Reviewer of the Month (2022)

Posted On 2022-06-10 17:48:33

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.

January, 2022
Maciej Słodki, Mazovian State University, Poland

March, 2022
Han C. G. Kemper, Amsterdam Academic Medical Center, The Netherlands
Michael W. Mather, Newcastle University, the UK

May, 2022
Christina Signorelli, UNSW Medicine & Health, Australia

June, 2022
María José Ariza, University of Málaga, Spain  

August, 2022
Luc P Brion, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW), USA

September, 2022
Samuel Menahem, Monash University, Australia 

October, 2022
Yunkoo Kang, Wonju Severance Christian Hospital, South Korea

December, 2022
Karim Hamesch, RWTH Aachen University Hospital, Germany 

January, 2022

Maciej Slodki

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)

March, 2022

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)

May, 2022

Christina Signorelli

Dr. Signorelli is a Behavioural Scientist and a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Discipline of Paediatrics, School of Clinical Medicine, UNSW Medicine & Health, Australia. She has a PhD in Medicine (Paediatrics, UNSW Sydney), a Masters of Qualitative Health Research (University of Sydney), and a combined Bachelor Science (Psychology) and Arts (Sociology, University of Sydney). Dr. Signorelli’s research interests focus on understanding the physical and psychosocial impact of being diagnosed with a serious or chronic illness in childhood such as cancer, and developing evidence-based resources and interventions to alleviate their potentially lifelong burden on the patient and their families. Connect with Dr. Signorelli on LinkedIn @ChrisSigno, and learn more about her research on this homepage.

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

Dr. Signorelli: In my opinion, there are many aspects that contribute to a healthy peer-review system including trained and expert reviewers, confidentiality, constructive feedback, timely reviews, and an overall transparent process. This system relies on the contribution of experienced and knowledgeable reviewers who accept reviews only on papers for which they can genuinely assess based on their expertise, and that they can also communicate when other experts may need to be drawn in to assess certain elements (e.g. highly specialized methods). I was fortunate to be mentored by supervisors and peers and given opportunities to review with their guidance and input very early in my academic career. Ideally though, reviewers should receive training to understand the purpose of peer review and what makes a ‘good’ review. Editorial oversight is absolutely critical in this process to select appropriate reviewers, collate and appraise reviewer’s recommendations – including judging when a reviewer has not made a legitimate attempt at a thorough review – and to ensure a fair and rigorous process. Overall, a robust peer-review system is essential for maintaining the quality, reliability, and ethical standards of medical research. It serves as a critical gatekeeper in ensuring that only high-quality and ethically conducted research is disseminated to the scientific community and the public.

TP: What are the qualities a reviewer should possess?

Dr. Signorelli: As I’ve already touched upon, a reviewer should have the necessary expertise on the subject matter and/or methodology of the manuscript that they are being invited to review, in order to accurately assess its contribution and quality. In some cases, it may also mean acknowledging when you have some, but not all, of the necessary expertise, so that the Editorial team can bring together the right team of reviewers to cover all bases as needed, especially for highly specialized or niche areas of research. Reviewers should also remain objective throughout the process and maintain confidentiality about the research they assess. A good reviewer should have excellent analytical skills, attention to detail, diligence, and communication skills in order to critically assess all aspects of the manuscript and make clear and constructive feedback that will genuinely enhance the manuscript. In order to achieve this, I believe that being open-minded is an incredibly important quality of a reviewer – they should be open to unique approaches and perspectives, which may often be different to their own. Ideally, reviewers should also be able to identify any potential ethical violations (e.g., plagiarism, conflicts of interest, or inadequate informed consent). Finally, being on the receiving end of (often multiple!) reviewer reports can be daunting – reviewers should present both strengths and weaknesses in their written feedback, whilst maintaining professionalism and being respectful of the author/s and their work.

TP: Why do you choose to review for TP?

Dr. Signorelli: Broadly speaking, peer reviewing is a critical process that helps maintain the rigor and quality of scientific research, with many benefits to scientific community and to reviewers. Personally, I take pride in being able to contribute to improving the integrity and quality of scientific research in the field, whilst also leveraging my review experiences to reflect on and continually improve my own work. Translational Pediatrics is an open-access journal which attracts contributions from diverse fields (e.g., health services, nutrition, genetics, nursing) to advance pediatric research and better the health and wellbeing young children and adolescents. I value that TP has a transparent review process and a genuine commitment to an open, high quality, and continually improving review process.

TP: Why is it important for a research to apply for institutional review board (IRB) approval? What would happen if this process is omitted?

Dr. Signorelli: The role of the IRB or ethics review board is to ensure that all research performed at an institution adheres to the principles of medical ethics. This helps to protect participants from unwarranted risks and ensure that the appropriate measures are in place to mitigate and manage foreseeable risks as efficiently and effectively as possible. Overall, the IRB serves as a critical safeguard for the welfare of research participants and the integrity of the research process including both scientific and ethical aspects. Upon initial review of any given project, this covers aspects legal compliance, balancing associated benefits and risks, the informed consent process, appropriateness of study design and methodology, non-biased and non-discriminatory recruitment, and data security among other aspects. In addition, the IRB is responsible for ongoing monitoring throughout the life of the project. Together, these ensure that research is conducted responsibly, ethically, and in accordance with established standards and regulations.

As a member of our local ethics committee, I witness firsthand how the Board works with investigators to enhance the scientific and ethical rigor of any given project, in order to maximize safe and ethical practices. If this process is omitted, it can have far-reaching negative consequences for research, ethics, legal compliance, institutional reputation, and first and foremost for patient safety. It is critical that researchers priorities adhering to the IRB process and take the scientific and ethical considerations that arise seriously as this ultimately ensures the responsible and ethical conduct of research involving human subjects and resulting output which is of the highest scientific quality.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

June, 2022

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)

August, 2022

Luc P Brion

Dr. Luc P. Brion is Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW), Dallas, TX, USA. As Faculty at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York (1986-2006), he was funded for years for basic sciences research in developmental nephrology. Dr. Brion was Director of the Fellowship Training Program in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine in 1997-2006. He is now Faculty at UTSW, where he was Director of the Fellowship Training Program in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine in 2007-2019. He was the UTSW alternate principal investigator for the NICHD Eunice Kennedy Shriver Cooperative Multicenter Neonatal Research Network from 2009 until 2023. Dr. Brion's current research interests include (1) improving nutrition and growth to optimize neurodevelopment and to reduce signs suggestive of metabolic syndrome in high-risk preterm infants, (2) necrotizing enterocolitis and (3) using evidence-based medicine to improve morbidity and mortality in neonates. Connect with Dr. Brion on Twitter and LinkedIn, and learn more about his work on ResearchGate.

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

Dr. Brion: This process greatly helps increase the quality of the final product and thus helps authors and journals. It is much easier for a reviewer than for the authors themselves to highlight strengths, weaknesses and potential areas for improvement in a manuscript. Internal reviewers, external reviewers and editors often highlight issues that authors may have missed. I personally always seek internal review from colleagues before submitting any abstracts, manuscripts, or grant applications.

TP: What do you regard as a constructive/destructive review?

Dr. Brion: The main goal of a constructive review is to help the authors improve the quality of the final product. The reviewer may provide additional important relevant publications, highlight what new information the manuscript will bring to the literature, highlight limitations and strengths, help clarify specific sections of the documents, adjust the research design or strategy to minimize bias, improve statistical approaches, adjust the conclusions so that they better match the results and help meet requirements for the journal. The reviewers may recommend a major revision with a better hypothesis based on the literature, a better design, adequate sample size based on the primary outcome, or improved entry/exclusion criteria and/or statistical approaches. A destructive review would only provide criticism without any suggestion on how to improve the quality of the final product.

TP: Peer reviewing is often anonymous and non-profitable, what motivates you to do so?

Dr. Brion: I always learn a lot from reading and reviewing manuscripts. I develop a much broader knowledge of the literature. The process of comparing my reviews with those from other reviewers and with the final decision by the editors helps me improve the quality of future reviews. Finally, it helps me improve my ability to write my own manuscripts.

TP: Why is it important for a research to apply for institutional review board (IRB) approval? What would happen if this process is omitted?

Dr. Brion: The IRB assures compliance with ethical principles and with multiple regulations that help protect research subjects as well as the institution and the researchers. The IRB will assess risk/benefit ratio, may require modifications of the protocol or the consent form, may monitor adverse events and may perform site visits to assure or improve compliance with all regulations. Occasionally, the IRB will waive the requirement for written consent or waive the requirement of a formal IRB application (e.g., for quality improvement projects). The IRB decisions need to be included in the manuscript. This information may be helpful to other researchers. The history of medicine includes several investigations that had not been approved by an IRB and led to disastrous consequences. If the process of application is omitted, the authors may be unable to publish their research.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

September, 2022

Samuel Menahem

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)

October, 2022

Yunkoo Kang

Dr. Yunkoo Kang currently serves as an Assistant Professor at the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Department of Pediatrics, Wonju Severance Christian Hospital, Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine, Wonju, Korea. His research areas include NASH and glycogen storage disease.

Speaking of the anonymity of the peer-review system, Dr. Kang thinks it is indeed both an advantage and a disadvantage. Peer review can increase the credibility and reputation of work, but it also has problems such as delayed decisions, reviewer bias, plagiarism, and personal and professional caution. Nonetheless, it is most important for reviewers to have honesty and a sense of responsibility.

Even though peer reviewing is often anonymous and non-profitable, he is keen on doing so. He says, “I am reviewing manuscripts with the aspiration that it will be helpful to medical development.”

(By Brad Li, Lareina Lim)

December, 2022

Karim Hamesch

Dr. Karim Hamesch is a senior physician at the Clinic for Gastroenterology, Metabolic Diseases and Intensive Care at RWTH Aachen University Hospital in Germany. He studied medicine at RWTH Aachen University (Aachen, Germany), University College London (London, UK), and Brown University (Providence, RI, USA). He broadened his clinical experience at several hospitals outside of Germany such as Maastricht University Medical Center (Maastricht University; Maastricht, The Netherlands) and Brigham & Women’s Hospital (Harvard University; Boston, MA, USA). In 2021, he earned his “Venia Legendi” (German term: “Habilitation”) for his research on characterizing the liver phenotypes in alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency. He holds board certifications in internal medicine, gastroenterology and hepatology as well as intensive care medicine. Currently, he serves as the head physician in gastrointestinal endoscopy, gastrointestinal ultrasound, and inflammatory bowel diseases at the University Hospital Aachen. Connect with Dr. Hamesch on LinkedIn.

Dr. Hamesch reckons that peer review plays an indispensable role in the scientific community. It serves as a crucial quality control mechanism ensuring that publications meet certain standards of rigor, accuracy, and validity. He thinks that this “gatekeeping process” helps safeguard the integrity of knowledge and maintains public trust in research. Critical evaluation is pivotal for distinguishing credible research from unreliable studies. Moreover, peer review fosters a culture of continuous improvement. Thoughtful comments from reviewers provide authors with invaluable insights, helping them enhance the quality of their work and identify areas that warrant further investigation. In addition, he believes that peer review promotes accountability and transparency in the publication process. It holds authors to high standards of reporting and ethical conduct, discouraging selective reporting of results, methodological omissions, and biased conclusions.

In Dr. Hamesch’s mind, a thoughtful revision is a time-consuming commitment that is pro bono. Despite the importance of peer review, the dedication of individual reviewers sometimes remains underappreciated. At the same time, changing perspectives (being a reviewer instead of an author) is enriching and broadens one’s horizon. Maintaining a balance between being rigorous and fair, offering insights that challenge assumptions while recognizing the dedication authors invest in their work is challenging but should at the same time be the etiquette for the reviewing process. “With their constructive insights and critiques, reviewers elevate research quality, contribute to the advancement of knowledge and nurture a culture of excellence in the scientific community. Reviewers’ dedication behind the scenes remains indispensable in shaping the future of research discovery,” adds he.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)