Today, we would like to introduce a special series of the MDS podcast focused on the peer review process. In a total of 10 episodes, we'll explore the most common questions and challenges faced by young trainees and movement disorders neurologists when asked to review a paper. In the next few months, we hope to take a tour of the peer review process and provide specific tips and advice on how to approach and review a manuscript.
For our first episode, it is my great pleasure to introduce Dr. Christopher Goetz. Dr. Goetz is a professor of neurological sciences and pharmacology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He has published over 450 peer-reviewed articles, over 200 book chapters, and 14 books. Dr. Goetz is the past president of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorders Society, as well as prior co-editor of the Movement Disorders journal. He's also the supervisor, faculty of the MDS peer review program.
Hello, Dr. Goetz and welcome to the MDS peer review podcast.
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[00:01:31] Dr. Christopher Goetz:
Daniel, it's a pleasure to be with you.
[00:01:34] Dr. Daniel Di Luca:
Thank you. So as young trainees, we often feel quite insecure when asked to perform our first peer review. It can be quite difficult to find a formal educational materials, and we often think that we might be lacking specific training. Just as a very initial and broad question, would you be able to give us a sense of what is the peer review process?
[00:01:58] Dr. Christopher Goetz:
The peer review process is the time-honored method whereby peers judge the work of their own colleagues. And rather than have an external body determine or a government agency, the scientific community validates the importance of a given manuscript or presentation by turning to the peers in the audience, or who are reading, to come back and to comment on the quality of that work. And it is a time-honored, and I think the most valid, and also the most rigorous, way of evaluating scientific work.
[00:02:41] Dr. Daniel Di Luca:
Thank you very much, Dr. Goetz. That's a very interesting. And I think you answered the question of what is the importance of peer review. And in that sense, why do you believe that young trainees and other movement disorders neurologists should be part of the peer review process?
Well, for two reasons, from both sides. If you are going to write a manuscript, you can't really write the manuscript without knowing your audience. And therefore, thinking about the peer review process, I'm always writing, thinking: what are the reviewers going to say about this? How am I going to convince the reviewers? Until you participate on both sides, as an author, but also as a reviewer, you don't have that sense of dialogue. It's an anonymous dialogue, but it's a very active dialogue, a very exciting dialogue, and you need to see it from both sides.
Can you explain briefly what is our general role as a reviewer?
[00:03:42] Dr. Christopher Goetz:
The general role of the reviewer is to be compassionate towards the author, to put yourself in his or her shoes, and to honor science. So you are reading the manuscript to understand what was done, to place it in the context of your specialty, and then to offer the critique that is positive.
You're not there to kind of fire the person from the life of being a researcher. You're there to guide that person into suggestions that can make a manuscript even better. Or, if it's ready for acceptance, to honor that and to tell the editor, this is ready.
[00:04:31] Dr. Daniel Di Luca:
That's a very interesting perspective of of the role of the reviewer. As young trainees, we often do not understand what happens to our papers once we've submitted, and we don't really understand what is the role each individual in this chain that we call journal. Would you be able to just tell us with your experience, what are some of the critical roles and components of the process? Like the editor, the associated editor, the reviewers, and so on.
[00:05:03] Dr. Christopher Goetz:
Each journal is of course organized individually, but I can tell you that when I was the co-editor of the Movement Disorders journal, the two editors worked together to decide on the mission of the journal, and as articles come in, they are then selected by title or by subject to be handled primarily by one editor or another, or sometimes relegated to an associate editor. The editorial board exists as people who are willing to review many articles and therefore give a homogeneity across the year of the review rigor.
And then we invite individual reviewers, those who have expressed an interest — and I emphasize that issue of having expressed an interest to the editor — or those who are already known in the field, or as your program has developed, graduates of your peer-review training program, because those people have had special training in this process.
So there's the editor, the associate editors and the editorial board, the individually selected reviewers. And then, you receive back a composite review that includes each individual reviewer, but also the editor and the editorial boards view of the prospects of publication.
[00:06:31] Dr. Daniel Di Luca:
Right. That's a great point. Would you be able to share some final considerations in one peer review tip or advice with young trainees who are interested in learning more about it?
[00:06:45] Dr. Christopher Goetz:
The most important point I'd like to leave everyone who's listening with is that the editor needs you. We are always in need of smart and assertive people who are willing to look at a manuscript, to judge it for its scientific rigor, and to be supportive of the authors who have written it to help make that article even better.
So if you are interested in this, the first step is to let the editor know! You're not being obnoxious, you're not being pushy. Just you write to the editor and say, 'Dear editor, I am interested in the following areas, and I feel with my training, that I would be competent and I would be privileged to have the chance to show this with a future review opportunity.' That is not considered audacious or pushy or overly aggressive. It's will be welcomed.
Of course Daniel's program is also a vehicle by which you then have credibility because you have special training. So I would think about those two messages: apply for Daniel and Allana's program, and also write directly to the editor of your choice and offer your services. Humble though they may be, the editor will be appreciative of receiving your notification.
[00:08:18] Dr. Daniel Di Luca:
That's fantastic, Dr. Goetz. Thank you again for being part of the podcast. It has been a great pleasure to learn from you today.
In this first episode, we have discussed the overall aspects of the peer review process with Dr. Goetz. Next time, we'll cover the topic of when to accept or reject an invitation to review.
Thank you all for listening.