Reviewer of the Month (2023)

Posted On 2023-09-04 11:28:01

In 2023, 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, 2023
João Agostinho Machado-Neto, University of São Paulo, Brazil

March, 2023
Xavier Adhoute, Hôpital Saint Joseph, France

May, 2023
Emma Briggs, University of Leeds, UK

June, 2023
Jung Kyong Shin, Sungkyunkwan University, Korea

July, 2023
Prapaporn Suprasert, Chiang Mai University, Thailand

August, 2023
Lorenzo Belluomini, University of Verona, Italy

October, 2023
Ravi P. Sahu, Wright State University, USA

November, 2023
Biagio Barone, AORN Sant’Anna e San Sebastiano, Italy

December, 2023
Mohsen Sheykhhasan, Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research, Iran

January, 2023

João Agostinho Machado-Neto

Dr. João Agostinho Machado-Neto received his Master’s degree in Internal Medicine (2011) and Ph.D. (2015) degree in Science from the University of Campinas. His studies in preclinical and translational research in hematological cancer continued through a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of São Paulo. In 2017, he became an Assistant Professor at the Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of São Paulo, Brazil. His lab is focused on the identification of molecular targets and novel drugs in cancer. In 2023, his research group was awarded in the oncology research category by one of the main oncology awards in Brazil, “XIV Prêmio Octávio Frias de Oliveira” (sponsored by ICESP/Folha group). Learn more about Dr. Machado-Neto from his homepage, ResearchGate, ORCID, and connect with him on Instagram.

Bias are inevitable in peer review and should be minimized whenever they occur. In Dr. Machado-Neto’s opinion, reviewers evaluate manuscripts in areas of science in which they contribute or have contributed, which implies a series of preformed concepts about the topic under evaluation. Being open to new possibilities and new hypotheses based on innovative results is the first step to accepting knowledge that can break paradigms. In addition, he believes reviewers should focus on providing constructive feedback that improves the final work. Evaluating a manuscript with the same rigor and pressure that one evaluates manuscripts published with his/her research group is a good start.

From a reviewer’s perspective, Dr. Machado-Neto stresses that the disclosure of Conflict of Interest (COI) by authors is of utmost importance. The presence of COI in the context of research can generate biased conclusions and is often supported by results or experiments that are not robust or not adequate. COI declaration by reviewers, to him, is also desired, as this may also impact the assessment.

“Peer review provides us with many unique opportunities. For the reviewer – knowing an original study firsthand and being able to contribute to the refinement of the manuscript through constructive criticism (even anonymously) or even avoiding the publication of errors of concepts within a field of study. For the authors – having the opinion of specialists in the area and being able to improve the text and figures to be published, which increases the chances of citations. Often, the reviewers' opinions or suggestions cannot be incorporated by the authors in the current version of the manuscript, but they help in the continuity of projects and in the generation of new hypotheses to be tested in the future,” says Dr. Machado-Neto.

(By Brad Li, Alisa Lu)

March, 2023

Xavier Adhoute

Dr. Xavier Adhoute is a hepatogastroenterologist and digestive oncologist. He has been working at Hôpital Saint Joseph in Marseille, France since 2008 with a great paramedical team. The department is organized into four areas: the inpatient unit, the endoscopy unit, the consulting unit, and the clinical research unit. His department is particularly involved in the management of tumoral and non-tumoral hepatobiliary diseases. Dr. Adhoute’s activity is structured as follows: patient management, training delivered to young doctors, completion and updating regional and national databases on hepatobiliary diseases, writing and reviewing articles.

When Dr. Adhoute starts a review, his first question is: “Am I convinced or not by this manuscript? And I’d justify my decision the best I can”. To do this, he reads the manuscript several times, and whenever necessary, questions his statistician colleague, as methodology is an essential and sometimes complex criterion. He also attaches singular importance to the discussion part, and does not hesitate to re-read cited references. The idea is sometimes to improve the manuscript, if necessary, especially in the case of rejection. He adds, “Our criticism must be constructive. Some authors have become true writing professionals, but many remain amateurs, because we are first and foremost clinicians, and I think we must deal with this exercise both professionally and with humility.”

While conducting a review, Dr. Adhoute believes that one must always remember how much time and effort go into writing an article. For him, reviewing is a rigorous, methodical and altruistic exercise. Therefore, even though the burden of being a clinician and researcher is heavy that restrains him from peer reviewing during weekdays, he tries to squeeze time to do most of his proofreading on weekends.

Lastly, from a reviewer’s point of view, Dr. Adhoute stresses that it is important for authors to specify any potential Conflict of Interest (COI). However, he also believes that the ethical and integrity-based commitment to one’s profession goes beyond that. In view of this, several reviewers on board is a security.

(by Brad Li, Karina Yang)

May, 2023

Emma Briggs

Emma Briggs has been a Postgraduate Researcher on the UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Artificial Intelligence for Medical Diagnosis and Care at the University of Leeds since 2020. Emma’s primary area of research is investigating the uses of AI in clinical risk-prediction tools which exploit readily-available electronic health record data. Her current research works towards developing primary care cancer risk assessment tools for oesophageal and gastric cancer in order to facilitate earlier detection and diagnosis. Other areas of interest include improving the quality of healthcare research data and addressing the challenges that arise when using electronic health record data to make predictions, such as biases and inconsistencies which arise in the data. Her research is supported by Macmillan Cancer Support and The Phoenix Partnership, UK. You may learn more about her on the research page.

In Emma’s opinion, peer review assesses the relevance, originality, importance, and quality of original research manuscripts and it is also a great chance to connect with other researchers in the field, gain insight into novel research areas, and reflect on the quality of your own work in relation to others. “It provides a benchmark for the standard of research and challenges bias,” says Emma. She also believes that peer review provides a new perspective for the authors to consider in their work. “Coming from an interdisciplinary research background, I personally hugely value the contribution of experts from different fields in my work, and I think that peer review also provides the opportunity to experience this to a certain extent,” Emma explains, “Insights from other disciplines not only improve the quality of the actual research being carried out, but also the quality of communication so that the work can be made more accessible to others working in different fields who might also benefit from it.”

Emma considers serve as an open dialogue between authors and reviewers, facilitating honest communication and leading to a better understanding from both parties. Thoughtful reviews which pay attention to detail are usually the most effective. Destructive reviews, in her opinion, are those that are either too lenient or shut down progress without giving authors enough guidance. In summary, she suggests that reviews can be aimed to ensure that the research cuts through the ‘noise’ and focuses on the opportunity to truly advance the field and help research accelerate towards the right goals in a more streamlined manner.

“A good review is just as important as good original research, and we have a responsibility to set the standards of research for now and for the future.” Emma encourages other reviewers. “No piece of research stands on its own – everything is built upon past work and peer review is one way of ensuring quality in this process. Committing to peer review means committing to better, more accessible scientific research for all.”

From a reviewer’s perspective, Emma thinks it is crucial that authors adhere to reporting guidelines where relevant as these provide consistency and standardization, and a chance to clarify certain aspects of the research which might otherwise have been bypassed. These guidelines also increase the value of the work to other researchers by making sure that the research is transparent, reproducible, and limits bias. She added, “They also make it much easier to compare and connect different pieces of research, and they instill a sense of trust in the reader. Following reporting guidelines helps authors to accept the limitations in their work and recognize its relevance.”

(By Lareina Lim, Karina Yang)

June, 2023

Jung Kyong Shin

Dr. Jung Kyong Shin currently serves in the Department of Surgery, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. Her research area is in surgical oncology. Recently, she has been conducting projects on psycho-oncology, immunotherapy, sarcopenia, and geriatric oncology.

In Dr. Shin’s opinion, an objective peer review of a scientific paper by various experts is essential. It can only develop with the evaluation of various experts, such as its importance in the field of research, its potential for future development, and whether it is applied in clinical practice. In addition, peer evaluation is crucial because one can learn from the opinions of various experts that he or she has not considered, and through this, one can develop further.

A healthy peer-review system, according to Dr. Shin, is one that involves reviewers presenting an objective perspective, whilst the author should be open to accepting it. Appropriate questions and opinions for the development of the paper should be presented based on expert opinions, rather than unconditionally critical views.

In addition, from a reviewer’s perspective, Dr. Shin believes that institutional review board (IRB) approval is important for prospective studies and randomized controlled trials as well as retrospective studies. The basis of a study is that it must have ethical validity. Studies conducted without due process are not worth evaluating. If this process is omitted, indiscriminate studies regardless of the patient's intention will be conducted, which will inevitably lose its value as the study itself becomes the purpose.

(by Brad Li, Karina Yang)

July, 2023

Prapaporn Suprasert

Dr. Prapaporn Suprasert is a renowned specialist in gynecologic oncology. Graduating from Chiang Mai University's Faculty of Medicine in 1989, she embarked on a distinguished career. After three years as a general doctor at Fang Hospital, she pursued a specialization in Obstetrics & Gynecology, earning a Thai Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology diploma in 1995 and a Thai Sub-board of Gynecologic Oncology diploma in 2002. Joining Chiang Mai University's Faculty of Medicine in 1997, Dr. Suprasert became a staff member, later ascending to Head of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology in 2005 and Head of the department from 2017 to 2019. In 2004, she enhanced her expertise as a visiting doctor at the National Cancer Center, in Tokyo, Japan. With over 100 PubMed articles to her name, Dr. Suprasert is a respected academic. She has also been an Associate Professor since 2005 and an active member of the Thai Gynecology Oncology Society, with a core expertise in gynecologic cancer especially in ovarian and vulva. Her contributions have significantly advanced the field and improved women's healthcare.

As a reviewer, Dr. Suprasert tries to minimize the potential biases during a review. She employs two effective practices: blind review and reviewer guidelines.

To allocate time for peer review as a scientist/doctor, Dr. Suprasert prioritizes it in her schedule, and set realistic limits on the number of reviews she accepts. She also communicates openly with journal editors and uses time management techniques to ensure she provides high-quality reviews while managing her other responsibilities.

In addition, Dr. Suprasert reckons that it is crucial for authors to share their research data. She believes data sharing promotes transparency, enables reproducibility, fosters collaboration, accelerates innovation, and fulfills ethical and legal obligations, ultimately advancing knowledge and addressing critical societal challenges.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

August, 2023

Lorenzo Belluomini

Lorenzo Belluomini is a medical oncologist and researcher based at the University of Verona. Graduating from the University of Pisa with a degree in medicine, he pursued his specialization at the University of Ferrara before embarking on a PhD program at the University of Verona in 2020. In March 2023, he assumed the role of Assistant Professor at the University of Verona, marking a significant milestone in his academic career. Since his residency program, he developed a strong interest into the study of lung cancer, and, in the last years, his research focuses on the study of special population, especially those with lung cancer and chronic viral infections, and on the study of lifestyle approach in oncological patients. Dr. Belluomini is currently working as research fellow at the Institute Gustave Roussy in Paris, under the mentorship of Prof. Zitvogel, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to advancing oncological research on an international stage. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

In Dr. Belluomini’s opinion, peer review plays a crucial role in science by ensuring the quality and integrity of research. It involves experts evaluating the validity, significance, and originality of scholarly work before it gets published, helping to maintain the credibility and reliability of scientific literature.

An objective review, according to Dr. Belluomini, is one that is impartial, fair, and based solely on the merits of the research presented. To ensure objectivity, he focuses on evaluating the methodology, evidence, and reasoning provided in the manuscript rather than personal biases or preconceptions. Additionally, he strives to separate his own opinions from the evaluation process and adhere strictly to the guidelines and criteria set by the journal or publication.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to all the dedicated reviewers who tirelessly contribute to the advancement of scientific progress behind the scenes. Your commitment to rigorously evaluating research plays a vital role in maintaining the integrity and credibility of scientific knowledge. Keep up the excellent work and know that your efforts are truly valued and appreciated by the scientific community,” says Dr. Belluomini.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

October, 2023

Ravi P. Sahu

Dr. Ravi P. Sahu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Boonshoft School of Medicine Wright State University in Dayton, USA. His research is focused on determining the significance and mechanisms of pro-oxidative stressors-generated oxidized lipid mediators in impacting cancer growth and the efficacy of therapeutic agents. He has given invited talks to various national and international scientific organizations, published several peer-reviewed papers, and serves as an editorial board member, academic editor, and ad-hoc reviewer of several scientific journals.

According to Dr. Sahu, peer review is an important process to validate the significance, impact, and quality of the study, and gives authors the opportunity to improve their manuscript.

As the burden of being a scientist and doctor is heavy, Dr. Sahu always takes time out of his personal obligations to do peer review as it is critical to submit the review comments within the allotted time frame to maintain publication ethics.

Lastly, Dr. Sahu highlights that the Conflict of Interest (COI) of authors can potentially influence how the research was conducted, interpreted, and presented. Thus, disclosing COI is critical to maintaining integrity, unbiasedness, and good work ethics.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

November, 2023

Biagio Barone

Dr. Biagio Barone is a specialist in Urology and Andrology currently working at AORN Sant’Anna e San Sebastiano in Caserta, Italy, where he is also serving as head of the urological unit in the multidisciplinary oncology group. Recently, he has obtained the National Scientific Qualification for the position of Associate Professor in the Academic Recruitment Field 06/E2 – Plastic Reconstructive Surgery, Pediatric Surgery and Urology. His research focuses on a broad spectrum within the urologic and andrologic fields, encompassing various key areas, from urolithiasis to urologic oncology and male infertility. His most recent projects are on bladder cancer, interstitial cystitis and sexual dysfunction, although he is also involved in research related to the novel field of liquid biopsy in urologic oncology. Connect with him on LinkedIn or learn more about his work here.

In Dr. Barone’s opinion, the existing peer-review process, while representing a cornerstone of academic publishing, has its share of limitations related to the potential bias, both conscious and unconscious, associated with the evaluation of the manuscripts. This could include biases related to author demographics, institutional affiliations or even the perceived prestige of the journal. Additionally, it is possible to have certain conflicts of interest (COIs) between reviewers and authors. He indicates that several strategies could be considered to improve the current system, which range from double blinding review to open and transparent peer review. Incentivizing reviewers could improve the quality and the timeliness of peer-review process.

To all the dedicated reviewers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to advance scientific progress, I want to express my sincere gratitude. As an assiduous reviewer myself, a concise, timely and sincere peer review is important for the authors, in order to improve the quality of work submitted, and for us reviewers, permitting us to explore a humongous quantity of data and information which could enhance our knowledge and mastery of our field. Being a reviewer is mostly the first step for a long journey into the academic career and, although it could seem a boring work, it could greatly help first-time researchers to improve the quality of their work,” says Dr. Barone.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

December, 2023

Mohsen Sheykhhasan

Dr. Mohsen Sheykhhasan currently serves at the Department of Mesenchymal Stem Cell, the Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research in Iran, Qom. He studied at Mazandaran University, in Iran, where he obtained a master’s degree in Biotechnology in 2010. After years of working in the Stem Cell field in Department of Mesenchymal Stem Cell, the Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research, he obtained a PhD degree in Medical Biotechnology from Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Hamadan, Iran in 2022. He is interested in fields including stem cells, exosomes, immunotherapy and non-coding RNA. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

In peer review, bias is unavoidable and should be reduced anytime it manifests itself. According to Dr. Sheykhhasan, reviewers assess papers in scientific fields to which they are or have contributed, implying a set of preconceived notions regarding the subject matter being assessed. The first step in adopting knowledge that might disrupt paradigms is to be receptive to novel ideas and theories based on inventive findings. Furthermore, he thinks that reviewers have to concentrate on offering helpful criticism that enhances the finished product. It is a good idea to analyze a paper with the same level of rigor and pressure that one applies to publications published with their research group. In addition, he believes that peer reviewers should inform the editors of any possible or actual bias in order to prevent or mitigate bias. They ought to reject or step down from the review if they do not think they can be impartial or fair. Additionally, they ought to study articles from different disciplines, fields, or regions in an effort to widen their viewpoints. As said before, they should also be receptive to fresh perspectives, base their assessments on the facts and evidence supplied by the writers, and double-check the authors' sources, references, and methodology.

I'm pleased to have read an essay that speaks to my passion and area of interest. I am currently working through this to the smallest detail, so I am unsure of the precise cause. It can be that reading well-written articles makes me feel like I've made a difference, fulfills a purpose I was searching for, and makes me happy to evaluate articles,” says Dr. Sheykhhasan.

From a reviewer’s perspective, Dr. Sheykhhasan stresses that researchers should apply for institutional review board (IRB) approval for their research. The IRB may accept, reject, or request changes to research in order to get approval, as per FDA standards. The rights and welfare of human research participants are safeguarded in large part by this group review. An IRB is necessary to safeguard subjects' rights and dignity. Institutions and organizations that performed research that involved human subjects did so before they needed IRB permission. These studies would not be permitted. The researcher may not be allowed to use data and other information gathered throughout the study process if IRB permission is not obtained before beginning research.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)