Over the year, many JHMHP 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.
Carol Nash, University of Toronto, Canada
Pavani Rangachari, Augusta University, USA
David Bull, American Intercontinental University, USA
Zo Ramamonjiarivelo, Texas State University, USA
Feng (Johnson) Qian, University at Albany, USA
Joseph R. Hopkins, Stanford University, USA
Carol Nash, PhD is Scholar in Residence in the History of Medicine Program, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada. Since 2015, she has facilitated the weekly Health Narratives Research Group through Health, Arts and Humanities sponsored by the Department of Psychiatry through the Mount Sinai Hospital. She is co-founder of self-directed secondary and post-secondary education programs including Alpha II Alternative School with the Toronto District School Board and the Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto. She was awarded the 2020 Leaders and Legends Award for Innovation from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Her current areas of research are self-directed learning and narrative research. You may find out more about Dr. Nash through Orcid or LinkedIn.
In the following interview, Dr. Nash will share her thoughts and insights about peer review and academic writing.
JHMHP: What role does peer review play in science?
Dr. Nash: As a philosopher of education, I answer this question by first disclosing the view of science I am assuming. Of the number of ideas regarding science I might uphold—including those of Popper, Polanyi, Kuhn, Feyerabend and Lakatos—I will answer what role peer review plays in science from the perspective of Thomas Kuhn. As such, science is seen as a professional activity that takes place within a paradigm. Paradigms represent normal science and have beginnings and endings. These transitional times of turmoil are seen as scientific revolutions. Generally, such revolutions take place when those upholding one particular paradigm stop contributing to scientific literature, usually as a result of death. As such cohorts adhering to a paradigm in science are recognized as peers. Peer review is what keeps the paradigm alive and representative of what is currently understood by science in a particular field. Without peer review defining and maintaining the boundaries of the discipline, there is no science.
JHMHP: What reviewers have to bear in mind while reviewing papers?
Dr. Nash: In recognizing that peer review is the backbone of science, reviewers need to keep in mind that their contribution is the supporting structure of their discipline. As such, their review becomes part of the intricate and complex web of interaction necessary for representing the paradigm to which their science is identified. However, as paradigms change with scientific revolutions, reviewers also have to keep in mind that some papers they review may be revolutionary and need to be evaluated outside the current paradigm. As such the reviewer must also be open-minded and creative in the approach taken to reading the paper for the rare possibility of such a revolution in scientific thinking.
JHMHP: Reviewing papers is often non-profitable, what motivates you to do so?
Dr. Nash: My work involves helping researchers overcome the anxiety and depression known to be prevalent among them. One of the things that often initiates anxiety and/or depression is unclear reviews received in relation to papers submitted to peer reviewed journals. I am motivated to act as a reviewer because, primarily, I want to reduce the likelihood that researchers will face unnecessary anxiety and/or depression by making sure my review is thorough, clear, insightful and helpful. This type of review also helps to safeguard that, if published, the paper represents and upholds the best of science it can.
JHMHP: To what extent would conflict of interest influence a research?
Dr. Nash: Conflict of interest can be considered any interest the researcher has in publishing particular findings or making certain interpretations that are guided by something other than science and for which the research will profit by skewing the data or its analysis. Why conflict of interest is a problem in science is that it diminishes the reliability and trustworthiness of the information presented, calling into question the entire undertaking that is science. For science to be justified in being adhered to as our closest approximation to truth, researchers must rigorously maintain a lack of conflict.
(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)
Dr. Pavani Rangachari, PhD, CPH, is a tenured Professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences at Augusta University (AU), Augusta, GA, USA. She holds an M.S and Ph.D. in Health Management & Policy from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany, USA. Her scholarly interests are in health services research, with a special interest in studying the implementation of change and innovation in healthcare organizations. While completing her doctoral studies, she gained extensive work experience in the healthcare industry, having served at both a state hospital association and a community hospital. In 2008, she received the William H. Newman Award for “Best-Paper-Based-on-a-Dissertation” from the Academy of Management (AOM). She has numerous publications as lead author in peer-reviewed journals related to healthcare management, informatics, leadership, and public health, and has received R03 and R21 federal research grants as Principal Investigator, from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), USA. Her scholarship has been recognized at a national level with the “Best-Theory-to-Practice Paper Award” from the AOM Healthcare Management Division and nomination for the “Distinguished Paper Award” from the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA). Dr. Rangachari has also served on numerous grant review panels for federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC/NIOSH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and AHRQ. In 2019, she completed a four-year term as Standing Member of the HITR Study Section for AHRQ. She currently serves as Associate Editor for BMC Health Services Research and Associate Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Healthcare Leadership. For more information about Dr. Rangachari, please visit her page here.
In Dr. Rangachari’s opinion, peer review is how the scientific community self-monitors its work. It is the process by which scholars review each other’s work to make sure that it is accurate, relevant, and significant. It is important because scientific results can have far-reaching implications for individuals and society. For this reason, they need to undergo “peer review”, which is the scientific community’s process of a quality control, before they are published.
How do we ensure a peer review is constructive? To Dr. Rangachari, peer review should be aimed to improve the work being reviewed, rather than to reject work for the sake of rejection without providing valid arguments or opportunities for improvement.
Speaking of what motivates herself to keep reviewing, Dr. Rangachari says, “I like both the professional service and the professional development aspects of being a peer reviewer. As a reviewer, I have an opportunity to provide constructive feedback on scholarly work (e.g., research manuscripts and grant applications). This way, I feel like I am making a contribution to the advancement of science in my field. Being a reviewer also helps me stay informed about the current state-of-the-art research in the field, including hot topics, new ideas, and innovative solutions to complex problems associated with health and healthcare in the community. There is also a feeling of self-satisfaction associated with being a peer reviewer, in addition to other benefits, such as networking, becoming acquainted with the editorial process, improving writing and critical thinking skills, and the development of expertise in a field.”
Finally, Dr. Rangachari emphasizes that it is important for authors to follow reporting guidelines like PRISMA and STROBE because they serve as an established method of quality control within the scientific community for specific types of research like systematic reviews, observational studies, etc. Reporting guidelines essentially provide a checklist of items deemed essential for transparent reporting of these types of research and the scholarly output arising from such research.
(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)
Dr. David Bull, PhD., DBA. MBA. MS., BS. PMP, CALM, currently works at the American Intercontinental University (Online) as a leader for Healthcare Administration and Related Disciplines in Schaumburg, USA. Dr. Bull conducts research on public health, complex emergencies, and forced migrations. His research interests are community development and public health. You may connect with Dr. Bull through LinkedIn.
Dr. Bull believes that JHMHP has helped to minimize bias by ensuring a blind review. He tries to be fair when reviewing a manuscript by following the content and methodology as presented and aligning with the appropriate research methodology and benchmarks. When he is doing peer review, he always points out errors and recommends revisions when content becomes ambiguous too.
To Dr. Bull, reviewers must be knowledgeable in the discipline and research methodologies. He believes that reviewers must be familiar with trends in the industry but at the same time be open to new ideas and willing to learn new concepts. He is duty-bound to contribute to academia as he keeps on learning and grows to make the world a better place to live in.
“The sharing of data is crucial to the success of the scientific world. A complementary mix of expertise provides a formidable force where professionals may share knowledge and findings that may generate further research and subsequent findings too,” says Dr. Bull.
(By Vicky Wong, Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)
Dr. Ramamonjiarivelo is a tenured Associate Professor at the School of Health Administration, College of Health Professions, Texas State University, Texas, USA. Her research interests include the factors associated with the strategic decision-making of health care organizations and the impact of such decisions on organizational performance, and patient experience. Please feel free to connect with Dr. Ramamonjiarivelo through LinkedIn.
To Dr. Ramamonjiarivelo, peer-review is important given research complexity. She explains, “Having your research peer-reviewed by experts is a great way to check the scientific integrity of your research and it greatly improves the quality of your research and manuscript as a scientific product.” She thinks that the major limitation of peer review is timing. Some peer-reviewed journals take almost a year to deliver review feedback to authors and then another year to actually publish the study. As a result, the published manuscript is almost outdated by the time of publication. She suggests that there should be a way for editors to streamline the publication process to benefit both the journals and the authors.
As a reviewer, Dr. Ramamonjiarivelo thinks having the ability to organize a work schedule is a great way to find extra time to review the manuscripts, which is always done at night or during the weekends. She adds, “For me, peer-reviewing is a way to give back to the research community because my studies are also peer-reviewed by the same community.”
As a reviewer, Dr. Ramamonjiarivelo emphasizes that authors must follow reporting guidelines, such as TREND and CONSORT, as the submitted manuscripts will be more standardized and useful for future references. Also, these guidelines help authors to provide high-quality research and make valuable contributions to the scientific community. It makes peer-reviewing easier and unbiased too.
(By Vicky Wong, Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)
Feng (Johnson) Qian
Dr. Feng (Johnson) Qian, MD, PhD, MBA, is a tenured associate professor at the Department of Health Policy, Management, and Behavior, School of Public Health, University at Albany-State University of New York, USA. Currently, he teaches graduate-level courses of public health leadership, health economics, economic evaluation in healthcare, clinical trials and outcomes research, and digital health.
To Dr. Qian, a healthy and transparent peer review system is crucial and essential for the invited reviewers to provide objective and valuable comments and suggestions that influence a submitted manuscript’s future. He emphasizes that reviewers need to be fully aware that they play a significant role in determining the submitted manuscript’s outcome. They are expected to submit fair and well-written comments, offer constructive suggestions and make a clear recommendation to the editor about whether to accept, reject or request a revision to the submitted article in a timely manner.
As a reviewer, Dr. Qian reinforces that the institutional review board (IRB) approval process can help promote the safety and well-being of human participants, and ensure adherence to the ethical values and principles. If this process is omitted, he believes that human participants involved in the research and the ethical values and principles will be at increased risk. Therefore, he values the importance of the IRB approval for research studies and urges authors to apply for this before sending the paper for a review.
“As review work is laborious and time-consuming, I want to sincerely thank those reviewers who dedicate themselves to making great contributions to the scientific community by serving as the checkpoint to academic credibility and research integrity,” says Dr. Qian.
(By Vicky Wong, Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)
Joseph R. Hopkins, MD, MMM, is immediate past Associate Chief Medical Officer and Senior Medical Director for Quality at Stanford Health Care (SHC), and Clinical Professor of Medicine/Primary Care & Population Health, Stanford University School of Medicine, USA. His work in the Office of the Chief Medical Officer emphasized developing leadership ability of physicians and other leaders in Stanford Medicine, developing MD-RN leadership dyads, working with physicians with incidents of disrespectful behavior, and improving clinical care processes. He founded and directs the popular Stanford Leadership Development Program, now in its 17th year. He also teaches leadership concepts to residents and fellows, and value improvement in healthcare to medical students. His research has focused on evaluations of leadership development programs and patterns of incidents of disrespectful behavior.
To Dr. Hopkins, peer review in science assesses the quality of a study’s methods, data analysis, conclusions and limitations. Peer review identifies articles that have important relevance to the field and offers new knowledge or important confirmation of other studies. It seeks to avoid personal bias.
On the frequently discussed topic of potential bias from peer-reviewers, Dr. Hopkins believes that it can be reduced by keeping an open mind to new ideas, avoiding criticism that springs from rejecting findings and conclusions that differ from the reviewer’s own work, and using only objective criteria and a structured process for assessing the work.
Statistical analysis and peer review are two very important tools advancing the quality and integrity of research. Allowing others to see original data and do their own analysis is an even stronger method. For this reason, Dr. Hopkins encourages authors to share their original data of their research.
“I believe all scholars have a duty to contribute to the quality of work in their field and the advancement of science. I find it stimulating and often learn from it,” says Dr. Hopkins.
(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)