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Choose Development in 2024: serious science, community connections, progressive publishing

Posted by , on 30 January 2024

This is an excerpt of the Editorial written by James Briscoe and Katherine Brown, published in Volume 151, Issue 1 of Development.

The start of a new year is often a time to reflect and take stock. As researchers (and editors) we are usually so involved in the day-to-day challenges of our jobs that we lose sight of the bigger picture. But stepping back, it is extraordinary to see how much has changed over the last few years in scientific publishing and in the journals we are all familiar with. New business models, innovations in peer review and the rise of preprints are all having a huge impact, and the rise of Artificial Intelligence seems likely to revolutionise the research and publishing ecosystems (for good and bad) in ways we are only beginning to imagine. Of course, the primary role of journals continues to be to publish research findings and disseminate their conclusions, and broader developments in the field, to the wider scientific community. But the impact of journals like Development (and its sister journals at The Company of Biologists) extends further. By organising conferences and workshops, we help connect researchers and enable new collaborations. By awarding travelling fellowships and promoting the next generation of researchers, we support the next wave of innovation. By hosting and managing forums such as the Node, preLights and Focal Plane, we facilitate dialogue and the exchange of ideas and resources. These community-building efforts are possible only because we are a not-for-profit journal run by scientists for scientists. But, like all journals, we rely on our authors and the papers you send us. Without authors there would be no journal at all, and we couldn’t support the field in the ways that we do. Sometimes with all the demands and pressures on us, we lose sight of this broader perspective, and our choice of journal is driven by factors such as what we think would impress others, or where we think we might get an ‘easy ride’. However, where you choose to send your paper is not a neutral decision: publishing is political. By choosing to send your next paper to Development you are demonstrating your support for a not-for-profit scientist-led journal, and you are signifying your commitment to the field and to the next generation of researchers. It is only with your backing that we can continue supporting discovery in developmental and stem cell biology for years to come. So as you plan your 2024 submissions, we ask you to choose Development.

Last year saw the start of Development’s Pathway to Independence (PI) programme (Briscoe and Brown, 2022). We all recognise that finding a job in academia and setting up a lab are major challenges for which many postdocs feel underprepared. We established the PI programme with this in mind. It provides mentorship, training and networking opportunities to a group of postdocs about to apply for academic positions. It was a pleasure to meet the first cohort of fellows in October and hear their stories. You can read more about them on our website, and also find out more about the aims of the programme and the application and selection process. It was also satisfying to hear how the programme had helped them. One commented, ‘The programme has been a game changer for me as I search for an independent position, giving me unprecedented visibility in the community as well as amazing training that will help me in my transition to being a PI.’ We have now opened our second call for applications to this programme. We are keen to see applications from all corners of the world and from all areas of developmental and stem cell biology. If you know anyone that might benefit from the programme, please let them know about it. 

Read the rest of the Editorial here.

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