What is Instill again?
Instill strives to improve research output and connectivity in the phage community by providing an open platform for peer-based reviews, recruitment of potential collaborators, and requests for expertise. The Phage Directory initiative is still in its infancy and will be subject to further development, particularly as its reach increases. An important objective for the Instill service is to provide an easy, useful and time-reasonable experience for researchers, as let’s face it, time is often not our friend! Thanks to the initial users of Instill, improvements to the platform are already underway.
Current developments to Instill
User feedback from the peer review and collaborator search channels has brought to light the value of online meetings for communication between peers in the Instill space. PhD student, Carmen, was able to receive advice on a concept via a zoom meeting after reaching out through an Instill request, and we are excited by her success!
We reached out to Carmen and her responder, Michael, about their Instill experience and here is what they had to say:
Carmen: “I love the experience. Michael is awesome and I enjoyed the fact that we can chat over Zoom and actually be able to go into the details.”
Michael: “It was a great experience overall! Carmen and I discussed her question, which then led into some other questions I had that related to the work she does, and vice-versa. Overall, I liked how the discussion evolved from a single question to forming a new connection with a fellow phage phan!”
We think the use of Instill to facilitate virtual meetings between peers far and wide will not only allow for discussion of researcher queries but could have other beneficial follow-on effects, such as the inspiration of new ideas or future networking opportunities.
The success of Carmen and Michael’s experience has inspired us to explore the option of using a zoom call to provide feedback for peer reviews as an alternative to the current online form. The peer review system has already been up and running on Instill and encouragers reviewers to devote no more than 30 minutes of their time to providing feedback.
As an Instill contributor myself, I also wanted to talk about my own reviewing experience.
My experience as a peer reviewer
Hearing about the Instill initiative and its aims to bring researchers together was both exciting and refreshing for me, knowing that the academic world can often be quite competitive. Providing a contribution was a fulfilling experience and a good opportunity to improve my own reviewing skills.
The Instill review process was straightforward, with a simple form to complete. The sections to rate on different aspects (e.g. Significance, Clarity, Originality) of the manuscript were a good summary of how the manuscript was coming across. Additionally, the form also allowed for specific feedback details to be provided.
Being a person that tends to get carried away with spending more time on others than I have to give, I appreciated having a time limit, which was not overly demanding to ask of a volunteer reviewer but also decent enough to provide a reasonable amount of feedback for the requester. I also appreciated the strict warnings that were made to reviewers to maintain confidentiality with respect to submitted manuscripts, as is the case with usual journal peer review processes.
Big thanks to the below members for their responses to Instill requests so far!
Atif Khan (x2)
Katharine Muscat (x2)
Want to get involved?
Submit a request for help on Instill
Browse the Instill homepage to see if you can help with any collaborator or peer review requests
Thanks so much to Atif Khan for digging up links for this week’s issue!