Over the year, many PCM reviewers have made 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.
Giuseppe Barisano, University of Southern California, USA
Jonathan S. Kurman, Medical College of Wisconsin, USA
Alejandro Olivares-Hernández, University Hospital Complex of Salamanca, Spain
Dr. Giuseppe Barisano, M.D., Ph.D., is a physician-neuroscientist at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles (CA, USA). He obtained his medical degree with honors from San Raffaele University (Milan, Italy) and completed his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Southern California. His clinical interests include neuro-oncology, neurodegenerative disorders, and cerebrovascular diseases. During his Ph.D., he investigated the vascular contributions to neurodegeneration, with a focus on the role of perivascular spaces and blood-brain barrier damage. He studied and developed novel imaging approaches to investigate the cerebral vasculature using MRI in the context of physiological and pathological conditions. In his most recent work, he analyzed the changes occurring to cerebrospinal fluid and perivascular spaces of astronauts and cosmonauts after spaceflight. You may connect with Dr. Barisano on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Peer review is critical for academic research because it allows not only to evaluate the significance and impact of a scientific work by experts in the field, but also to ensure that the technical aspects of the assessed project are valid, and the language and conclusions are appropriate and supported by the data presented. In numerous occasions, Dr. Barisano has noted that the suggestions provided by the reviewers contribute to significant improvement of the quality of the research articles.
In order to minimize any potential biases when evaluating a scientific work, Dr. Barisano provides his comments and suggestions only based on the scientific article itself and his knowledge, without considering who the authors are and what they previously published. He also tries to put himself on the shoes of the authors and give feedback to help them reach the objectives of their research study.
In Dr. Barisano’s opinion, data sharing is nowadays very important and should be considered to be mandatory for publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals. This would allow not only to strengthen the credibility and reproducibility of science, but also to facilitate future research efforts and to ensure a better and optimized use of the available resources. In fact, many scientists and researchers would benefit by using data previously published to pursue their own research ideas and goals. This is becoming a more and more common practice in certain fields, such as neuroimaging and molecular biology, with many datasets that are publicly accessible.
“My passion and personal interest for science let me find the time to do peer review during my non-working hours. Knowing that many other scientists will probably do the same when evaluating my research projects is an additional motivation for peer reviewing and for doing it in the most objective and professional way,” says Dr. Barisano.
(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)
Jonathan S. Kurman
Dr. Jonathan S. Kurman, MD, MBA, FCCP, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and the Director of Interventional Pulmonology at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, WI, USA. He completed an interventional pulmonology fellowship at the University of Chicago and pulmonary & critical care training at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonology, critical care, and interventional pulmonology. His interests are in diagnostic and therapeutic bronchoscopy, including airway stents, navigational bronchoscopy, endobronchial valves, photodynamic therapy, and bronchoscopy education. He has published several articles on management of persistent air leaks, endobronchial valves, and bronchoscopy education. You may learn more about Dr. Kurman via his homepage or LinkedIn.
A healthy peer-review system, in Dr. Kurman’s view, is one that does as much as possible to ensure a fair and balanced critique of submitted work. Although a double-blind system is the gold standard, this is not necessarily required to achieve an objective assessment. Having a large pool of reviewers with diverse backgrounds and interest is a core component of a healthy peer-review system. This will help ensure impartiality during the review process. Finally, honesty among reviewers is paramount. If there is a conflict of interest, reviewers must recuse themselves.
While reviewing manuscripts, Dr. Kurman firmly believes that reviewers must bear in mind their duty to the journal and its readership. Maintaining objectivity during the assessment process is crucial to ensuring high-quality material is accepted, while lower-quality work is redirected elsewhere. Reviewers must remember that not all authors share the same perspectives. Being open-minded will allow reviewers to have a balanced approach during the review process.
From a reviewer’s perspective, Dr. Kurman thinks that reporting guidelines (e.g. ARRIVE and TREND) are crucial when preparing manuscripts. This allows for standardization across studies, which will ultimately facilitate larger studies and meta-analyses. This will also ensure readers have a consistent framework in which to interpret data and conclusions.
“Peer reviewing has several benefits. First, it helps develop critical thinking skills. By analyzing the work of others, you are forced to develop analytical assessment skills. Second, it inevitably makes the reviewer a better author. Exposure to different writing styles and topics will inevitably make you a more well-rounded author. Third, it is looked favorably upon during the academic promotion process. Being a reviewer and a writer are key components of academic medicine,” says Dr. Kurman.
(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)
Dr. Alejandro Olivares-Hernández, M.D, Ph.D., is a specialist in Medical Oncology at the University Hospital Complex of Salamanca, Spain and researcher at the Biomedical Research Institute of Salamanca (IBSAL). He has obtained his medical degree and Ph.D. at the University of Salamanca. In addition, he has completed his training in oncology with several international degrees, mainly the Master in Molecular Oncology by the Rey Juan Carlos University and an Expert Degree in Immuno-Oncology by the University of Navarra. Dr. Olivares-Hernández has focused his specialisation on the development of Immuno-Oncology, mainly within non-small cell lung cancer. His latest work has focused on the development of different biomarkers that predict response to immunotherapy, essentially in the field of genomics. In addition, he also has other work focused on other biomarkers in immunotherapy such as the microbiome. Find out more about Dr. Olivares-Hernández on ResearchGate and connect with him on Twitter.
PCM: What do you regard as a constructive review?
Dr. Olivares-Hernández: From my point of view, a review should be composed of all those aspects that make an article different and attractive to the scientific community. A constructive review should not only consist of the analysis of the results or the discussion but should also go beyond that by considering all formal or methodological aspects. In many cases, articles need a new holistic view of the whole manuscript and not just a destructive critique that does not bring a new face to the article. The reviewer's goal should be to correct the article's shortcomings and not simply to criticise a work that in most cases requires a great deal of effort.
PCM: Peer reviewing is often anonymous and non-profitable, what motivates you to do so?
Dr. Olivares-Hernández: The work of a reviewer is in my opinion a moral obligation within the scientific community. Reviewing articles is certainly not a paid or recognised job. However, all researchers want to publish their work with the highest possible quality, and this would not be possible without the work of reviewers behind the scenes. Being a reviewer is more than accepting or rejecting an article, it is about improving a paper so that we can all enjoy it. In my case, as an MD, this takes on enormous importance because many decisions in clinical practice depend on these papers, and therefore, being part of the review of articles I consider an ethical obligation that allows you to grow as a professional.
PCM: Why do you choose to review for PCM?
Dr. Olivares-Hernández: PCM is a journal with a very high potential that has recently been developing a very attractive editorial line. In recent months, there have been several publications which have greatly increased the quality of the journal, and there is no doubt that in the coming years it will have a progressively growing impact. In addition, the facilities provided by PCM and the AME Publishing Company to be able to work as a reviewer is undoubtedly another of the attractions of working with the journal.
PCM: From a reviewer’s perspective, do you think it is important for authors to follow reporting guidelines (e.g. STROBE, PRISMA and CARE) during preparation of their manuscripts?
Dr. Olivares-Hernández: It is essential to follow the guidelines for a quality manuscript. Complying with a series of standardised criteria allows all researchers worldwide to obey common objectives that lead to a higher quality of publications. Therefore, an article without the consequent guideline is an incomplete article and it would be difficult to assess it for publication in the journal. It is essential that all reviewers are aware of the importance of this point for a correct review.
(Brad Li is the main author; Yi Tang, an intern of AME, helped proofread this interview)