Reviewer of the Month (2023)

Posted On 2023-08-04 11:23:28

In 2023, APM 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
Ka Wai Alice Cheung, Velindre Cancer Centre, UK

February, 2023
Jean-Francois Rossi, University of Montpellier, France

March 2023
Masaki Sano, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Japan

April 2023
Fermin García-Muñoz Rodrigo, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario Insular Materno-Infantil, Spain
Anish Butala, University of Pennsylvania, USA

May, 2023
Philip Wong, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Canada

June, 2023
Laura A. Huppert, University of California, USA

July, 2023
Carolyn E Schwartz, Tufts University School of Medicine, USA

August, 2023
Eva Oldenburger, University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium

September, 2023
Lillian Ng, The University of Auckland, New Zealand

October, 2023
Carlos Eduardo Paiva, Formerly National Cancer Institute of Milan, Italy

November, 2023
Amy W. Johnson, Indiana University Health, USA

December, 2023
Manuel Guhlich, University Medical Center Göttingen, Germany

January, 2023

Ka Wai Alice Cheung

Alice Cheung is a Consultant Clinical Oncologist currently serving at Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom, specialising in gynaecological cancer. She was trained in Hong Kong and has been awarded the Frank Doyle Medal and the Rohan Williams Medal for the First and Final FRCR examination. She was awarded the Distinguished Young Fellow from the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine in 2016. In addition to her oncology experience, she also has a particular interest in palliative care and has undergone post-fellowship training with the Palliative Medicine Subspecialty Board under the Hong Kong College of Radiologists. She is keen to work on oncological treatment-related toxicities and cancer survivorship.

APM: Biases are inevitable in peer review. How do you minimize any potential biases during review?

Dr. Cheung: As a reviewer, reducing biases during the peer-review process is one of our missions, as this is important to safeguard the integrity of the process, at the same time enhancing diversity and equity in the medical research field. There are a lot of resources that we can read about how to do peer reviews properly, and there are even training courses that we can enroll in.

Before agreeing to review a manuscript, the first thing to consider would be whether I have sufficient time to complete the review, as it would be prone to have more superficial thinking and a less comprehensive consideration when making decisions under the pressure of time. It is also important to get familiarised with the requirements of the journal that the review is done for before reading the manuscript in detail. Though a completely bias-free system is unlikely as long as humans are involved, utilising standard checklists and following objective decision-making processes would be helpful in reducing biases. Throughout the process, self-awareness and reflection is also essential, reminding ourselves not to judge with regard to factors other than the scientific quality of the manuscripts.

APM: Is it important for authors to disclose Conflict of Interest (COI)?

Dr. Cheung: It is of utmost importance for authors to disclose COI, including financial or other personal considerations, as these could be associated with an increased risk of bias, compromising the integrity or professional judgment of the researchers. The study validity and study objectives could be questionable if there is COI. However, how much this would influence the quality or outcome of the research would also be affected by the study design and methodology, for example, randomised controlled trials would be less influenced by COI, while the opposite is true with observational studies. It is also useful to assess whether there have been any attempts to nullify or mitigate the conflicts or to isolate the conflicted individuals from all decision-making functions.

APM: What is so fascinating about peer reviewing?

Dr. Cheung: It is always interesting to read about what others in the field have been working on, as researchers always have brilliant ideas about the current knowledge gaps and how to design the trials to address those research questions. Through peer reviewing, I can stay on top of the most recent research and get aspirations about new research ideas. It is also satisfying to be able to contribute to medical research.

(by Brad Li, Alisa Lu)

February, 2023

Jean-Francois Rossi

Jean-Francois Rossi is a Professor Emeritus of Hematology at the University of Montpellier, France. He studied at the Faculty of Medicine of Montpellier with a post-doctoral fellowship at Tuscon Az University, and he was a research fellow at the NIH and in San Antonio, TX. He is board certified in rheumatology, immunology, internal medicine, medical oncology, and hematology. He was head of the hematology department at Montpellier University Hospital for 18 years. He continues to develop research in Immune and Cellular Therapy with Inserm Montpellier and a spin-off start-up, Innomune. He had medical activity at the Avignon-Provence Cancer Institute. He has 208 publications and received an AACR award in 2017 for his work on inflammation and interleukin 6, more recently developing the optimization of anti-IL6 therapies through a mathematical model. He is a member of different international scientific societies.

In Dr. Rossi’s opinion, it is essential to maintain a high scientific standard when evaluating academic-scientific articles, especially in peer review or expert review, similar to the usual article evaluation process. To him, this is fundamental to maintaining scientific and impartial ethics in the evaluation of articles. This means having rules to maintain such a scientific level, contributing to the independence of reviewers. Under these conditions, such a peer-review system represents a faster way to evaluate hot articles and results to be proposed to researchers. In the meantime, the reviewers must keep in mind the standard ethical rules as they wish to be applied to them.

Even though peer review is anonymous and non-profitable, I am motivated to do so because peer review may be highlighted in the CV as well as the status of associate editor or any other position and recognized by the academic system,” says Dr. Rossi.

(by Brad Li, Alisa Lu)

March 2023

Masaki Sano

Masaki Sano, MD, PhD, currently serves at the Department of Surgery, Lymphatic Center, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Hamamatsu, Japan. His work predominantly covers lymphedema, Transforming Growth Factor-β (TGF-β), vasa vasorum, atherosclerosis, and aortic aneurysms. His current projects are based on developing an innovative treatment plan for secondary lymphedema whilst examining atherosclerosis and aortic aneurysm pathophysiology. Furthermore, Sano has a particular interest in the interrelationship between vasa vasorum and vascular diseases. Dr. Sano’s profile can be found here.

Dr. Sano believes peer review should be performed instantly and appropriately. He indicates that while the determined period for a peer review is often about 1 ~ 2 weeks, it often takes about 1 ~ 2 months to return the review to the authors. In view of this, Dr. Sano suggests that the journal office improve the time-lag between “under review” and “in editing”.

Being asked why he chooses to review manuscripts for APM, Dr. Sano reveals that the content of the manuscript that he reviewed was related to lymphedema, which caught his attention.

In addition, Dr. Sano goes on to give us some writing tips in making a good review. He points out one important thing to do is to point out all problems during initial peer review. He believes that pointing out problems during the second review goes against fair play. “It’s like cheating at rock-paper-scissors,” he says. He prefers to reject manuscripts that have severe issues that cannot be resolved in revised versions. Examples of severe issues include mistaken animal models used in basic studies, incorrect grouping in clinical research, and discrepancy between methods and conclusion.

Dr. Sano’s insights provide valuable perspective on the peer-review process and his work will continue to have a meaningful impact on the field of palliative medicine.

(by Karina Yang, Brad Li)

April 2023

Fermin García-Muñoz Rodrigo

Dr. Fermín García-Muñoz Rodrigo was born and educated mainly in Spain. He attained the qualification of Specialist in Pediatrics (MIR) in Madrid in 1989 and achieved his Master degree in Bioethics in 2005, then completed his PhD with the doctoral thesis entitled: "Morbidity and mortality in infants with gestational age less than or equal to 26 weeks: Study of the limits of viability in our area.” in 2014.  He is a Permanent Consultant Neonatologist in the Complejo Hospitalario Universitario Insular Materno-Infantil of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria since 1992, a member of the Spanish Official College of Physicians since 1983 and the Director of Neonatal Division since 2000. During his course of career, he has published extensively and have got the valuable experience of staying at the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Brompton Hospital and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, London, in 2014, for a three-month observational program. His fields of interest include bioethics, epidemiology, limits of viability, maternal and infant health, morbidity and mortality of the newborn, pulmonary disease of the newborn and mechanical ventilation.

APM: What do you regard as a healthy peer-review system?

Dr. García-Muñoz Rodrigo: The review of academic-scientific articles, an activity also known as peer review or expert review, is essential to maintain the quality of scientific communication and, therefore, of science itself. It is an evaluation process that should be carried out by people with skills, at least, similar to those of the authors of the evaluated papers. A "healthy" peer-review system should have reviewers and editorial teams with appropriate technical skills and with responsible, impartial, and ethical professional conduct. Reviewers must also be experts in the subject of the research or in the methodology used and, where appropriate, acknowledge their limitations or lack of competence in specific cases, as well as their potential conflicts of interest with the research in question. The peer-review process judges the validity, significance, and originality of the research, but it should not judge the professionals who conducted it. In order for the peer-review system to run smoothly, editors are responsible for finding the right reviewers. Meanwhile, reviewers must be honest and diligent in their response to accept or reject the review. Peer-review practices differ substantially between journals and disciplines. It is essential that reviewers are aware of the publication standards of the journal for which they are reviewing, both in terms of guidelines for authors and for the reviewers themselves. Other important issues to keep in mind for reviewers to contribute to a healthy review system are being practical and ethical. Reviewers should request all the clarifications they need if there is any part of the communication or the editor's guidelines that they do not understand. They should NOT communicate with the authors directly. From an ethical point of view, reviewers must maintain the confidentiality of the reviewed papers. These should not be shared without permission from the publishers.

APM: What are the limitations of the existing peer-review system? What can be done to improve it?

Dr. García-Muñoz Rodrigo: There are two main types of limitations of the current peer-review process. The first has to do with the availability and quality of reviewers. Perhaps the most prestigious journals have a greater number of reviewers and reviewers with greater competencies. However, some lower quality journals might be interested in publishing more or faster and this might make the review system less demanding. A good review requires a significant investment of time and effort from both of the reviewer and the editorial team, and these are not always adequately compensated beyond personal intellectual satisfaction or increased academic merit. To improve the availability and quality of reviewers, different strategies have been proposed, and some of which are already underway. For example, various consortia, professional societies, and publishers offer free training courses for reviewers and establish guidelines and ethical codes for review. Publishers could contribute to the professionalization of reviewers and the creation of a specialized pool of them. The second limitation has to do with the review methodology itself, with the potential risks of bias, fraud, and lack of transparency. In order to improve the peer-review methodology, it should be subject to continuous scrutiny and evaluation. In general, a transparent review processes should be promoted, for example, with the additional publication of the review process file, with the timeline and all relevant communications of the review process, anonymous reviewer comments, decision letters, and author responses. Collaborative peer review, in which two or more reviewers work together to review a manuscript and submit a unified report, is also gaining some interest.

APM: Is it important for authors to disclose Conflict of Interest (COI)? To what extent would a COI influence a research?

Dr. García-Muñoz Rodrigo: Yes, I think so. In short, a COI is considered any financial (tangible) or non-financial (intangible) relationship that could compromise the professional objectivity of the researcher in terms of the design, development, interpretation or disclosure of the results of an investigation. Although they do not always and in all cases constitute a lack of ethics, being in fact on many occasions unavoidable, they must be declared for the sake of research transparency and out of respect for the scientific community and the public in general. Both the actual existence of COI and the mere perception of their existence can erode trust in science and cause researchers to lose prestige. Research recipients themselves, readers and society, can judge whether an author's relationships and activities are relevant to the research content.

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Anish Butala

Anish Butala, MD, is the Chief of the Palliative Radiation Oncology Service and Director of the Spine Radiotherapy Program at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is an Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology. He specializes in the treatment of oligo- and poly-metastatic disease, with a particular interest in the management of spine and non-spine bone metastases. His recent research has focused on the utility of palliative radiotherapy in various malignancies, as well as toxicity profiles of palliative radiotherapy in conjunction with modern systemic agents (including immunotherapy). Get to know more about Dr. Butala here.

An objective review is critical to maintaining the quality of science a journal publishes and disseminates to its readership. Given the influence a published article may have on direct patient care, Dr. Butala believes it is scientist’s responsibility to ensure the peer-review process is as rigorous and thoughtful as possible. To ensure his review is objective, he would first attempt to blind himself from the name and institution of the authors (if provided). This allows him to focus on the scientific merits of the manuscript, and minimizes influence of institutional prestige or prior knowledge of the group’s work. He also strives to review the article multiple times to ensure that his conclusions remain similar over time, and that his impression is not unduly influenced by one isolated review of the manuscript. Finally, he takes diligent notes to generate specific, actionable feedback with clear references to sections of the manuscript. This minimizes the amount of generic or biased recommendations based on anecdotal experience, and allows the authors to reasonably address suggestions prior to potential publication.

Speaking of the qualities a reviewer should possess, Dr. Butala points out that a reviewer should optimally be inquisitive and well read on the current body of literature, thorough as it relates to note taking and manuscript review, and thoughtful when summarizing salient points of the article and providing specific, actionable feedback. Objectivity, as summarized above, is also critical. Above all else, the reviewer should place the manuscript in the context of patient care and assess whether it will meaningfully contribute to the body of existing science and potentially improve or inform patient care.

I choose to review for APM because of the high quality of meaningful work the journal publishes, especially as it relates to my sub-specialty within Radiation Oncology. I trust the peer-review process and scientific integrity of the journal and reference the work published in APM frequently when making clinical decisions. It is a privilege to contribute to this process,” says Dr. Butala.

(by Brad Li, Alisa Lu)

May, 2023

Philip Wong

Dr. Philip Wong is a radiation oncologist affiliated with the University of Toronto at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. His clinical interests encompass sarcomas, skin cancers, long-term radiation toxicities, and the radiotherapy management of metastatic cancer patients. He is also involved in research projects aimed at using novel engineering tools and biologic drugs to optimize the use of radiotherapy in various patient cohorts with metastatic cancers, the integration of radiotherapy techniques, systemic treatments, and wearable tools represents a promising approach to enhancing patients' quality and quantity of life.

Dr. Wong stresses the importance of peer review in science and believes it ensures the quality of scientific publications. Additionally, peer review presents authors with chances to enhance the messages conveyed in their work. However, Dr. Wong acknowledges that this process may impede the publishing of less traditional or more unconventional studies. He suggests that the value of science should sometimes be left to the audience and that the role of peer review should focus on guaranteeing a minimum standard, promoting reproducibility, and assisting the authors in better contextualizing their work.

Constructive reviews play a significant role in improving scientific research. According to Dr. Wong, constructive reviews aim to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the study's hypothesis, methods, and discussion. Moreover, they involve posing questions to the authors to derive further insights that could augment the value of their work. Conversely, destructive reviews typically criticize the work without possessing the necessary knowledge or experience within the presented work's scope. Dr. Wong further explains, that this type of review “sometimes involves reviewers who are unable to spend time digging further or are unwilling to accept their limitations in a certain field.”

Dr. Wong encourages reviewers to share their duties and responsibilities while seeking out a mechanism to engage the audience and readers to add their views and insights once an article has been published. “If the pool of reviewers were larger, the accuracy of journal reviews would improve along with response times,” he suggests. Dr. Wong advises incentivizing readers to comment by offering temporary access to journal articles, discounts on publication fees, or by organizing/publishing a journal club featuring articles based on their comments.

From a reviewer's perspective, Dr. Wong advocates for authors' adherence to reporting guidelines while preparing their manuscripts. He believes that reporting guidelines assist reviewers and readers in reading and digesting information in a uniform manner, and ensure the necessary information for critical assessment and reproduction of scientific work.

(By Lareina Lim, Karina Yang)

June, 2023

Laura A. Huppert

Dr. Laura Huppert is an Assistant Professor and breast medical oncologist at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), USA. She earned her medical degree at Harvard Medical School. She completed Internal Medicine Residency and Hematology/Oncology Fellowship at UCSF before starting on faculty at UCSF in July 2022. Dr. Huppert is interested in clinical and translational breast cancer research in both early-stage and metastatic diseases. She is involved in the I-SPY2 clinical trial for neoadjuvant therapy in early-stage breast cancer. She is also interested in designing clinical trials with novel therapies for patients with metastatic breast cancer and is the PI of several investigator-initiated clinical trials with novel agents. She has a particular interest in breast cancer that has metastasized to the central nervous system and conducts translational research in this space aimed to better identify prevention and treatment strategies. Connect with her on X (Twitter) @Laura_Huppert.

In Dr. Huppert’s opinion, the peer-review process is integral to advancing science and medicine, as it ensures that research has been vetted by peers to ensure the clarity, quality, and accuracy of the work before it is disseminated. She has submitted papers and received very thoughtful review comments which she was able to address prior to publishing and significantly strengthened the work. In turn, she tries to be a reviewer when she can as well – she always learns by reading papers submitted by her colleagues and identifying strengths of their work as well as areas of clarification that could further improve their work.

According to Dr. Huppert, the existing peer-review system is limited by difficulty finding reviewers. Physicians and scientists are extremely busy, so it can be one extra thing added to an already full plate. However, it may slow down the publishing process if editors cannot find qualified reviewers.

Moreover, Dr. Huppert indicates that it is important for authors to disclose Conflict of Interest (COI) so that reviewers and readers are aware of possible conflicts that may influence their work. She is grateful that this is now a standard practice for most journals and conferences.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

July, 2023

Carolyn E Schwartz

Dr. Carolyn Schwartz is President & Chief Scientist at the not-for-profit DeltaQuest Foundation; and Adjunct Research Professor of Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery at the Tufts University School of Medicine, USA. As the 2016 recipient of the International Society for Quality of Life Research (ISOQOL) President's Award and ISOQOL Honorary Member since 2018, her interdisciplinary and methodological research focuses on understanding what patients can do to have an impact on the course of their disease and their well-being. In addition to development of theory and methods for response-shift research in quality of life, her work has spanned a number of diseases and conditions, and she has developed over 20 patient-reported outcome measures. She has published more than 225 peer-reviewed articles and served as editor for about 20 books or special sections of journals. Dr. Schwartz earned a bachelor's degree Magna Cum Laude in Psychology from UCLA, a master's degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of Connecticut, and a Doctor of Science degree (Sc.D.) from the Harvard Chan School of Public Health with an emphasis on Behavioral Sciences, Biostatistics, and Immunology/Cancer Biology. She did her postdoctoral training in multiple sclerosis at the Center for Neurologic Diseases of the Brigham and Women's Hospital of Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Schwartz thinks that a healthy peer-review system enables the improvement of scientific work by dint of the respectful, candid feedback of anonymous reviewers. In her opinion, it requires a foundation of trust that the reviewers will not use their anonymity to steal others’ work or to be rude or otherwise disrespectful.

Dr. Schwartz generally only accepts to review papers that she finds of interest and whose abstract suggests sufficient scientific merit to be worthy of consideration, because she feels it is a meaningful way to contribute to scientific research. She explains, “Sometimes this is because the research question is novel, and other times it is because the research question is far from novel or is founded on methods that are not rigorous.” Additionally, she may accept to review and be willing to learn something useful to her work, such as new statistical methods or novel research questions in a (sub)field in which she is active.

Finally, from a reviewer’s point of view, Dr. Schwartz stresses that it is important for authors to disclose Conflicts of Interest (COI) only if their conflict would lead to a biased perspective or emphasis in presenting their empirical results. She explains, “I am often struck by the invasiveness of COI forms, asking about roles and funding sources that are wholly unrelated to the manuscript at hand. I feel that this extensive disclosure is unnecessary and violates the authors’ right to privacy.”

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

August, 2023

Eva Oldenburger

Dr. Eva Oldenburger was born and raised in the Netherlands, but was mainly educated in Belgium. She qualified as a radiation-oncologist in 2014 and currently works at the University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium as a radiation-oncologist and palliative care physician. She is currently finishing her PhD on ePROM implementation after palliative radiotherapy for symptom follow-up. Her areas of interest are gynecological oncology, brachytherapy, treatment modalities for bone metastasis, communication and integration of palliative care early in the disease trajectory. Connect with Dr. Oldenberger on LinkedIn.

APM: What role does peer review play in science?

Dr. Oldenberger: I believe that the peer-review system is essential to maintain quality of scientific publications, by checking the validity, significance and originality of a study. Holding each other as researchers accountable for well performed research, resulting in reliable data, is the strongest method we have to progress scientific knowledge.

APM: What do you regard as a healthy peer-review system?

Dr. Oldenberger: In a healthy peer-review system, the review is carried out by people with skills and knowledge that overlap or are similar to those of the authors of the paper that they have to evaluate. The review process should be transparent to reduce the risk of bias or even fraud. Reviewers must be honest and diligent in their response during their review, be impartial and try to provide authors with feedback on how to improve and enrich their manuscript. Professional integrity of the reviewers is also important, with reviewers maintaining the confidentiality of manuscripts they have reviewed. Additionally, in a healthy system, a reviewer should reject a review due to lack of knowledge about specific subjects or potential conflicts of interest.

APM: The burden of being a scientist/doctor is heavy. How do you allocate time to do peer review?

Dr. Oldenberger: A review indeed requires a significant investment of time and effort. As a researcher myself, I have always appreciated the colleagues who have been willing to provide my research with their review and feedback, so therefore I think it’s important to support my fellow researchers by reviewing their work. I am fortunate to work as a clinical physician in a tertiary center where one of my tasks is research and education, so I try to allocate some of this time to do peer review. Additionally, I focus my attention on reviewing papers that are within my areas of expertise. On the one hand, this means that I have the necessary background knowledge on the subject to smoothly review; on the other hand, it usually means that I’m interested in the subject of the manuscript I have to review.

APM: From a reviewer’s perspective, do you think it is important for authors to follow reporting guidelines (e.g. STROBE and CARE) during preparation of their manuscripts?

Dr. Oldenberger: I think that reporting guidelines are very important. These guidelines provide authors with a framework for the presentation of their data and reviewers a background for their review. I don’t believe that guidelines should always be followed to the letter, but should be well reported and framed in the methodology section of manuscripts. Some guidelines may not be ideal, but they are one of the tools we have to verify data presented in manuscripts.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

September, 2023

Lillian Ng

Dr. Lillian Ng works in adult psychiatry based in public hospital mental health and addictions services. Her research has focused on psychiatry, training in clinical psychiatry and medical education. Her doctoral research topic was on inquiries associated with mental health related homicide. This taught her much about reflexivity in designing sensitive research using qualitative methodology. Her training in forensic psychiatry and clinical work has provided an important insider-outsider perspective and great synergy in generating and supervising new lines of research. More recently, she has worked in maternal mental health services and is most interested in how parents can make sense of their trauma and in doing so, become more emotionally available to their children. Her teaching philosophy is based in Rogerian principles of empathy, related and positive regard. In addition, she teaches and mentors early career psychiatrists, psychiatric trainees and medical students.

APM: Why do we need peer review? What is so important about it?

Dr. Ng: I see peer review as a valuable contribution to our academic community of teaching and practice. Peer reviewer scrutiny has an important role in shaping and strengthening dialogue in research by thoughtful and constructive critique. It’s also important for promoting collegiality, transparency and accountability in inquiring about the research endeavor.

APM: What reviewers have to bear in mind while reviewing papers?

Dr. Ng: Taking into account the context of the research and taking a broad perspective of its potential contribution to the field, I keep in mind being timely, honest and fair in critique, aiming to be respectful of people’s ideas, interpretations and perspectives. I like to make clear, constructive suggestions that will strengthen the reporting of the research process and findings. Good writing is rewarding to read, good substance does more than just transmit knowledge – it has an impact on the way we think.

APM: Would you like to say a few words to encourage other reviewers who have been devoting themselves to advancing scientific progress behind the scene?

Dr. Ng: I’ve modelled my style of peer review from excellent peer reviewers who have provided incisive comments and considerate questions on my own research. Good offerings, where reviewers are generous in sharing their expertise and insights, make for worthwhile reading and learning. It’s a cycle of giving and receiving - thanks to those expert peer reviewers out there who take time and care in inviting researchers into dialogue.

APM: Data sharing is prevalent in scientific writing in recent years. Do you think it is crucial for authors to share their research data?

Dr. Ng: I’m mindful that reporting data involves researchers’ perspectives in data curation and telling the narrative of the research. Access to data makes the raw source available for scrutiny where the consumer can decide for themselves if they agree with the researchers’ interpretations. I am more cautious about sensitive data and the potential for misinterpretation of context. I think it’s likely to become more crucial in the future to promote research transparency and integrity.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

October, 2023

Carlos Eduardo Paiva

Dr. Carlos Paiva is a clinical oncologist and palliative care specialist who has been working at Barretos Cancer Hospital, a renowned center for the Public Treatment of Cancer in Latin America, since 2009. He has mentored several master's and doctoral students and currently serves as the coordinator of the hospital's Postgraduate Program, recognized as an excellent program by the Brazilian CAPES. A research productivity grantee at CNPq Brazil, level 2, Dr. Paiva has published more than 120 manuscripts indexed on PubMed. He is a member of the Designated Centres Working Group at ESMO and serves as a Section Editor for the Cancer Control journal. His primary interests lie in clinical oncology and palliative oncology, with a focus on strategies for integrating palliative care into oncology, minimizing the toxicity of cancer treatment, reducing symptom burden, and maximizing the quality of life. Additionally, an ongoing research line addresses endocrine therapy in breast cancer patients. Connect with Dr. Paiva on LinkedIn and Twitter @CEPaiva.

Dr. Paiva believes that a constructive review is characterized by specific and detailed feedback that acknowledges both strengths and weaknesses, offering concrete suggestions for improvement in a positive and contextualized manner. On the other hand, a destructive review lacks specificity, fails to provide constructive suggestions, adopts a negative tone, and may lack justification for the criticisms offered. A constructive review aims to guide the author toward enhancing the quality of their work, while a destructive review tends to discourage without providing meaningful insights for improvement. He fully believes in the scientific review process and finds it entirely plausible that the manuscript can improve. Reviewers need to identify significant flaws that may hinder a useful and reliable publication. Moreover, they should assist authors in viewing their manuscripts with a fresh perspective and help them enhance the quality of their article.

Even though peer reviewing is often anonymous, Dr. Paiva believes in the importance of contributing to the scientific community. It is a way for him to fulfill his professional responsibility, ensuring the quality and integrity of scholarly publications in his field. By participating in the peer-review process, he actively contributes to the advancement of knowledge and helps maintain the standards of research. Additionally, it allows him to stay informed about recent developments in his field, engage with diverse ideas, and assist fellow researchers in improving their work. While it may not bring financial rewards, the intrinsic satisfaction of being part of the scholarly discourse and the pursuit of knowledge serves as a strong motivation for his involvement in peer reviewing. He is only able to review a portion of the invitations he receives, but he strives to provide honest assistance whenever possible.

Lastly, Dr. Paiva indicates that data sharing is crucial for authors in scientific writing. It is important to note that research data encompasses a broad range of information integral to scientific inquiry, including raw or processed data files, representing the primary observations or measurements collected during an experiment or study. Additionally, research data extend to software, which may be employed for data analysis and manipulation, as well as the underlying code that governs these processes. Models, algorithms, and protocols used to structure and analyze data are also vital components of research data. Methods employed in experimental procedures, providing a framework for data collection and analysis, are likewise considered part of the research data. In essence, research data encompass a diverse array of elements crucial for the validation, reproduction, and advancement of scientific knowledge. He emphasizes that sharing data has the potential to provide researchers with recognition, increased citations, more publication opportunities, expanded exposure, and the chance to foster collaborations, contributing to academic impact. It promotes transparency, reproducibility, and collaboration in the scientific community. When authors make their data available, it allows other researchers to validate findings, replicate experiments, and build upon existing work, contributing to the overall robustness and reliability of scientific knowledge. However, it is essential for authors to exercise due diligence in handling data ethically and to respect local regulations. There are several repositories available for data sharing, facilitating the dissemination and accessibility of research findings, with many of them being entirely free of charge.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

November, 2023

Amy W. Johnson

Dr. Amy W. Johnson, DO, FCP, FAAHMP, is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine and is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis. She received her medical degree from Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2012. She completed both Internal Medicine Residency training and her hospice and palliative medicine Fellowship at Indiana University in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Research interests include medical education in Oncology Fellows and Palliative Care for patients with end-stage liver disease. Resent publications have been focused on opioid use in patients with end-stage liver disease and palliative care referral criteria for patients with end-stage liver disease.

Dr. Jognson thinks a healthy peer-review system is anonymous and thoughtful review from several experts in order to make sure that the science is sound and results will lead to improved patient care. She enjoys seeing what research ideas are out there and encouraged every time she sees a new topic in her area of interest. By being a part of the review process, she can help ensure improved science in palliative medicine.

As a reviewer, Dr. Johnson reckons that reviewers need to be very cautious for unconscious biases. She believes that they should always focus on improving patient care which limits the conflicts, but it is important to be open about any potential influences.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

December, 2023

Manuel Guhlich

Dr. Manuel Guhlich works as a senior consultant in the Department of Professor Stefan Rieken, the Clinic of Radiotherapy and Radiation Oncology at the University Medical Center Göttingen in Germany. Besides a board certification as Radiation Oncologist, he completed a one-year scholarship by the “Else Kröner Fresenius Stiftung” to become a Clinician Scientist. Dr. Guhlich received a doctoral thesis award by the German Society of Radiation Oncology for his work analyzing risk loci for Radiotoxicity in Prostate Cancer. His main clinical interest and research currently focuses on urgent palliative approaches of modern radiotherapy, analyzing and aiming to improve the often-immediate benefits for this group of patients. Learn more about him here.

In Dr. Guhlich’s opinion, a reviewer should be objective and have in-depth knowledge within the specific area of research. Thus, she/he should have the ability to assist the authors in generating high-quality original articles. This can be achieved by finding hardly understandable text passages, possibly wrongly interpreted data as well as in suggesting potentially missing literature for discussion.

Dr. Guhlich reckons that total exclusion of biases is almost impossible. Therefore, he believes it is of importance to blind the manuscript for the reviewer wherever possible. For the reviewer, it is important to be open about potential conflicts of interest.

Lastly, Dr. Guhlich thinks that it is of utmost importance to apply for institutional review board (IRB) approval, primarily for respecting the patients’ rights. There is also a relevance in protecting the researcher.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)