Reviewer of the Month (2023)

Posted On 2023-09-04 11:08:49

Over the year, many ACR 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.

February, 2023
Haruto Nishida, Oita University, Japan

June, 2023
Ming Lau, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong, China

July, 2023
Hirotaka Suto, The Cancer Institute Hospital of Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, Japan

August, 2023
Yasuaki Tomioka, Fukuyama City Hospital, Japan

October, 2023
Ka Pang Chan, Prince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong, China

November, 2023
Akihiko Oka, Shimane University Hospital, Japan

December, 2023
Lucas Alves da Mota Santana, Federal University of Sergipe, Brazil
Nir Messer, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, USA

February, 2023

Haruto Nishida

Dr. Haruto Nishida graduated from Oita University School of Medicine in Japan and earned a Ph.D. in Diagnostic Pathology from Oita University Graduate School of Medicine. Currently, he works in the Diagnostic Pathology Department at the Faculty of Medicine at Oita University. As a general pathologist, he specializes in diagnosing various organs, such as skin, stomach, lung, uterine cervix, brain, and so on. He has specialized in dermatopathology and regularly presents at international conferences, such as ASDP and USCAP. His research focuses on tumorigenesis and the tumor microenvironment. Recently, he authored a paper on cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, which discusses the genetic alterations involved in tumorigenesis and the possibility of location-specific treatment for arising SCC (PLoS One. 2023;18(2):e0281647). Currently, he collaborates with various partners, including digestive system and thoracic surgeons, biology doctors and dermatologists, among others.

Peer review, in Dr. Nishida’s opinion, plays a crucial role in the field of science. It holds a significant position in the process of scientific research and publication. Quality assurance is one of its primary responsibilities. To him, reviewers should provide constructive critiques of the paper, rather than criticism, and suggest ways on how it could be improved. To fully understand and disseminate new scientific concepts, it is crucial for reviewers to have a thorough understanding of the paper.

I am motivated to do peer review as I am constantly inspired by doing so, and I want to reveal more deep knowledge, so I will continue studying based on curiosity,” says Dr. Nishida.

(by Brad Li, Alisa Lu)

June, 2023

Ming Lau

Dr. Ming Lau graduated from the University of Hong Kong and received training in Cardiothoracic Surgery in Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and a member of various local and international societies, including European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery and Society of Thoracic Surgeons. He is also a regular reviewer of international peer-reviewed journals.

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

Dr. Lau: In a healthy peer-review system, timeliness is critical to avoid unnecessary delays in the publication process. Reviews should be based on objective aspects of the manuscript (such as data and methods) and less on subjective judgements. Peer reviewers would benefit authors, editors and journals by providing useful guidance and making recommendations regarding publication decisions. In return, the peer reviewers would also gain from learning the latest developments in their fields and improving their skills in critical appraisal and scientific writing.

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

Dr. Lau: Peer reviewers should emphasize on the science and methodology instead of grammar and style. One should give specific comments about the manuscript’s scientific merit, point out significant flaws, and comment on the importance of the work. The reviewer should also make a recommendation regarding the publication decision. There is a moral obligation to give back to the professional and scientific community.

ACR: Why do you choose to review for AME Case Reports (ACR)?

Dr. Lau: ACR is an open access, peer-reviewed online journal of case reports in all medical disciplines. It provides a platform for medical professionals to share clinical knowledge on both common and rare cases. I hope to benefit from reviewing manuscripts for ACR in terms of acquiring new medical knowledge and scientific writing skills.

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

Dr. Lau: Peer review can work extremely well to improve the quality of published research. Despite potential problems with peer-review system, the clear benefits of receiving detailed, constructive feedback are obvious. Becoming a peer reviewer involved in the journals’ community can boost your career and help maintain the integrity of scientific literature.

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

Dr. Lau: Publication is impossible without a full written disclosure of COI. Having a competing interest does not imply wrongdoing but it can undermine the credibility of research and damage the integrity of the journal.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

July, 2023

Hirotaka Suto

Dr. Hirotaka Suto works at the department of Medical Oncology, at The Cancer Institute Hospital of Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, Tokyo, Japan. He graduated from the Nara Medical University School of Medicine, Nara, Japan and achieved his Ph.D. in Medical Oncology / Hematology at Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine, Kobe, Japan. His research areas focus on geriatric oncology, head and neck cancer and soft tissue sarcoma.

Speaking of the roles of peer review in science, Dr. Suto thinks peer review can improve the quality of papers by assessing their novelty and limitations from a bird's eye view and bring clearer insights to potential readers. Through peer review, he thinks the reviewers can also have the opportunity to brush up their own knowledge in their field of research and accelerate their own research in the field. He further shares, “The papers we have reviewed and published should provide new insights for other researchers. We should review papers for scientific validity and evaluate their novelty and limitations without prejudice. We should then provide constructive comments to move the research forward.”

In recent years, data sharing is prevalent in scientific writing. Dr. Suto personally supports the idea as the sharing of original data by different researchers not only ensures the reproducibility and validity of the research based on the data but also leads to new collaborations that are more extensive and meaningful.

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

August, 2023

Yasuaki Tomioka

Dr. Yasuaki Tomioka works as a thoracic surgeon at the Department of Thoracic Surgery, Fukuyama City Hospital, Hiroshima, Japan. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of General Thoracic Surgery and Breast and Endocrine Surgery, Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine. His main research interest is lung transplantation. However, in his clinical practice, he specializes in a variety of procedures and treatments, including minimally invasive surgeries such as VATS and RATS, extensive surgeries, and the treatment of diseases such as lung cancer, mediastinal tumors, and thoracic trauma. Connect with Dr. Tomioka on X @YasuakiTomioka.

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

Dr. Tomioka: Peer review is an essential part of the scientific publishing process because it ensures the quality, validity, and relevance of research before it is disseminated to the broader community. The process involves independent experts in the field evaluating a manuscript to determine its scientific rigor, originality, and contribution to the field. This not only helps maintain the integrity of the scientific literature, but also provides authors with feedback to improve their work. Without peer review, there would be no standardized mechanism to filter out potentially flawed or misleading research that could jeopardize the advancement of knowledge.

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

Dr. Tomioka: Reviewers play a critical role in the peer-review process and should approach their task with objectivity, fairness, and thoroughness. Some key points that reviewers should keep in mind are:

  • Impartiality: Reviewers should evaluate a manuscript based on its scientific merit without bias or personal interest.
  • Confidentiality: Details of the manuscript should not be disclosed to others without proper authorization.
  • Thoroughness: Reviewers should carefully evaluate the methodology, results, and conclusions to ensure that the research is sound and the conclusions are supported by the data.
  • Constructive feedback: Reviewers should provide constructive feedback to help authors improve their work, while pointing out deficiencies or areas for improvement.
  • Timeliness: Reviewers should complete their evaluations within the specified time frame to ensure the smooth progress of the publication process.

ACR: 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. Tomioka: To all the dedicated reviewers out there, your dedication and expertise are invaluable to the scientific community. Your meticulous evaluations not only maintain the quality of published research, but also guide authors in refining their submissions. While your efforts often go unnoticed, they help shape the course of scientific discovery. Thank you for your tireless efforts and for being the unsung heroes of scientific progress!

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

Dr. Tomioka: Yes, data sharing is becoming increasingly important in the scientific community. There are several benefits to share research data:

  • Transparency and reproducibility: By making data available, other researchers can validate and reproduce the results, thereby strengthening the credibility of the research.
  • Collaboration: Shared data can foster collaboration among researchers, leading to new insights and discoveries.
  • Maximize impact: Data that are openly accessible can be used by others to build on them, leading to further advances in the field.
  • Resource efficiency: Rather than duplicating efforts, researchers can leverage existing datasets for new analyses.
  • Public trust: Data sharing can increase public trust in scientific research by demonstrating openness and accountability.
In summary, data sharing not only promotes transparency and collaboration, but also accelerates the pace of scientific discovery.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

October, 2023

Ka Pang Chan

Dr. Ken Ka Pang Chan is a respiratory specialist with an interest in pleural medicine. He received general respiratory training at Prince of Wales Hospital and further sub-specialised training in pleural medicine at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Australia. Dr. Chan currently leads a number of projects on malignant pleural effusion and pleural infection. He has received several grants for developing new diagnostic strategies in various types of pleural effusions and studying the burden of pleural diseases in Hong Kong. Through these researches, he endeavors to optimize patient outcomes by improving the standard of clinical care and promoting the public understanding of these diseases.

In Dr. Chan’s opinion, a reviewer should have a strong scientific background of the papers being referred to, and be familiar with the pros and cons of different study designs. A reviewer should be critical in the reviewing process, yet be neutral while receiving evidence against the reviewer’s usual practice.

Since biases are inevitable in peer review, to minimize any potential biases during review, Dr. Chan indicates that a good reviewer should be open-minded to new evidence with a strong scientific basis. As different schools of thought are common in the world of research, it is a good practice to blind the reviewer from knowing the author’s profile. Declining a request for peer review may sometimes be needed. As the reviewing process simulates a conversation between the reviewers and the authors, asking questions for major queries is a good practice, which can help a better understanding of the manuscript. He believes that including several reviewers in the review process, which most journals are currently practicing, can minimize the effect of bias.

It is often a difficult task to review a study with new technology or advanced statistics. However, it is a learning process, and that may inspire our research. More importantly, the role of a reviewer is not only accepting or rejecting a manuscript. The experience of a reviewer can help to bring the manuscript to a higher level of scientific value and improve the understanding of the studied subject,” says Dr. Chan.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

November, 2023

Akihiko Oka

Dr. Akihiko Oka is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, Shimane University, and a Ward Medical Director of the Gastroenterology and Hematology division, Shimane University Hospital, Japan. He earned his MD degree in 2003 and obtained his PhD degree from Shimane University in 2014. He developed a special interest in the relationship between intestinal disease and the microbiome during a 5-year research fellowship (2015 to 2020) at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA under the instruction of Professor R. Balfour Sartor, with funding from a Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation postdoctoral fellowship award. His ongoing research projects focus on the microbiome and mucosal immunity, intestinal permeability, and ultrasonography in intestinal diseases. Learn more about him here.

Dr. Oka thinks that the peer-review process can provide important input to authors as well as reviewers. While authors can improve their approach to research and their writing skills, reviewers can learn about the latest research findings and methodologies.

Speaking of the limitation of review system, Dr. Oka reckons that there are a variety of formats for articles and review systems, which may confuse authors/reviewers and lead to unnecessary delays in publication. He believes that it would be beneficial to follow a specific guideline (i.e., CARE2016) and to use AI-assisted formatting before peer review.

To avoid publication bias, Dr. Oka pays more attention to the methodology in the article. Even if the article shows a negative result, if the methods are sound, he always tries to recommend acceptance of the article.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

December, 2023

Lucas Alves da Mota Santana

Dr. Lucas Alves da Mota Santana graduated from the Federal University of Sergipe School of Dentistry in Brazil and earned a Master’s in Oral Medicine at the same institution. Currently, he works as an assistant professor at the Dentistry School of Tiradentes University, teaching classes in the disciplines of Oral Pathology, Basic Pathology and Stomatology. Additionally, he works as a researcher at the Federal University of Sergipe at the doctoral level. In general, he maintains a special interest in the study of emerging diseases in public health, with a focus on the main aspects involving pathologies of the head and neck region and the use of AI in dentistry and its potential applications in the diagnostics of malignant neoplasms, such as oral cancer. Currently, he collaborates as a reviewer for different national and international journals of interest to Dentistry, including Oral Diseases, Case Reports in Dentistry, Ear, Nose and Throat Journal, Brazilian Oral Research and International Journal of Surgery Case Reports.

Dr. Santana reckons that the review process is complex and requires the reviewer to possess an accurate and critical sense of responsibility for the content evaluated, along with the need for continuous monitoring of researchers regarding the main innovations and published works. Particularly, investing in the continued training of reviewers, e.g., through training courses and including several reviewers in the review process can reduce the risk of bias involved in the process.

From a reviewer’s perspective, Dr. Santana thinks that publication guidelines enable the standardization of scientific language, facilitating communication between authors and readers, as well as fostering debates among researchers. Besides, the application of these guidelines improve the reporting standards of several clinical studies, necessitating the implementation of policies by different editorial groups.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

Nir Messer

Dr. Nir Messer, MD, B.Sc, FACS, specializes in Abdominal Wall Reconstruction and Endocrine Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. His expertise lies in complex hernia repair and associated complications, diaphragmatic hernia repair, as well as neck and abdominal endocrine surgeries, particularly advanced abdominal neuroendocrine tumors. Dr. Messer's research is primarily centered around open and minimally invasive complex hernia repairs, gastrointestinal and adrenal endocrine tumors, liver metastases, and general surgery.

Dr. Messer indicates that peer review serves as a valuable avenue for providing considerate and constructive feedback, enhancing the quality of authors' manuscripts, and fostering the professional growth of research endeavors. It serves as a mechanism to ensure that research is rigorously evaluated, helping to overcome personal biases and offering constructive comments to improve the overall quality of the study.

A constructive review offers insightful feedback aimed at improving the quality and impact of the manuscript, according to Dr. Messer. It highlights strengths and weaknesses with specificity and provides suggestions for improvement. Importantly, alongside maintaining a high level of professionalism, the reviewer should embody qualities of modesty and objectivity, ensuring that personal perspectives do not unduly influence the report of the findings.

I would encourage other reviewers who have been dedicating their efforts to advancing scientific progress behind the scenes. Their contributions are invaluable in ensuring the quality and integrity of scholarly publications. Driven by a sense of purpose and engaging in voluntary efforts, reviewers play a crucial role in shaping the research trajectory. Recognizing and encouraging these dedicated individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to advance scientific progress is essential,” says Dr. Messer.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)