Reviewer of the Month (2021)

Posted On 2021-08-23 17:14:00

Over the year, many ASJ 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.

June, 2021
Yojiro Yutaka, Kyoto University, Japan

December, 2021
Thomas K. Maatman, Indiana University, USA

June, 2021

Yojiro Yutaka

Dr. Yojiro Yutaka graduated from Kyoto University, Faculty of Medicine in 2004. He completed his surgical residency training in Kitano Hospital and Otsu Red Cross Hospital from 2004 to 2014. He proceeded to a PhD course in Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, and investigated the field of regenerative medicine using biomaterial, and minimally invasive surgery. He won a prize in 24th European Conference on General Thoracic Surgery in 2016. After obtaining PhD in 2018, he became an assistant professor at the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Kyoto University, Japan. Now he works with Prof. Hiroshi Date in Kyoto University and is receiving advanced surgical trainings including lung cancer surgery requiring extended resection and transplantation.

The peer review system is required to validate academic work, helps to improve and maintain the quality of published research, and increases networking possibilities within research communities. Manuscripts cannot be published in scientific journals until they have been verified by other experts in the field. Reviewers offer a valuable service – They strengthen papers by checking them for mistakes, pointing out potential problems or gaps in the research, and offering suggestions for how the manuscript can be improved.

Never can a healthy peer review system exist without high-quality review. To Dr. Yutaka, a constructive review has some kind of supportive feedback given to the authors to improve the weakness of the manuscript, even if it is deemed not acceptable for publication. On the contrary, a destructive review is one that does not provide any supportive advice to improve the manuscript.

Reviewing papers connects me and academia. I’m very happy to read and learn the latest insights, and update my knowledge. I had a lot of good feedback from reviewers to enhance my publications in the past, and I would like to play a similar role as a reviewer,” says Dr. Yutaka.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

December, 2021

Thomas K. Maatman

Dr. Thomas K. Maatman is a PGY7 General Surgery Chief Resident at Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, USA, with an interest in Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary (HPB) surgery. He will begin a one-year fellowship in HPB surgery in August 2022 at Indiana University. After his three-year general surgery training, he spent two years investigating benign and malignant HPB pathology under the mentorship of Dr. Nicholas J. Zyromski, with a particular interest in improving clinical outcomes of patients diagnosed with necrotizing pancreatitis. As a Michigan native, Dr. Maatman plans to settle in Indianapolis, where he met his wife, Dr. Kristen Maatman, who will begin her Urology practice in Indianapolis in September 2022. You may connect with Dr. Maatman through Twitter @maatman_tom.

Peer review, according to Dr. Maatman, relies on experts in the field to ensure a publication and its data deliver an appropriate message to clinicians managing patients worldwide. Without expert peer review, biased opinions may negatively influence patient care. He adds, “At the end of the day, improving patient outcomes is the most important aspect of our job and must take precedence over individual career goals.”

Then we ask a question – What are the qualities a reviewer should possess? To Dr. Maatman, an ideal peer reviewer is prompt, has an expert grasp of the pathology and treatment being discussed, and is genuinely interested in academia and improving patient outcomes on a global level. In some cases, a peer reviewer must identify a biased opinion and/or a poor-quality study and reject it. On the other hand, a peer reviewer may identify a high-quality study that can benefit from revision to clarify the important message to clinicians. In this setting, an ideal peer review identifies opportunity to improve the manuscript with revisions prior to publication, even if it needs a lot of work to get there. If the message is important to patient care, it should be revised and published for the world to read.

On the subject of conflict of interest (COI) disclosure, Dr. Maatman urges authors to report any COI so any potential bias can be identified by the readers. The reason is plain and simple – biased COI can influence the results (or interpretations of the results) in a study and influence the clinical message.

Finally, there are a few words that Dr. Maatman would like to say to encourage all peer reviewers: “Peer reviewing is a relatively thankless job – it takes time out of the reviewer’s busy professional or personal life and the reviewer does not receive compensation for the task. Despite this, reviewing novel studies is critically important to ensure that new publications are valid and aimed at improving patient outcomes. Without these independent voluntary reviewers, serious clinical implications may ensue that impact patients negatively. As an aside, reviewing other author’s manuscripts opens the mind to new ideas and potentially leads to the inception of novel studies. Beyond this, manuscript writing is an ever evolving ability and is improved by reviewing other author’s work. Finally, in academic institutions, involvement in invited expert review is evaluated when considering academic promotion.”

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)