Reviewer of the Month (2023)

Posted On 2023-09-26 16:18:04

In 2023, APC 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.

May, 2023
Irfana Muqbil, Lawrence Tech University, USA

July, 2023
Leticia Estefania Campoverde, Jackson Memorial Hospital, USA

December, 2023
Preethi Chandrasekaran, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, USA

May, 2023

Irfana Muqbil

Dr. Irfana Muqbil is Assistant Professor of Biochemistry in the Department of Natural Sciences at Lawrence Technological University in Michigan, USA. She is a cancer researcher by training and her previous work was centred on targeting pathways for treating malignancies particularly in pancreatic cancer and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She worked on testing novel drugs that can block cancer promoting proteins through the inhibition of nuclear transport protein XPO1 which is found to be over-expressed in many cancers including pancreatic cancer. Her work led to substantial and meaningful progress towards developing some improved clinical modalities for patient care. Her current research focuses on cancer associated cachexia, identifying, and targeting circulatory biomarkers associated with the disease. Learn more about Dr. Muqbil here.

Peer review is, from Dr. Muqbil’s point of view, needed to strengthen the quality of science. In the era when there is so much information being published at various platforms, identifying the correct scientific data that are of high quality and rigorously performed is needed. Peer review is a step to filter the best quality articles that when published can withstand the test of time. Peer review ensures that the science is valid, reproducible, and meaningful. Peer reviewer, in turn, should be unbiased, honest and willing to provide constructive feedback to the authors. There should be objectivity in reviewers’ approach when judging a paper. The reviewer should consider their comments based on the contents that they are reviewing. Peer reviewers should be cognizant of conflicts of interest and willing to give up reviewing if even the remotest chance of conflicts may emerge during the review process.

Dr. Muqbil sees peer review as a part of the overall academic development. Serving as a peer reviewer is considered as scholarly service and helps in academic promotions. Handling manuscripts allows the reviewer to gain knowledge in cutting edge emerging science and also helps in learning new topics.

Finally, on the topic of the disclosure of Conflicts of Interest (COI), Dr. Muqbil thinks authors should disclose the COI immediately as soon as it occurs, as it would bring bias and can influence the research.

(by Masaki Lo, Wymen Chen)

July, 2023

Leticia Estefania Campoverde

Dr. Leticia Estefania Campoverde is a third-year internal medicine resident at Jackson Memorial Hospital-University of Miami and a candidate for the Hematology Oncology fellowship. Born and raised in Ecuador, she graduated from the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and was a research fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Center while receiving training in Principles and Practices of Clinical Research at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She has been involved in clinical research in sarcoma, cancer-associated thrombosis, and breast cancer. In 2023, she received the Conquer Cancer Merit Award for high-quality abstracts for her project titled Correlation between Oncotype DX, Predict, and Nottingham Prognostic Index in HR+, HER2- early breast cancer treatment. Her current interests are centered around malignant hematology and Bone Marrow Transplantation, with a keen focus on addressing disparities in cancer genetic testing. Learn more about her on ResearchGate.

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

Dr. Campoverde: Peer review is a crucial component of the scientific process. It serves as a quality control mechanism by which experts in a particular field evaluate the validity, rigor, and significance of research before it is published. Peer review ensures that research meets certain standards of accuracy and reliability, helping to filter out unreliable studies. It also provides constructive feedback for authors to improve their work. In essence, peer review is indispensable for maintaining the integrity of scientific literature and advancing our understanding of the world.

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

Dr. Campoverde: The existing peer-review system has several limitations, including potential bias, lack of transparency, and delays in the publication process. Reviewers might inadvertently introduce their own viewpoints, and conflicts of interest (COIs) can arise. To improve the system, we can consider implementing more transparent review processes, such as open peer review, where reviewer identities and comments are made public. Training reviewers and promoting diversity among them can also enhance the quality of peer review.

APC: 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. Campoverde: Thanks to all the dedicated reviewers who work tirelessly to advance scientific progress. Your efforts are often behind the scenes, but they are essential to the integrity and reliability of scientific research. Your constructive feedback, expertise, and commitment to upholding rigorous standards are what make the scientific community thrive. Please remember that your contributions are instrumental in shaping the trajectory of knowledge and enhancing the well-being of people worldwide.

APC: Is it important for authors to disclose COI? To what extent would a COI influence a research?

Dr. Campoverde: Absolutely, it is of paramount importance for authors to disclose any potential COI when submitting their research. A COI could arise from financial interests, personal relationships, or any other situation where an author's objectivity might be compromised. Transparently disclosing these conflicts is essential because they can substantially affect the research, including its methodology, interpretation of results, and conclusions. Failing to reveal such conflicts can diminish trust in the research and compromise its reliability. Reviewers and readers require this information to evaluate potential biases or vested interests that may influence the study's outcomes. Full disclosure constitutes a fundamental element of ethical research and publication standards.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

December, 2023

Preethi Chandrasekaran

Dr. Preethi Chandrasekaran is currently a research staff member and lab manager at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Prior to this, she was a faculty member at the University of North Texas. Preethi completed her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at Government Kilpauk Medical College, India. She then went on to earn her Master’s degree in microbiology and Immunology from Northern Illinois University. At present, she is a part of the editorial board in several journals. Currently, her research focuses on pathways of biosynthetic metabolism in the context of fatty liver, Diabetes, Atherosclerosis, lipids, and Neurological disorders. In addition, she is immensely involved in biochemical and structural aspects of G-protein coupled receptors such as Orexin and Cannabinoid receptors using NMR, Cryo EM and X-ray Crystallography to identify potential drug targets for dyslipidaemia and sleep disorders. learn more about here.

In Preethi’s opinion, a constructive review usually equals to providing valuable suggestions to strengthen the manuscript and consequently improve the journal as well. It is thorough, well presented in a diplomatic style considering the impact of the paper in the field and to the scientific community. It should be detailed and clear. An incomplete review done by people with less knowledge in the field can be destructive to the scientific community and the journal.

While reviewing papers, Preethi believes that reviewers should consider the impact of the work to the scientific community, novelty, credibility of the data, whether the work will attract readers and will improve the impact factor and cite score of the journal.

Finally, from a reviewer’s perspective, Preethi thinks that it is extremely important to follow reporting guidelines to ensure consistency and structured submissions.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)