In 2022, TP 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.
Maciej Słodki, Mazovian State University, Poland
Han C. G. Kemper, Amsterdam Academic Medical Center, The Netherlands
Michael W. Mather, Newcastle University, the UK
María José Ariza, University of Málaga, Spain
Samuel Menahem, Monash University, Australia
Prof. Maciej Słodki is Rector of the Mazovian State University and Professor of Prenatal Cardiology in Polish Mother’s Memorial Hospital Research Institute in Lodz, Poland. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Prenatal Cardiology and Coordinator of the International Prenatal Cardiology Collaboration Group. His area of research is perinatology and prenatal cardiology. He is focusing on prenatally predicting the condition of newborn with congenital heart disease, especially the ones with critical CHDs, like d-TGA, HLHS. He is a propagator of establishing fetal cardiology as a separate subspecialty [read his article]. Privately, he is a happy husband, proud father of three children, and triathlete - ironman finisher. You may take a look at Prof. Słodki’s page or connect with him on Facebook.
“Second opinion is very important, because it allows to see the problem from another site, sometimes from more experienced scientist,” says Prof. Słodki when he is asked about the significance of the role of peer review. To him, a review would be constructive if it allows to improve the manuscript, sometimes to be better understandable or more convincing, eventually leading to the acceptance of the manuscript for publication in a journal. On the contrary, a review would be destructive if it disqualifies the manuscript for publication and only points the weak sites of the paper.
Speaking of the prevalent application of data sharing in scientific writing in recent years, Prof. Słodki believes that data sharing in the internet era is extremely important, as it allows to exchange data and results, which will ultimately lead to better conclusions.
“Peer reviewing is a very important part of a scientist job. There is time to write, and time to revise. In many cases, reviewers also can learn something from the revised paper,” says Prof. Słodki.
(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)
Han C. G. Kemper
Prof. Emeritus Dr. Han C. G. Kemper, Ph.D., D Hon Univ is a Pediatric Exercise Physiologist and Epidemiologist at the Amsterdam Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He is also the Dean of the Faculty of Human Movement Sciences at the University of Amsterdam and Vrije University in Amsterdam, the Head of the research group of the Amsterdam Growth And Health Longitudinal Study (AGAHLS), and Doctor Honoris Causa at the University of Surrey (UK), at the Semmelweiss University (Hungary) and at Riga Stradins University (Latvia). He received citation award of the American College of Sports Medicine in St. Louis USA. He is an editorial board member of Int J Sports Medicine, Int J Pediatric Exercise Science and Am j Human Biology.
To Dr. Kemper, peer review is important in science because it keeps scientific publications an independent source of information. One of the most important rules for peer reviewers is that only publications within their scope of experience shall be reviewed. He says, “My motivation to review is to help scientific publications to be understandable and bring science forward to a broader audience.”
(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)
Michael W. Mather
Dr. Michael William Mather is a clinical research fellow at Newcastle University and registrar in Ear, Nose, and Throat surgery in the United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS), the UK. He has a particular interest in disorders of hearing and balance. He is presently completing a PhD in upper airway immunology, with a specific focus on using single cell transcriptomics to better understand the role of the adenoids in glue ear. Dr. Mather has raised ~£500,000 in research grants and has contributed 26 peer-reviewed papers across otology and immunity. He has also co-authored the national ENT-UK guidelines on acute mastoiditis in children, and is the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) trainee lead for Otolaryngology across the North-East and Cumbria. Here is more information about Dr. Mather.
Peer review plays a critical role in science. The key facets of robust research include generating reliable, reproducible results and performing accurate and appropriate analysis. To Dr. Mather, reviewers are essential in assessing these features, as well as assisting with the interpretation and readability of manuscripts to ensure they move the field forwards in a trustworthy way.
Dr. Mather moves on to share his views on what he believes is a constructive review. To him, a review that is constructive has to be balanced. It must highlight features of the work which require improvement or clarification to ensure only robust and accurate results are presented, whilst also shining a light on and acknowledging the ingenuity and importance of robust findings which move the field forward.
Without a doubt, disclosure of Conflicts of Interests (COIs) is absolutely critical. In Dr. Mather’s opinion, whilst commercial funding, for example, can facilitate research (indeed, sometimes will be essential), any work must be performed in a transparent manner and conflicts declared appropriately to ensure any influence from potential conflicts can be identified and the impact of this assessed.
“Peer review is a challenging task! I think everyone in science owes a great debt to each other for the tireless contributions we all make to each other’s work, to ensure only the best science is accepted for publication,” says Dr. Mather.
(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)
María José Ariza
Dr. María José Ariza, PhD, carries out her scientific work in the Lipids and Arteriosclerosis Laboratory at the “Centro de Investigaciones Médico-Sanitarias” (CIMES) at the University of Málaga, Spain. She is a biologist, senior researcher of the "Arteriosclerosis, Cardiovascular Prevention, Metabolism and Neurological Diseases” group of the Málaga Biomedical Research Institute (IBIMA) and she is co-chair of the scientific committee of the Spanish Atherosclerosis Society. Her investigations focus on the genetic susceptibility to hypertriglyceridaemia (HTG). Currently, she is leading an Innovation Project from the Andalusian Government that aims at performing next generation sequencing in cases with severe HTG to identify cases with Familial Chylomicronemia Syndrome. She is also the principal investigator of a project funded by the Spanish Arteriosclerosis Society that aims at the clinical, biochemical and genetic characterization of patients with extreme hyperalphalipoproteinemia. She also participates in projects related to the genetic bases of vascular dementia and Pseudoxanthoma Elasticum.
Dr. Ariza believes that peer review is essential in science because it allows criticism and discussion of results, from multidisciplinary points of view. This way, all scientists involved –authors and reviewers- learn from each other and the global quality of manuscripts improve substantially.
In Dr. Ariza’s view, the goal of a review is to help authors improve the accuracy of the technical and scientific aspects of their article, pointing at those that need to be clarified but also highlighting the strengths of the data reviewed. She considers also important to provide suggestions to make the reading easy, attractive and understandable for potential readers, even those who are not specialized, but may eventually be interested in a particular topic.
As a reviewer, Dr. Ariza stresses that it is important for authors to share their research data. Data sharing can contribute to science transparency and can be seen as a tool to ensure data traceability. Additionally, it can promote results exchange and discussion among scientists that may allow drawing new conclusions.
“I take the peer-review work as a need and a responsibility. I only accept a review request within my field of expertise to make sure that I can provide accurate comments on every section of the manuscript. In this context, I can estimate the time and effort that it involves,” says Dr. Ariza.
(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)
Prof. Samuel Menahem, MB BS MD MEd (Melb) MPM DMedHSc (Mon) FRACP FACC FCSANZ, is a Professor to the Department of Paediatrics and School of Clinical Science, Monash University and a Professorial Associate to the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, University of Melbourne, Australia. He is a Consultant Paediatrician with extensive experience in General Paediatrics and Neonatology and a subspecialty of Paediatric Cardiology extending from the foetus to the adult with congenital heart disease. He has held Consultant and Unit Head appointments at the Royal Children’s Hospital and Monash Medical Centre, Melbourne. Prof. Menahem has an illustrious academic career. He continues to teach and mentor students and graduates, remains active in clinical research and has published widely. He has also been a Visiting Professor and/or Examiner overseas. He currently works mostly in consultant practice. Many of his patients have stayed with him since infancy into adult life. Learn more about Prof. Menahem here.
TP: What role does peer review play in science?
Prof. Menahem: Peer review adds an independent dimension and critical dissection of any work being considered for publication within the scientific literature. The process is further aided by the selection of reviewers whose only concern should be the advancement of the knowledge and practice that is being discussed within the paper, with the hope that it will ultimately improve clinical outcomes.
TP: What do you consider as an objective review? How do you make sure your review is objective?
Prof. Menahem: Reviewers need to recuse themselves if there is any conflict of interest. The review needs to be based on what is presented within the individual paper rather than what the reviewers themselves feel the conclusions should be. In addition, reviewers should decline an invitation if they are not knowledgeable enough about the subject being studied. Abiding by these simple rules helps ensure that one’s review is as objective as possible.
TP: Why is it important for a research to apply for institutional review board (IRB) approval? What would happen if this process is omitted?
Prof. Menahem: IRBs have an important task to ensure that no harm comes to any patient or participant recruited to a study. In addition, it would be important to ensure that the investigators abide by the well-enunciated ethical standards required of any laboratory or clinical research. In one of my lectures, I frequently quote a paper where as part of a study into so-called “infant colic”, babies were subjected to a barium enema. While it confirmed that such babies have a brisk gastrocolic reflex and a more rapid bowel passage time, no mention was made that the procedure was invasive and also involved radiation. The studies were carried out on essentially normal infants. Such studies by careful vetting of the protocols will allow them to be excluded by appropriately constituted IRBs.
TP: Peer reviewing is often anonymous and non-profitable, what motivates you to do so?
Prof. Menahem: Reviewers may learn much from the opportunity to study new work. Some papers are just outstanding with little that need to be added to improve them. Others may require more work to make them suitable for publication. Having personally experienced the considerable work required and the multiple difficulties associated with getting a paper ready for submission and finally getting it published after dealing with the reviewers’ comments makes one mindful of providing constructive advice. That is especially important for the young researchers submitting papers early in their career, rather than to summarily dismiss the paper if the initial work is not up to the expected standard. Bringing a broad perspective to the task at hand with a clinical perspective, often allows one to suggest how a particular piece of work may be realigned so as to provide useful information and possibly improve outcomes.
(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)