of them.”

Responding to feedback

During or after each Publishing Connect workshop, participants are asked to complete a short survey. The results for 2012 show that the workshops are delivering a much needed service, with 94 percent of participants agreeing that they found them helpful.

The results also reveal the main factors that motivate early career researchers to attend workshops: they are keen to learn how to write successful papers and discover more about the publishing process. In surveys, 92% agreed that attending a seminar increased their understanding of the complexities of the publishing process. Others mentioned that because the topics covered are not included in most PhD curricula, they would recommend the workshops to colleagues. Hannah Foreman

Foreman and her team plan to respond to participants’ feedback and expand the program to include a broader range of topics and training options.

“Participants gave us some great suggestions in their feedback,” she said. “We listened and are exploring a number of different ideas for adding new content to the program — for example, ‘How to write successful conference papers’ and ‘How to get your paper noticed.’ We know that one of the biggest pain points for early career researchers is submitting a successful grant proposal so we are also working on addressing this gap.

“We are particularly keen to offer more tailor-made approaches to institutions and support them as much as possible in nurturing the authors and reviewers of the future.

"Despite the global reach of Publishing Connect, however, there are still a large number of early-career researchers who are unable to attend a workshop at an institution. Feedback in 2011 revealed that many attendees wanted to see more workshops like those being offered. That led to one of our most important developments: the Publishing Connect Training Webcasts. With more than 250,000 views so far, it’s clear these webcasts fill a core need. Their success means that another priority for us this year will be to broaden the topics available and ensure they are accessible to as wide an audience as possible.” [note position="align" width=800]

What participants are saying

  • “Attending a Publishing Connect seminar really improves a person's understanding on the procedures followed to publish a paper.”
  • Deborah Logan “I was happy because I am about to publish my paper - the enlightenment came at the right time, thank you.”
  • “As stated in the seminar, publishing is our passport to our colleagues. For those of us with little support this type of seminar is excellent.”
  • “These aspects are not included in the PhD curriculum. Hence I would recommend attending this Publishing Connect workshop to a colleague.”

'Meeting your future authors'

“There is no substitute for meeting your future authors face to face. The people who have turned up to workshops have shown real enthusiasm in learning more about the mechanics of getting published. It really has felt like coaching some of the authors of the future, and - as with all of these things - you end up learning a lot yourself.” — Deborah Logan, Publishing Director, Materials Science Journals, Elsevier [/note]
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