Reviewer of the Month (2023)

Posted On 2023-09-16 11:43:17

In 2023, many JMAI reviewers 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, 2023
Jeffry Hogg, Newcastle University, UK

June, 2023
Cong Cong, University of New South Wales, Australia

July, 2023
Hee-Young Kim, Samsung Seoul Hospital, Republic of Korea

August, 2023
Hanna von Gerich, University of Turku, Finland

October, 2023
Zachary A Vesoulis, Washington University School of Medicine, USA

December, 2023
Bobbie-Jo M Webb-Robertson, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA

January, 2023

Jeffry Hogg

Dr. Jeffry Hogg, MBBS, MRes, FHEA, is an Ophthalmology resident and Clinical Research Associate at Newcastle University in the UK. His research focuses on the interdependent factors that influence the implementation of clinical artificial intelligence. Through this research, he aims to distil actionable insights that promote safe, effective and fair applications of the technology. Within his own clinical specialty, Dr. Hogg has most recently led a mixed-method evaluation of an AI-enabled intervention to monitor treatment plans for people with neovascular age-related macular degeneration. This work has helped to provide pre-implementation assurances of safety and shape an intervention to deliver the technology which reconciles it with influential factors in its target context. Separately, Dr. Hogg has worked with a large US collaboration working to surface and synthesize best practices in AI implementation across healthcare contexts, the Health AI Partnership. In the near term, he aims to translate some of these learnings to the UK healthcare context. Connect with Dr. Hogg on LinkedIn.

As a reviewer, Dr. Hogg thinks that it is important to empathize with authors without compromising their offering as a gatekeeper to the academic literature and opportunities they see to support authors in improving their work. For a reviewer, it is all too easy to be perceived as overly critical, confrontational, or even passive, none of which serves the goals of the peer-review process. Reviewing requires a degree of diplomacy, remaining mindful of the efforts authors have been through to get to the point of submission or re-submission.

Speaking of the need for authors to disclose Conflict of Interest (COI), Dr. Hogg stresses that the importance of a specific COI is not for the authors to judge, as it is the context of interpretation that influences its importance – something the author cannot effectively anticipate. He adds that simply transparently reporting any potential COI is what authors should focus on, allowing each reader to interpret how relevant it is to the context in which they are interpreting the work.

As a member of the academic community, I value the quality control that the peer-review process brings to the academic literature and can certainly think of many instances where my work has benefited from it. Those benefits wouldn’t be sustainable if most members of our community did not contribute to the peer-review process. Inevitably, having invested so much time and effort in a manuscript, authors may not immediately see the value in the further efforts needed to address reviewer comments. I think like most reviewers, though, one of my motives as a peer reviewer is to try and ensure that the full value of authors’ efforts is accessible in the literature,” says Dr. Hogg.

(by Brad Li, Alisa Lu)

June, 2023

Cong Cong

Dr. Cong Cong is currently a third-year PhD student at University of New South Wales, Australia. His research mainly focuses on medical image analysis using computer vision algorithms. Recent projects include stain normalisation on histopathology images, class imbalanced classification on both histopathology images and general images. Connect with Dr. Cong on LinkedIn.

Dr. Cong believes that peer review ensures the quality and reliability of research. When experts in a field review a manuscript, they can identify errors, inconsistencies, or methodological flaws that may have been overlooked by the author. Moreover, reviewers often provide constructive feedback to authors, suggesting changes, clarifications, or improvements. This feedback can help authors refine their research, leading to more robust and effective research outcomes.

As a reviewer, Dr. Cong always endeavors to acknowledge the strengths and positive aspects of the work. He prefers to provide specific feedback on different aspects of the work and provide clear and feasible suggestions for improvement, while appropriately pointing out flaws.

Dr. Cong thinks that one can learn a lot from peer review. In his experience, after reading these manuscripts, he often gains more insights into different research methodologies and writing styles. In addition, he considers that it is a great opportunity to gain recognition and respect within professional communities.

In Dr. Cong’s opinion, it is important for a research to seek for Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval to ensure that the research is conducted in an ethical and responsible manner. He thinks that IRB approval also helps make sure that the quality and validity of research data meet the requirements. “Omitting IRB approval leads to ethical violations, potentially harming research participants and damaging the researcher's professional reputation,” adds he.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

July, 2023

Hee-Young Kim

Dr. Hee-Young Kim is a distinguished medical professional based in the vibrant city of Seoul, Republic of Korea. With a background in otolaryngology, his research has been pivotal in shedding light on the complexities of the Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD). A cornerstone of his work is his endeavor to validate middle ear pressure as a potential biomarker for Eustachian tube dysfunction. This groundbreaking research is complemented by his exploration into Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) for ETD, aiming to enhance patient care. Dr. Kim is affiliated with Harvard University and is about to publish ground-breaking research. Dr. Kim's mission is to create a healthcare environment in which every stakeholder, from patients to policymakers, understands the real-world implications of his research. He expects a future in which such discoveries drive daily healthcare decisions rather than just academic discourse. Connect with him on the Facebook or LinkedIn, and learn more about his work on ResearchGate.

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

Dr. Kim: A strong peer-review system is essential for assuring the scientific and academic publications' integrity and quality. I believe such system requires the following characteristics:

  1. Transparency - The process should be straightforward and visible to both writers and reviewers. This involves being clear about the review criteria, the stages of review, and the expected timeline.
  2. Anonymity - To ensure neutral reviews, several systems use a double-blind review process in which both the author and the reviewer remain anonymous to each other.
  3. Diversity - A diverse pool of reviewers from various backgrounds, institutions, and regions can provide a broader viewpoint and lessen any biases.
  4. Timeliness - Reviews should be completed on time to ensure that writers receive input quickly and can make necessary adjustments without substantial delays.
  5. Constructive feedback - Reviews should not only point out flaws, but also provide constructive comments to assist authors improve their work.
  6. Ethical standards - Both reviewers and authors must adhere to high ethical standards. This involves avoiding conflicts of interest, maintaining the confidentiality of the review process, and assuring the integrity of the submitted work.
  7. Training and guidance - For inexperienced reviewers, instruction, and training on how to perform a review can be invaluable. This guarantees that reviews are thorough, fair, and constructive.
  8. Feedback loop - Journals should provide feedback to reviewers on the quality of their reviews, allowing them to improve over time.
  9. Accountability - Mechanisms should be in place to resolve issues such as biased reviews, unprofessional behavior, or breaches of confidentiality.
  10. Continuous improvement - The peer-review system should be assessed and revised on a frequent basis based on feedback from authors, reviewers, and editors to solve any developing issues or inefficiencies.
  11. Recognition - Reviewers frequently volunteer their time and expertise. Recognizing their accomplishments, whether through public acknowledgement, certificates, or other means, can drive and appreciate their work.
  12. Integrity - The system should prioritize the quality and validity of the work over other variables such as potential impact or the authors' reputation.

In essence, a healthy peer-review system is one that is fair, transparent, and efficient, with the goal of ensuring the highest quality of published work while honoring and recognizing the contributions of both authors and reviewers.

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

Dr. Kim: Reviewers play an important role in the peer-review system, maintaining the quality and integrity of scientific and academic publications. When reading manuscripts, reviewers should keep the following in mind:

  1. Objectivity: Reviewers should approach each manuscript objectively, evaluating the work on its merit rather than personal beliefs or affiliations.
  2. Confidentiality: The manuscript's content should be considered as confidential. Reviewers should not discuss, disseminate, or utilize the material until it is publicly available.
  3. Conflict of interest: If there is a potential conflict of interest, such as a personal or professional contact with the authors or a direct investment in the results, it should be declared and, if necessary, the reviewers should recuse themselves.
  4. Constructive criticism: Feedback should be constructive, suggesting suggestions for development rather than simply pointing out shortcomings. The tone should be respectful and professional.
  5. Thoroughness: To conduct a thorough review, reviewers should read the entire paper, including any extra information.
  6. Relevance to the journal's scope: The paper should be relevant to the journal's scope and mission. If it is not a good fit, notify the editor.
  7. Validity of methods and outcomes: The approach should be good and appropriate for the research issue, and the outcomes should be valid and well-supported by data.
  8. Originality and significance: The paper should add new knowledge or insights to its field. It should not repeat previously published work.
  9. Citations and references: Ensure that the manuscript properly cites past work and does not overlook major relevant studies. Examine for possible instances of plagiarism.
  10. Ethical considerations: Ensure that the research adheres to ethical norms, especially if it involves human or animal subjects. Any concerns should be addressed to the editor.
  11. Clarity and organization: The paper should be well-organized, clearly written, and free of severe grammatical or stylistic flaws.
  12. Timeliness: Reviews should be completed within the timeframe specified. If a delay is expected, notify the editor.
  13. Recommendation: Based on the evaluation, the reviewer should make a clear recommendation – accept, accept with minor/major revisions, or reject. The recommendation should be consistent with the comments provided.
  14. Openness to fresh ideas: Science and academics thrive on fresh ideas and techniques. Reviewers should be receptive to uncommon or unique approaches or interpretations if they are well substantiated.
  15. Feedback to the editor: Any issues or ideas that are more appropriate for the editor rather than the author, such as potential conflicts of interest or ethical problems, should be conveyed separately.

In short, reviewers should approach the assignment with integrity, diligence, and a desire to advance quality and understanding in their sector.

JMAI: Why do you choose to review for JMAI?

Dr. Kim: Medicine and artificial intelligence are rapidly emerging fields. I had previously written an article in this topic, and reviewing for a journal like JMAI allows me to stay current on the latest techniques, technology, and discoveries in the medical AI field. Second, by reviewing, I can help to assure the publication of high-quality and meaningful research, thereby advancing medical AI. Reading papers, on the other hand, can also help strengthen my critical thinking skills and provide insights for my study and efforts. Besides, as a reviewer, I can connect with journal editors and other professionals in the industry. Being a reviewer for this journal will help me get professional recognition and credibility in the academic community. Moreover, peer review is an important part of academic publishing. I feel it is our obligation to contribute to the process, especially if we benefit from it as authors. Last but not least, the intersection of AI and medicine fascinates me. AI has huge potential to transform healthcare. Now, I'm particularly interested in how to employ AI for peer-reviewing. In addition, I see a world in which every stakeholder, from patients to legislators, is aware of the implications of my research. This is not only a desired goal; it is also necessary for the advancement of healthcare and medicine. That is the goal I have set for myself today. It is a vision in which my knowledge is applied in real-world healthcare decisions rather than just in journals.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

August, 2023

Hanna von Gerich

Dr. Hanna von Gerich serves as a doctoral researcher and project researcher at the Department of Nursing Science in the University of Turku, Finland. She has a background in clinical and public health nursing, before venturing into the world of academia and health informatics. She is also the past chair of International Medical Informatics Association, Students and Emerging Professionals Nursing Informatics subgroup (IMIA-SEP-NI). Her research focuses on secondary use of electronic health record data and especially free text nursing documentation to evaluate nursing care to support nursing management. Her other interests include the potential and boundaries of using artificial intelligence in supporting nursing care, as well as sustainable development and use of health technologies.

Dr. Gerich thinks that in an ideal world, peer review is an effective tool to maintain and improve the quality of research and the way it is reported as well as to broaden our minds and provoke new questions. It is important that research is not conducted in isolation from the rest of the research community, but the ideas and results are also tested among those who are not too close to the research in question.

Dr. Gerich indicates that the most important quality for a reviewer is an open mind and readiness to look outside the box, not thinking about what or how I would do this. Furthermore, she thinks that a reviewer should always think about what kind of reviews they themselves would find useful, and refrain from giving critique for critiques sake. Instead of looking for failures from the manuscript, she always tries to look at how the research and the manuscript could be improved, and also provide guidance.

Especially for emerging professionals like myself, it is important to remember that, at its best, peer reviews are not just benefitting the researcher providing the manuscript, but also an opportunity for the reviewer to learn new things and gain new insights,” says Dr. Gerich.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

October, 2023

Zachary A Vesoulis

Zachary Vesoulis is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Newborn Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, USA. His research is focused in 3 areas: 1) Computational modeling for mechanistic understanding of neonatal brain injury including silent hypoxia, impaired autoregulation, seizures, and autonomic dysfunction. 2) Application of AI to large datasets to identify novel imaging, physiologic, and clinical biomarkers. 3) Algorithm and device development to improve outcomes, especially in marginalized or historically discriminated groups (racial minorities, opioid exposure, LMIC). Connect with him on Twitter @vesoulislab or learn more about him here.

Biases are inevitable in peer review. To minimize any potential biases during review, Dr. Vesoulis tries to avoid looking at the author names and institutions until the end. He takes notes as he reads, but does not start completing a review until he has read the entire article. Once he has completed the review, he re-reads the article side by side with the review to see if any of his observations or comments have changed after a second reading.

From a reviewer’s perspective, Dr. Vesoulis thinks that it is important for authors to follow reporting guidelines (e.g. STROBE, CONSORT) during preparation of their manuscripts. These frameworks provide important structure to medical research, making it easier for the reviewer and reader to identify important aspects of the study design and the results.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

December, 2023

Bobbie-Jo M Webb-Robertson

Dr. Bobbie-Jo M Webb-Robertson is currently the Division Director of Biological Science at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Her research has focuses on the development of statistical inference models (largely machine learning) focused on data integration, with applications to diverse biomarker discovery problems. Collaboration is a key component and focus of her career, previously serving as the PNNL director for the Precision Medicine Innovation Co-laboratory (PMedIC), which is a partnership with Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU). She also holds joint appointments in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at OHSU, the Department of Biostatistics & Informatics at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and the Department of Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Florida. Dr. Webb-Robertson has a BA in Mathematics from Eastern Oregon University, an MS in Statistics and Operations Research, and a PhD in Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Dr. Webb-Robertson thinks that peer review is a service to the community that is necessary to ensure high-quality research is being published. Reviewers need to bear in mind that each set of authors have a unique style, and because they may not have completed a study or analysis the way you would does not mean it is invalid. She asks all reviewers to approach each review with an open mind.

In Dr. Webb-Robertson’s opinion, reviewers should focus on methods, evidence of the findings, and if these are solid. An objective review focuses on facts from the manuscript and clearly and succinctly states where these are exceptional or lacking. She adds, “To make my reviews as objective as possible I seldom look at the author list. When I read back through my review, I ensure that each major issue that is pointed out is substantiated with specific detail from the paper, refraining from personal opinion, and focused on the science.”

Artificial intelligence is changing how we are, and will be, doing medicine in the future. JMAI was only established in 2021 and is growing rapidly and I wanted to be part of helping grow this field of fundamental science,” says Dr. Webb-Robertson.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)