Reviewer of the Month (2024)

Posted On 2024-04-03 09:34:51

In 2024, LS 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.

February, 2024
Philippe R. Koninckx, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium

April, 2024
Isaac Seow-En, National Cancer Centre, Singapore

February, 2024

Philippe R. Koninckx

Dr. Philippe R. Koninckx was certified in OBGYN and laboratory medicine and introduced as a registrar the assays of LH, FSH, prolactin, estradiol and progesterone at KU Leuven. Following a PhD in steroid chemistry and endometriosis, he became a full Professor. Besides the responsibility for hormone assays, his interests were endocrinology, infertility and surgery, with the first menopause clinic on the continent in 1981 and surgery of deep endometriosis in 1990. He became a Visiting Professor in Oxford in 1996 and an Honorary consultant in the UK, in 2003 and Visiting Professor in Rome (Università Del Sacro Cuore) and honorary Professor in Moscow. He became honorary fellow of the AGES (1992), the Indonesian and Italian Endoscopy Society, and the Japanese Endometriosis Society. He received the Distinguished Surgeon Award of the ASRM in 2004 and a lifetime award at Endodubai in 2024. His interests are menopause, endometriosis, endoscopic surgery and postoperative adhesions. Learn more about him here.

The way Dr. Koninckx sees it, maintaining quality of peer review is increasingly difficult because of the discrepancy between the number of journals and publications and the time available by reviewers with experience. Those preparing manuscripts should understand that the reviewers try to help. Therefore, they begin by making a good impression and showing precision in writing (typing errors), references, and text flow. As a rule of thumb, a text that is not understandable by fast reading is poorly written. A manuscript should have a message which adds something new to the literature; this is found in the last paragraph of the introduction and conclusion of the abstract. If data only confirm what is known already, be brief and indicate why it might be useful. Second, materials and methods should permit the conclusions made and facilitate to repeat the study. When these are okay, results rarely are a problem. Finally, the introduction should introduce the subject, e.g., a factual minireview – not more, not less. Discussion should discuss the strength and weaknesses and what the manuscript adds to our knowledge. His suggestion to facilitate reviewing is a pre-review of not more than 10 minutes, but permitting to indicate major problems such as the aim of the study not being clear, inclusion and exclusion criteria missing, or statistical problems or meaningful digits or too many figures and tables.

It should be clear that reviewers try to help, not to criticize. Therefore, when preparing a paper, try to facilitate the task of the reviewer, and when receiving a review, read carefully and always learn from the review,” says Dr. Koninckx.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

April, 2024

Isaac Seow-En

Dr. Isaac Seow-En graduated from the National University of Singapore and has been a specialist colorectal surgeon with Singapore General Hospital Department of Colorectal Surgery and the National Cancer Centre Singapore since 2017. In 2020, he completed a year-long fellowship training in advanced minimally invasive colorectal surgery in Taiwan. He is currently an Assistant Professor for the Surgical and Oncology Academic Clinical Programmes at Duke-NUS Medical School, and the Department of Surgery, National University of Singapore School of Medicine. He is also a Clinical Core Faculty Member of the SingHealth General Surgery Residency Programme, and an Executive Committee Member of the Society of Colorectal Surgeons, Singapore. With more than 60 peer-reviewed publications and 6 book chapters, particularly in the area of innovative surgical technique, Dr. Seow-En has a keen interest in laparoscopy, transanal minimally invasive surgery (TAMIS) for rectal cancer, natural orifice specimen extraction surgery (NOSE), colorectal cancer survivorship, as well as surgical education. Learn more about him here.

Dr. Seow-En reckons that the current peer-review process is slow and onerous, often requiring multiple back and forth revisions and replies over the course of many months. This often results in frustration amongst authors who may not be aware of the status of their manuscript. There is no perfect system, but a good technical support team who are able to keep authors in the loop and prompt overdue reviewers or editors is useful to expedite the process. In addition, reviewers should not take on topics outside their field of expertise and must be committed to re-reviewing manuscript revisions in a timely fashion.

In Dr. Seow-En’s opinion, manuscripts should be considered on their own merit based on sound methodology, novelty, and results, and not on the peer reviewers’ personal experiences or preconceived notions. Considering the current rapidity of research progress, experienced clinicians may have greatly different levels of expertise and understanding of various topics, even within their subspecialty fields. “To me, one of the most important attributes as a peer reviewer is to keep an open mind, and to provide constructive, not destructive, criticism,” adds he.

Institutional review board (IRB) approval, according to Dr. Seow-En, is the best means of ensuring research rigor, compliance to ethics, and protection of study participants. While achieving IRB approval can be a laborious process, it is important for researchers to understand that it also grants protection to the researchers themselves against potential accusations or complaints.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)