Reviewer of the Month (2022)

Posted On 2022-07-13 16:12:40

In 2022, TCR reviewers continue to make outstanding contributions to the peer review process. They demonstrated professional effort and enthusiasm in their reviews and provided comments that genuinely help the authors to enhance their work.

Hereby, we would like to highlight some of our outstanding reviewers, with a brief interview of their thoughts and insights as a reviewer. Allow us to express our heartfelt gratitude for their tremendous effort and valuable contributions to the scientific process.

January, 2022
Saygo Tomo, A.C. Camargo Cancer Center, Brazil
Leonardo A. Bustamante-Lopez, AdventHealth, USA

February, 2022
Masatsugu Hamaji, Kyoto University Hospital, Japan
Damian Kołat, Medical University of Lodz, Poland

March, 2022
Guodong Fu, Sinai Health, Canada
Akikazu Kawase, Hamamatsu University, Japan
Emmanuel Dias‐Neto, A.C. Camargo Cancer Center, Brazil

April, 2022
Santiago Cabezas-Camarero, Hospital Clínico Universitario San Carlos, Spain

May, 2022
Maarten Bijlsma, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

June, 2022
Yuki Tenjin, Kumamoto University, Japan  

July, 2022
Manabu Natsumeda, Niigata University, Japan

August, 2022
Yun-Han Lee, Keimyung University, South Korea

September, 2022
Yosuke Matsuura, Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, Japan  

October, 2022
Georgios Antonios Margonis, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, USA  

November, 2022
Brandon Lucke-Wold, University of Florida, USA

December, 2022
Evert van Velsen, Erasmus Medical Center, The Netherlands  

January, 2022

Saygo Tomo

Dr. Saygo Tomo, DDS, MSc, PhD, is currently a resident in Stomatology at the A.C. Camargo Cancer Center, São Paulo, Brazil. After dental school, he obtained a MSc and PhD in the field of Stomatology at the Oral Oncology Center of the Araçatuba Dental School, São Paulo State University (UNESP). His research interests are related to head and neck cancer and oral complications of cancer treatment, and diagnosis and treatment of oral diseases. You may learn more about Dr. Tomo here.

Dr. Tomo considers peer review as a quality control step in science in order to avoid the publication and misinterpretation of data based in flawed methodologies. To him, reviewing papers goes beyond checking the scientific writing, references, ethical approval methods description, results, and its interpretations in the discussion. While reviewing papers, reviewers must remember that each paper published may impact on further research and practice of several health professionals.

From a reviewer’s perspective, Dr. Tomo believes that reporting guidelines, such as STROBE and TREND, are important to structure papers in a form to guarantee the best organization of the most essential information for each type of paper. These guidelines not only facilitate the reviewing process but makes it more methodic. Furthermore, it standardizes the reviewing when a manuscript is being reviewed by more than one reviewer.

As an early career researcher, reviewing manuscripts gives me the opportunity to improve my critical sense and, consequently, enrich my own scientific work. Furthermore, it is a pleasure to contribute to the candor of scientific publications,” says Dr. Tomo.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

Leonardo Alfonso Bustamante-Lopez

Dr. Leonardo A. Bustamante-Lopez is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Surgical Health Outcomes Consortium (SHOC), Digestive Health and Surgery Institute, AdventHealth, Orlando, Fl, USA. He is from Venezuela where he became a general surgeon. Later on, he went to the Sao Paulo University in Brazil for his Colorectal Surgery Fellow and Ph.D. His research area is Colorectal Surgery, and the most recent project was on Lateral Lymph nodes in Rectal Cancer. You may connect with Dr. Bustamante-Lopez on Twitter @leo708 or @diverticulardis.

Peer review, in Dr. Bustamante-Lopez’s opinion, is so far the only way that the journal had to safeguard the quality and integrity of scientific and scholarly research. Even though biases are often present in peer review, identifying the most important specialists in the topic would be the best way to minimize any biases.

Despite a busy schedule as a researcher and doctor, I try to review papers between my cases or in my office hours, not in my free time,” says Dr. Bustamante-Lopez.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

February, 2022

Masatsugu Hamaji

Dr. Masatsugu Hamaji is a board-certified general thoracic surgeon and lecturer at Kyoto University Hospital, Japan. He obtained his MD degree in Kyoto University Hospital in 2001 and PhD in Bioartificial Organ in Graduate Medical School of Kyoto University in 2016. Dr.  Hamaji joined the faculty of General Thoracic Surgery at Kyoto University after he finished a two-year clinical fellowship at the Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN and one-year clinical fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA. His clinical and research interest includes thymic epithelial tumors and extended resection for locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Dr. Hamaji plays a humble but steady role in numerous organizations, including member of American Association of Thoracic Surgery, the Japanese Association for Thoracic Surgeons (JATS), and the Japanese Association of Chest Surgeons (JACS), etc. He also authored a number of articles in the general thoracic surgical field, in collaboration with national and international institutions. You may connect with Dr. Hamaji on LinkedIn.

The current peer review system is healthy but not without shortcomings, according to Dr. Hamaji. There seems to be more submitted papers than the reviewers and editors can handle. He believes that authors should limit their manuscripts to ones that were clinically relevant.

Speaking of the significance of conflicts of interest (COI) disclosure, Dr. Hamaji thinks that it is very important and mandatory for authors to disclose any potential COI because one can never predict the extent of influence of a COI.

Reviewing a submitted manuscript would improve the reviewer’s knowledge, which would also accelerate their research activities,” says Dr. Hamaji.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

Damian Kołat

Dr. Damian Kołat is a senior laboratory research specialist at the Medical University of Lodz, Poland. He has a particular research interest in carcinogenesis and bioinformatics. His major research interests concern the role of AP-2 transcription factors in tumors, the role of a global transcription modulator WWOX, as well as aspects related to non-coding RNAs or biomarkers identification. His recent interest in COVID-19 resulted in co-authorship of works related to STOP-COVID Registry of the Polish PoLoCoV-Study. Currently, he is an academic editor in Baishideng Publishing Group, guest editor in MDPI Cells, a member of the scientific council of the ELIXIR journal, and an ambassador of The European Association for Cancer Research. Here are a few platforms where you can find out more about Dr. Kołat: LinkedIn, ResearchGate and Publons.

Peer review, in Dr. Kołat’s opinion, is to communicate authors with experts from specific field. Both sides are able to provide their point-of-view and in the case of incomprehension, there is always a possibility to elucidate the issue. Eventually, this improves research clarity, prior to final decision. It also helps editors to decide on papers objectively – if the study has some flaws, this is the stage where we can together eliminate them, increasing the study value.

Maintaining an objective angle is of paramount importance in peer review. To Dr. Kołat, the crucial aspect is anonymity which ensures the procedure will be ethical. Referees should be impartial when it comes to information about authors and their affiliation, soliciting or non-commissioning the manuscript, or the chosen publication access (e.g. open access or subscription-based). He adds, “When I agree to review the work, it is also important for me to be familiarized with the specific field, so I can provide constructive feedback for authors.”

As a reviewer, Dr. Kołat stresses the importance for original research to apply for institutional review board (IRB) approval, which is an essential step to provide the relevant protection for human participants and animal subjects. Improving confidence via inclusion of ethical statements in manuscript is highly welcomed. If this is omitted, the potential intellectual property infringement or unethical materials’ usage could not be excluded.

I see peer reviewing not only as a requirement to improve scientific manuscripts, but also as a chance to improve myself. It ensures that in the future I will be able to provide better opinions in the specific field, helping not only other researchers, but also the overall standard of science. In addition, there is always a possibility to conceptualize a new own research project based on novel findings,” says Dr. Kołat.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

March, 2022

Guodong Fu

Dr. Guodong Fu is a group leader of Medical Genomics and Molecular Diagnosis at the Molecular Oncology Laboratory in Mount Sinai Hospital, Sinai Health, Toronto, Canada. He obtained his Ph.D. in comparative molecular endocrinology, biological science from The University of Hong Kong and completed postdoctoral work at York University. His research focuses on identifying key molecular targets at mRNA, microRNA, and protein levels associated with thyroid and oral cancers. He develops innovative affordable cancer molecular diagnostic techniques for patients with thyroid and oral diseases. He has also been studying the abnormal cellular expression of RNA and microRNAs, elucidating their functionality, and establishing underlying mechanisms of microRNAs in human ovarian cancer disease and human placental disorders.

Peer review plays an important role for editors of most journals to make appropriate decisions whether to accept or reject a manuscript for publication. In Dr. Fu’s opinion, peer review allows reviewers to acknowledge the strengths and criticize the weakness of a manuscript, from which authors may benefit to further improve their work. To do so, reviewers must first try to understand the work through the paper and then find its novelty, significance, scientific soundness and quality of presentation, et al.

Speaking of the use of reporting guidelines such as STROBE and PRISMA, Dr. Fu believes it is a smart choice for authors to follow relevant guidelines during preparation of their manuscripts. These guidelines are carefully designed and proven procedures that help prepare quality manuscripts and deliver findings clearly and logically.

I am motivated to review due to the interest of learning a potential progress of the field and the responsibility of providing constructive comments to enhance the manuscript with a servant heart,” says Dr. Fu.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

Akikazu Kawase

Dr. Akikazu Kawase, MD, PhD, currently serves at the First Department of Surgery, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Shizuoka, Japan. He obtained his PhD in medicine at Hamamatsu University School of Medicine in 2016, and obtained his Bachelor of Medicine at Hamamatsu University School of Medicine and his medical license in 2003. His areas of research include thoracic surgery, and oncology of lung cancer.

Dr. Kawase believes that when scientists audit each other’s research, it ensures the quality of peer-reviewed papers and works to improve the quality of all scientific research.

In Dr. Kawase’s own practice, he always peer-reviews with the following questions in mind: “What were the research hypotheses? What were the answers to them?”. Reviewing the research hypothesis shows how innovative the research is and how much society needs it. In Methods, he reviews whether research instruments are taken to prove the research hypothesis. In Results, he reviews whether the answers to the research hypotheses are adequately described. In Discussion, he reviews whether the above is theoretically written in terms of what conclusions were drawn from the results obtained to the research hypotheses, how they compare with past studies, and directions for future research. He believes that peer review with the above considerations will ensure the objectivity of the peer-review process.

Data sharing, in Dr. Kawase’s opinion, is necessary for future scientific research. By collecting a lot of data in the same area from various facilities, more institutional and reliable results may be obtained. In data on rare diseases, its contribution to science will be more significant. Disclosure of raw data may have the secondary benefit of preventing research fraud.

Peer review is indeed non-profitable. However, it benefits me in the following ways. First, I can encounter areas of science that I don’t normally observe. Second, it is a training for reading research papers. Third, by experiencing a variety of research, I will be able to apply it to my own research in the future. Forth, to do peer review, it is necessary to learn the missing knowledge. Therefore, I can gain new knowledge. Lastly, peer review requires me to communicate with many people, so my communication skills will be developed,” says Dr. Kawase.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

Emmanuel Dias‐Neto

Dr. Emmanuel Dias‐Neto is a biologist currently serving as the coordinator of the Medical Genomics Group at the A.C. Camargo Cancer Center in São Paulo, Brazil. He graduated at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in Brazil, and later obtained an MSc from FIOCRUZ and a PhD in Biochemistry from UFMG, followed by a post-doctorate at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and four years as a visiting professor at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, USA. Since the early days of his career, Dr. Dias‐Neto started working with genomics, first in the analysis of parasites (Schistosoma mansoni, Trypanosoma cruzi and their vectors), and later in the field of human pathologies, especially cancer and neuropsychiatric diseases.

A healthy review, according to Dr. Dias‐Neto, needs to be performed in a professional way, with a major focus in the ethical and scientific aspects of the research and covered by the manuscript under evaluation, in the context of the current status of that field. Other elements such as the geographical origin of the authors and the prestige of the group should not affect the final decision of the editors and the referees.

Nevertheless, the current review system is not without shortcomings. Dr. Dias‐Neto says, “As a scientist, I feel frustrated when a review process takes months to reach a final decision. This is bad for the reputation of the journal and has a negative impact over the scientific advances in all fields.” He further points out that it is getting harder and harder to identify qualified individuals willing to spend time reviewing manuscripts for free, in a system that involves many financial gains to large publishing groups and requires the payment of expensive publication fees by the authors. This needs to be revisited and discussed more and more in order to have a sustainable and fair system.

Speaking as a reviewer, Dr. Dias‐Neto stresses that there is an urgent need for reporting guidelines (e.g. CONSORT and CARE) in order to provide standardized information, covering the basic information that should be contained in all articles. This will make science even more useful and accessible. Most importantly, fair principles should be implemented by all groups in all areas.

The main motivations to do peer review are to be aware of new findings in my area of interest and the understanding that I am contributing by providing a review that aims to be fair in balancing novelty, impact, scientific rigor and ethics,” says Dr. Dias‐Neto.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

April, 2022

Santiago Cabezas-Camarero

Dr. Santiago Cabezas-Camarero currently serves at the Department of Medical Oncology at Hospital Clínico Universitario San Carlos in Madrid, Spain, with special dedication to the treatment of Head and Neck Cancer, Brain Tumors and Familial Cancer. He is a specialist in Medical Oncology since 2015. In 2021, he gained his PhD in Medicine from Universidad Complutense de Madrid, with a project on Circulating Tumor Cells in patients with Colorectal Cancer and Head and Neck Cancer. In the same year, he graduated with the "Expert Title in Immune-Oncology" from Universidad de Navarra in Madrid. Also in 2021, he obtained his master’s degree in Neuro-Oncology from Universidad San Pablo CEU in Madrid. He is currently participating as principal investigator and sub-investigator in several clinical trials with different anti-tumor therapies, particularly with immune checkpoint inhibitors. He is the principal investigator of several translational research projects of biomarkers and liquid biopsy in CNS tumors, head and neck cancer, and colorectal cancer. You may get in touch with Dr. Cabezas-Camarero through Twitter @SantiCabezas1 and LinkedIn.

Peer review is fundamental to guarantee trustworthy, rigorous, and high-quality science. It prevents from scientific fraud and may allow to enrich scientific contributions. In Dr. Cabezas-Camarero’s opinion, a healthy peer-review system must be very vigilant to avoid potential conflicts of interest among the authors and reviewers. Reviewers should be asked to conduct methodic, rigorous but concept-clear reviews to aid all the parts involved in the consideration process. Modern and updated electronic editorial manager systems that make the review process easier for all parts involved are also important to allow reviewers and authors to focus solely on the review process.

Science has become more complex than ever. Dr. Cabezas-Camarero supports the idea of research data sharing. To him, sharing data from different authors/hospitals/research centers allows for higher-quality science and prevents from scientific misconduct.

Reviewers are important in science and in medicine. Doctors and other medical-sciences professionals should be open to peer review to guarantee continuous advances in high-quality science,” says Dr. Cabezas-Camarero.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

May, 2022

Maarten F. Bijlsma

Dr. Maarten Bijlsma is a group leader at the Amsterdam University Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. His group works on cancers of the esophagus and pancreas, and addresses topics ranging from mechanistic studies and target discovery to translational work on biomarkers and early phase clinical studies. You may follow Dr. Bijlsma on LinkedIn to learn more about him.

Peer review has long been essential to the quality of what is published in scientific journals. However, as we seem to move into an age of fact-free reasoning, Dr. Bijlsma believes that it is increasingly important for readers to be able to tell what is real science, and what is stuff that someone drafted after “doing their research”. Having gone through the editorial process and peer review, a scientific paper will fall in the former category and should be clearly recognizable as such.

In Dr. Bijlsma’s opinion, during review, reviewers should be respectful when assessing someone’s work, and to provide input with which the authors can improve it. However, what is considered destructive may differ per author and some papers just have a lot to improve.

Seeing the trend of research data sharing in recent years, Dr. Bijlsma highlights that we need to consider different categories of data types: One is the relatively “small data” from, for instance, routine laboratory experiments. These data could be shared for the sake of reproducibility, but otherwise does not benefit other scientists so much. The other data type that has long been mandatory to share are expensive “omics” type data that are of tremendous use to other researchers and should be put in public repositories after publishing. To ensure that people that generate these data will remain enthusiastic about sharing, we should discourage others from building papers that only rely on other scientists’ data without generating any of their own.

We all like to get our papers published, but for that to happen, we need them reviewed and this is our shared responsibility as scientists. Also, one can learn a lot from reviewing other scientists’ papers. This can be about the science, but also how to most effectively present your work,” says Dr. Bijlsma.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

June, 2022

Yuki Tenjin

Dr. Yuki Tenjin, MD, PhD, is a respiratory physician serving at the Department of Respiratory Medicine, Faculty of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University, Japan. He obtained his MD degree in Kumamoto University Hospital in 2009 and PhD in Respiratory Medicine in Graduate School of Medical Science Kumamoto University in 2020. His major area of research is lung cancer biology. Dr. Tenjin’s research has been mainly focused on the molecular biology of small cell lung cancer. He is now interested in the analysis of immune checkpoint blockade therapies for lung cancer in the point of view of tumoral heterogeneity, such as histopathology, patient’s characteristics, or molecular expression profiles of cancer cells, and so on.

To Dr. Tenjin, the current peer review system is healthy. It is an effectual method to guarantee the quality and integrity of scientific research. Even though biases are often present in peer review, it gives researchers many chances to improve their works and strength their conclusions. Expert’s opinion plays an important role for the progression of sciences and it should be respected as possible as we can.

Despite being healthy, the current peer review system is not always fair. Dr. Tenjin sometimes feels that the reviewer’s comments tend to attach weight to their special interests. To improve that, it might be a good idea for editors to check more strictly the repeated questions by multiple reviewers. Furthermore, researchers always need to consider their work’s scientific significance and reviewers judge the conclusions more objectively, as possible as they can.

Speaking of the need for authors to disclose Conflict of Interest (COI), Dr. Tenjin reckons that it is important to do so as it could influence the content of thesis. However, in the end, he believes the scientific logic to prove the author’s hypothesis is most important.

I choose to review for TCR as I often read its published articles. They are interesting,” says Dr. Tenjin.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

July, 2022

Manabu Natsumeda

Dr. Manabu Natsumeda is an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Brain Research Institute, Niigata University in northwest Japan. He specializes in malignant brain tumors, and runs a small lab focusing on translation research for brain tumors. His team has established many brain tumor cell lines and used them to come up with new treatment strategies. Some of his recent projects include the establishment and treatment of a BRAF V600E-mutant epithelioid glioblastoma cell line NGT-41 (Acta Neuropathol Commun, 2019; Clin Cancer Res, 2022) and research focusing on chemosensitivity in medulloblastomas (Neuro-Oncol, 2022).

Peer review is crucial, in the eye of Dr. Natsumeda, in establishing the integrity of the published papers as well as of the journal. The review should aim at making the papers more well-rounded, and thus constructive comments, rather than harsh comments, should be given by reviewers.

As a reviewer, Dr. Natsumeda supports the idea that authors follow certain reporting guidelines according to its article type, such as PRISMA for meta-analyses and CARE for case reports. He believes it would be much easier for the reviewer to review a paper if all required contents are mentioned and in order. Therefore, it is important for authors to follow these guidelines to facilitate the review process.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

August, 2022

Yun-Han Lee

Dr. Yun-Han Lee works as a professor at the Department of Molecular Medicine, Keimyung University School of Medicine, South Korea. He received his B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. degree in the Department of Microbiology, College of Natural Science, Kyungpook National University (South Korea). During PhD course, he developed a large-circular antisense library system for high-throughput functional genomics. He then pursued postdoctoral fellowship training at the Laboratory of Experimental Carcinogenesis (Lab. Chief Snorri S. Thorgeirsson), National Cancer Insititute, NIH, where he identified therapeutic target genes in hepatocellular carcinoma. The objectives of his current research programs are for definition of novel therapeutic target genes functionally involved in cancer metabolism or stemness in tumor microenvironment, and ultimately for the development of molecular cancer therapeutics.

Peer review contributes to neutral and objective assessment for a newly submitted scientific finding. Reviewers are judging in advance if a manuscript is qualified to be published on a specific journal in terms of novelty, rational design of experimental approach, data quality and so on, and giving constructive and helpful comments or questions to authors. By doing so, Dr. Lee believes peer review can improve the quality of a paper and provide a higher profile of scientific report to readers.

To minimize any potential biases during review, Dr. Lee’s initial step to review a paper is to check if their finding was substantially novel one by inputting some keywords on PubMed. If it was novel, he would focus on evaluating if the data quality and quantity were sufficient to support their conclusion. If those conditions were well-established, he would give a positive decision to the Editor. On the contrary, if he found similar evidences from previous publications, he would inevitably give a negative opinion.

From a reviewer’s perspective, Dr. Lee stresses that it is important for authors to follow reporting guidelines (e.g. STROBE and PRISMA). Generating a dataset according to the guidelines ensures logical and clear findings and contributes to international data standardization.

“Reading a new manuscript as a reviewer itself takes a long time and giving appropriate and critical comments or questions to author is not an easy work to do. However, I think this process could be beneficial to me as I’m able to catch up with recent trends in my research area and extend the scope of knowledge for myself. Therefore, successive works to review diverse papers can level up my research contents and data quality as well,” says Dr. Lee.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

September, 2022

Yosuke Matsuura

Dr. Yosuke Matsuura is currently an Associate Professor at Department of Thoracic Surgical Oncology, Cancer Institute Hospital, Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, Tokyo, Japan. His areas of expertise are minimally invasive thoracic surgery and precision medicine for lung cancer. His research theme is “realization of precision surgery”. His clinical and research interests include perioperative management (ex. preoperative genomic companion diagnoses, induction therapies, and adjuvant therapies) and salvage surgery via minimally invasive approach.

Dr. Matsuura considers the role of peer review to be the following two things. (1) To evaluate the novelty of papers from an objective perspective. In doing so, it is necessary to be mindful of eliminating obvious biases. (2) From a bird's-eye viewpoint, to advise what can be added to the authors' study to make it a better one. In doing so, it is necessary to offer constructive opinions that will help the study make positive progress. As a result, he believes that the most important role is to contribute to the sound progress of science.

Dr. Matsuura goes on to share some qualities a reviewer should possess: To be able to evaluate the authors' research objectively and from a bird's-eye viewpoint, to stand in the authors' shoes and empathize with the difficulties of constructing the research, to be familiar with various research methods, and to be able to recognize arbitrary logical developments.

From a reviewer’s perspective, Dr. Matsuura stresses that it is important for authors to follow reporting guidelines (e.g. STROBE, PRISMA and CARE). He indicates that generating a dataset according to the guidelines ensures logical and clear findings and contributes to international data standardization.

Through peer review, I can catch up with recent developments in my research field, broaden my knowledge, and sometimes learn about research methods that I was previously unaware of. Therefore, peer reviewing a variety of articles can provide me with hints for my own research and help me brush up my research itself,” says Dr. Matsuura.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

October, 2022

Georgios Antonios Margonis

Dr. Georgios Antonios Margonis is a senior scientist affiliated with the Department of Surgery at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), USA. He obtained his MD and PhD degrees from the University of Athens and moved to the United States in 2014. Since then, he has worked at Harvard University and the Johns Hopkins University prior to working at MSKCC. His clinical and research interests include hepato-pancreato-biliary diseases and soft tissue sarcomas. In particular, his work focuses on the use of biomarkers to guide surgical or medical treatment. More recently, he has collaborated with a group from MIT to conduct research at the crossroads of artificial intelligence and oncology. Dr. Margonis has authored or co-authored more than 160 papers, and has received several national and international awards. Notable awards include the IHPBA Kenneth Warren award and the Johns Hopkins University Paul Ehrlich award for outstanding research achievements.

Due to the abundance of journals, almost every study can be published regardless of quality. However, there are a few journals in every field with the strongest reputations and highest impact factors that inform practice in their respective fields. Thus, Dr. Margonis believes peer reviewers and editors for these high impact journals play a role in determining which studies will influence the clinicians and researchers of a given field. In other words, peer reviewers have both the privilege and great responsibility of informing the scientific community.

In Dr. Margonis’ opinion, an objective review has many layers. First, reviewers must have the necessary knowledge and expertise to understand whether a given study question is worth investigating. For example, some topics may have already been sufficiently covered, while other topics may be novel but do not address any clinical or scientific need. Second, reviewers have to evaluate the methodology and statistical analysis to see if they adequately support the study conclusion. Third, reviewers should only judge studies by their scientific merit and not be influenced by other factors, such as the authors. Lastly, to safeguard the objectivity of the review process, he proposes that reviews be evaluated by other reviewers for their quality and objectivity. The editor should use these second reviews to inform his/her final decision. Moreover, journals can also use this information to extend invitations to peer reviewers who have demonstrated the ability to provide objective, quality reviews.

From a reviewer’s perspective, Dr. Margonis considers institutional review board (IRB) approvals for an original research essential as it ensures that patient data are properly used in a way that does not violate the patients’ privacy and complies with the highest ethical standards. Nonetheless, the process of IRB submission and approval should be expedited to avoid unnecessary delays, and their structure should be simplified to avoid unnecessary barriers for researchers.

Peer reviewing may be anonymous and non-profitable, but it is often included in academic metrics. In fact, there are several online tools such as Publons and Web of Science that not only count the number of reviews for a given researcher, but also evaluate the number of words per review as a proxy for quality. Aside from these practical reasons, I am also motivated to peer review in good faith and in a timely manner because this is what I would like other reviewers to do when they evaluate my papers,” says Dr. Dr. Margonis.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

November, 2022

Brandon Lucke-Wold

Dr. Brandon Lucke-Wold is currently a Pgy5 neurosurgery resident at University of Florida, USA with pursuing endovascular enfolded training and was awarded the Dempsey Cerebrovascular Research Fellowship. He graduated magna cum laude with a BS in Neuroscience and distinction in honors from Baylor University. He completed his MD/PhD, Master’s in Clinical and Translational Research, and the Global Health Track at West Virginia University School of Medicine. His research focuses on traumatic brain injury, neurosurgical simulation, and stroke. At West Virginia University, he also served as a health coach for the Diabetes Prevention and Management program in Morgantown and Charleston, WV, which significantly improved health outcomes for participants. In addition to his research and public health projects, he is a co-founder of the biotechnology company Wright-Wold Scientific, the pharmaceutical company CTE cure, and was a science advocate on Capitol Hill through the Washington Fellow’s program. He has also served as president of the WVU chapters for the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, Neurosurgery Interest group, and Erlenmeyer Initiative Entrepreneur group. In addition, he has served as vice president for the graduate student neuroscience interest group, Nu Rho Psi Honor Society, and medical students for global health. He is currently a member of the UF House Staff Council, Positive Culture Committee, Quality Improvement Committee, Board of Directors Alachua County Medical Society, and Accreditation Requirements Review Committee. Follow Dr. Lucke-Wold on LinkedIn, ResearchGate and his homepage.

The way Dr. Lucke-Wold sees it, peer review is critical for propelling strong science forward, training the next generation, and getting quality work out to benefit patients. Adequate peer review is necessary for the promotion of discovery and providing refinement of clinical questions.

Seeing the trend of research data sharing in recent years, Dr. Lucke-Wold emphasizes that it is imperative to share these data in order to answer more detailed questions. The higher the n number for a given study, the more accurate it becomes in detecting true population.

How I allocate time to do peer review out of a busy schedule is to compete interests in terms of time and commitment for patients. The only way to advance the field forward, however, is to get solid science out for bettering the system. It is an imperative part of the process,” says Dr. Lucke-Wold.

(By Brad Li, Alisa Lu)

December, 2022

Evert F S van Velsen

Dr. Evert van Velsen is an internist-endocrinologist at the Department of Internal Medicine at the Erasmus Medical Center (Rotterdam, The Netherlands). He studied Computer Sciences at the Utrecht University, and both Clinical Epidemiology and Medicine at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. In February 2022, he defended his PhD thesis, which mainly focused on the prognosis and prognostic factors of differentiated thyroid cancer. His research is focused on osteoporosis, and rare bone and parathyroid disorders. Both his clinical and research work are embedded within the Erasmus MC Bone Center.

Peer review, according to Dr. van Velsen, is a quality-control step to avoid publication of papers which have (currently) not enough quality regarding their research question, methodology, statistics and/or interpretation of the results, therewith aiming to improve these papers and avoid introducing bias into the medical literature. He deems that reviewers have to be objective and respectful, and factors like the prestige of the submitting authors should not affect the decision on the manuscript.

My main motivations for peer-reviewing are to ensure that published manuscripts are of enough quality, and next to this, it also helps me to critically look at my own research and therewith enhance its quality,” says Dr. van Velsen.

(By Brad Li, Alisa Lu)