Reviewer of the Month (2023)

Posted On 2023-09-05 11:35:49

Over the year, many CCO 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.

July 2023
Jose L. Tapia, Universidad Nebrija, Spain

July 2023

Jose L. Tapia

Dr. Jose Luis Tapia is a neuropsychologist affiliated with the Centro de Investigación Nebrija en Cognición (CINC) at Universidad Nebrija, Spain. He is an active member of the International Chair in Cognitive Health and regularly collaborates with the Fundación para el Fomento de la Investigación Sanitaria y Biomédica de la Comunidad Valenciana and the Hospital de la Ribera, under the Consellería de Sanitat i Salud Pública de la Generalitat Valenciana. His research primarily revolves around the practical application of cognitive stimulation to enhance the health and quality of life of individuals, for oncology patients in particular. Dr. Tapia delves into both clinical and non-clinical settings, addressing challenges such as insomnia and other cognitive impairments in cancer patients, while also exploring the potential benefits of cognitive stimulation in daily activities, such as driving, with an emphasis on improving road safety. Through his studies, he aims to understand the cognitive mechanisms underlying these processes and to develop effective intervention strategies.

CCO: What role does peer review play in science?

Dr. Tapia: Peer review is like a quiet, methodical gatekeeper of the scientific community – being there to ensure every piece of research that reaches the public eye has been meticulously vetted and validated. Reviewers ensure the methodologies stand the test of scrutiny, that the data speak the truth, and that the conclusions echo the narrative the data tell. This process, rigorous as it might be, elevates the work, adding a layer of credibility and validation that only acknowledgment by one's peers can bring. In addition, the feedback received from peer review has often been a goldmine. More than once, a reviewer's keen eye has spotlighted something the researchers overlooked, pushing them to think deeper, refine further, and often, discover more. It is this constructive dance of critique and refinement that has shaped many research papers into their best version. Peer review ensures that the most groundbreaking, and most relevant pieces get the limelight they deserve, guiding readers and researchers alike to what truly matters.

Beyond the mechanics of research, there is also an ethical dimension. Peer review, in its quiet, unyielding way, ensures we adhere to the moral compass of scientific inquiry. Whether it is the rights of participants in a clinical trial or the potential biases lurking behind data, this process keeps us honest and grounded. Peer review fosters consensus, sets standards, and more than anything, embodies the self-correcting spirit of science. Every mistake spotted, every oversight caught, is a testament to the power of collective scrutiny.

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

Dr. Tapia: Peer review is like a comprehensive art curating. The role entails significant responsibility and trust behind. The principle of impartiality remains non-negotiable in this endeavor. Every submission must be evaluated on its individual academic merit and rigor. This is an active engagement in which reviewers navigate the intricate pathways of research, ensuring every hypothesis, methodology, and conclusion stands up to robust scrutiny. Additionally, reviewers are also mentors of sorts, charting out potential routes of refinement, suggesting avenues that might elevate the research to its pinnacle of excellence. This mentoring perspective brings me to another crucial aspect of the review process: the human element. It is paramount to remember that behind every dataset, graph, and inference, there is a dedicated researcher or team. Their commitment and effort deserve recognition and respect, even when our feedback might lean towards the critical side. Last but not least, there is an aspect that is often understated but unequivocally vital — confidentiality. As the first line of external scrutiny, reviewers are being granted early access to potentially groundbreaking ideas and findings. With this privilege comes the onus of ensuring discretion, upholding the sanctity of the research and the broader publication process.

CCO: Data sharing is prevalent in scientific writing in recent years. Do you think it is crucial for authors to share their research data?

Dr. Tapia: I am a proponent of data sharing and there are several reasons for my stance. Firstly, transparency is a foundational pillar of scientific research. When authors share their data, they are essentially opening up their work for scrutiny, validation, and replication. It ensures that the findings are reproducible, which is essential for the credibility and generalizability of the results. This, in turn, strengthens the scientific process and builds trust within the community and with the public. Secondly, data sharing fosters collaboration and accelerates progress. Other researchers can leverage these data to explore new hypotheses, build upon existing findings, or even combine datasets to derive more comprehensive insights. Such collaborative undertakings can be transformative, allowing us to answer questions and tackle challenges at a scale and depth that would have been otherwise elusive. However, it is also important to acknowledge the concerns on sensitive information or intellectual property. Ensuring the privacy and security of shared data, as well as establishing clear guidelines and protocols for its use, is paramount.

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)