Retina Society 2017 (Day 3): Predatory "Stem Cell" Clinics Harm Patients
Yoshihiro Yonekawa, Mass Eye & Ear Eric Nudleman, UCSD Jonathan Prenner, NJ Retina RETINA Roundup Editors Carol Shields, Wills Lloyd Paul Aiello, Joslin William Smiddy, Bascom Palmer RETINA Associate Editors You've worked countless nights dissecting data and then drafting and re-drafting your manuscript, for the hypothesis that is going to revolutionize the field. Your co-authors finally got back to you with their edits, and the last straggling collaborator has turned in their authorship forms. You double check the RETINA Instructions for Authors page and make sure your references are formatted correctly. The right buttons are clicked in Editorial Manager, and you press the button: "SUBMIT." What happens after that? The details of the editorial process will be for another post in the future, but the paper is routed to our Editor-in-Chief Dr. Alexander Brucker, who reviews the submission and assigns an associate or assistant editor to facilitate the review process. The editors, especially the associate editors, have years of experience providing feedback for manuscripts to help advance our field. So what do RETINA editors look for in papers? How do they make their recommendations of "Accept" or "Reject"? We had the opportunity to pose these questions to three of our esteemed associated editors: Lloyd Paul Aiello, MD, PhD of Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, Carol Shields, MD of Wills Eye Hospital, Thomas Jefferson University, and William Smiddy, MD of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami:
Left to right: Dr. Lloyd Paul Aiello, Dr. Carol Shields, Dr. William Smiddy, Associate Editors for RETINA.We hope that you will find their insights to be valuable, not just for your next submission, but for approaching research and innovation in general.
What is the most important thing you look for in a paper?Aiello: Good science, importance to the field, relevance to the Journal. Shields: The 3 most important aspects of a solid scientific report involve well-designed approach, organized results, and knowing how to interpret the results in the discussion. The report should be pointed to answer a single question in a clear fashion.
What is your thought process and steps in reviewing or editing a paper?Shields: I start with the title – this says a lot if the authors can succinctly summarize their research accurately. Next, I review the abstract. I am occasionally surprised at how authors struggle to organize a neat and easily readable abstract. The concluding statement should only reflect what their results revealed. Since most readers focus on the title for entry into a report and then only read the abstract and maybe only the concluding statement – you can imagine how important these opening pages are. If these 2 pages meet my standards, then I move into the report for review. Smiddy: What I look for first in a submitted manuscript is if it presents something that is new to the body of literature. If it does not, tolerance for defects in study design, grammar and writing organization, and the validity of the conclusion may become moot points but, in general, we can be more tolerant of the latter if the former is true. At that point the editor’s and reviewers’ role becomes how to help the author refine and put into context this contribution – how to improve it. My mentor always had great respect for a reviewer’s comments, indicating that you can always learn something from a review that can make your study better, even if the review is not a stellar or well executed one. When an author demonstrates a dismissive attitude towards those comments, it is more difficult to smile on the manuscripts disposition. A response to submitting a manuscript is not a confrontation, but rather it is a cooperation.
What are the most common mistakes that rejected papers make?
Aiello: Poor science, studies too limited, low sample number.Shields: In my opinion, the most common mistakes are poor scientific design, disorganized data without direction, authors trying to answer too many questions with too little data.