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How to write an effective review (and help editors and authors)

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Rik Lories, MD PhD Professor of Experimental Rheumatology
Director of the Laboratory of Tissue Homeostasis and Disease
KU Leuven, Skeletal Biology and Engineering Research Centre and University Hospitals Leuven, Division of Rheumatology

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How to write an effective review (and help editors and authors)

  1. 1. How to write an effective review (and help editors and authors) Rik Lories, MD PhD – Associate Editor OAC Skeletal Biology and Engineering Research Centre, KU Leuven Division of Rheumatology, University Hospitals Leuven
  2. 2. Rik Lories, MD PhD Professor of Experimental Rheumatology Director of the Laboratory of Tissue Homeostasis and Disease KU Leuven, Skeletal Biology and Engineering Research Centre and University Hospitals Leuven, Division of Rheumatology Disclosure Information • Leuven Research and Development, the technology transfer office of KU Leuven has received consultancy and speakers fees, and research grants on behalf of the presenter from: Abbvie, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Celgene, Eli-Lilly, Galapagos, Janssen, MSD, Novartis, Pfizer, Samumed and UCB AND My presentation does not include discussion of off-label or investigational use.
  3. 3. ER DOC
  4. 4. TRIAGE • Shared responsibility between editors and reviewers • % of manuscripts > instant reject • % of manuscripts > strong suggestion to reject by reviewers
  5. 5. SHOULD I REVIEW THIS PAPER?
  6. 6. SHOULD I REVIEW? • Reviewing will make you a better scientist and a better author o Learn from others o Discuss with your supervisor / lab head • Reviewing is a scientific duty o Reviewers are not your enemy – they are fellow scientists that will improve your manuscripts too o Being invited to review is a form of recognition • You can be rewarded for reviewing o Publons – Mendeley o Add it to your CV – win the OAC award
  7. 7. DIAGNOSE • Read the abstract (again) o Write down your questions based on the abstract • What kind of data do I expect to see? • What would convince me that the conclusion is correct? • To which things/issues should I pay attention? • Read the paper and the figures (obviously) o Identify (eventual) major problems o Check your expectations o Define your first diagnosis/decision • reject ( = no conceivable treatment available) • revise (= treat with surgery or band-aid) • accept (? does it ever happen ?)
  8. 8. TREAT – IMPROVE THE MANUSCRIPT • Read the paper again and focus on the details • Title: is it appropriate – does it convey the main message? • Introduction: o State of the art literature o Appropriate recognition of earlier work? • Methods o Are these clear? Could you theoretically repeat the experiment? o Pay attention to the stat method description
  9. 9. TREAT – IMPROVE THE MANUSCRIPT • Results o Is the question clear? Does the experiment answer the question? o Can you identify appropriate controls? o Data presentation: clear? essential? sufficient? o Data analysis: see the advise of our statistical editors! o Be critical about data not shown • Discussion o Does it have to be that long/short?
  10. 10. DRAFT YOUR REPORT • To the Editor: o Make a clear statement: I suggest to reject / a major revision because … o Outline your main “diagnosis” o Outline what you really want to see in a revised version • To the Authors: o Short summary – they will be sure you read the paper! o Main points but without ”decision” • Additional controls, a rescue experiment is suggested, would make the message more convincing … • Figures are not sufficiently clear …. o Specific points, referring to pages, figures etc…
  11. 11. AVOID • To be rude, patronizing, competitive, bad … o Editors do not like hawks or doves – we just need good and fair reviews o Consider yourself the paper doc • Do not ask for additional experiments because you can come up with some o Any additional work should clearly improve the paper o However, do encourage comprehensive studies! • Do not impose specific techniques or analyses – let the authors consider as it is their paper • Respect author’s choices and be aware that there is also a statistical review in OAC.

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