Reviewer of the Month (2023)

Posted On 2023-09-05 10:24:30

In 2023, AES 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.

July, 2023
Veluchamy A. Barathi, Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore

July, 2023

Veluchamy A. Barathi

Assoc Prof. Veluchamy A. Barathi, DVM, PhD, is an Assistant Director and Principal Investigator at Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy from the Department of Ophthalmology, Yong Loo Lin school of Medicine, National University of Singapore. She is an Associate Professor at the Department of Ophthalmology, National University of Singapore and National University Hospital System and at DUKE-NUS Graduate Medical School, Eye ACP in Ophthalmology. She is a Vet & Molecular Biologist with research focused on understanding the pathophysiological mechanism and new therapeutics for myopia, glaucoma, ocular infectious diseases, retinal inherited degenerations, retinal atrophies, retinal angiogenic diseases (diabetic retinopathy and Age-related Macular Degeneration). Her research has led to the translational and pre-clinical testing of ocular diseases using specific animal models. She has published more than 140+ peer-reviewed papers including book chapters; 100+ proceedings; 120+ conference presentations and obtained more than US$85M research funds from national grant funding body and industry as PI/Theme PI/Platform PI/CO-PI/CO-I/Collaborator. She is a chair of Singhealth Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).

AES: What are the qualities a reviewer should possess?

Assoc Prof. Barathi: A reviewer should possess a combination of qualities that contribute to the integrity and effectiveness of the peer-review process. These qualities include:

Expertise - A strong understanding of the subject matter and research methodologies is essential for evaluating the validity and significance of the research.

Objectivity - Reviewers should approach manuscripts with an open mind, focusing on the quality of the research rather than personal biases.Attention to detail - Thoroughly examining the manuscript for accuracy, methodology, and presentation ensures that all aspects of the research are adequately assessed.

Constructive feedback - The ability to provide clear and actionable feedback helps authors improve their work and enhance the overall quality of the publication.

Timeliness - Promptly completing reviews within the stipulated timeframe is crucial to maintaining the efficiency of the peer-review process.

Ethical awareness - Reviewers should uphold ethical standards, identifying potential conflicts of interest and maintaining confidentiality.

AES: What are the limitations of the existing peer-review system? What can be done to improve it?

Assoc Prof. Barathi: The existing peer-review system, while fundamental, has its limitations. These include: 1) Bias - The potential for unconscious bias among reviewers and authors can influence the outcomes of the review process. 2) Subjectivity - Reviewers' opinions can differ, leading to inconsistent judgments on the same manuscript. 3) Workload - Reviewers often have heavy workloads, leading to potential delays in the review process. And 4) Detection of misconduct - The current system may not effectively detect all instances of plagiarism or data manipulation.

To improve the system, several measures can be considered, such as: 1) Double-Blind Reviews - Concealing authors' and reviewers' identities can help mitigate bias and subjectivity. 2) Reviewer training - Offering training to reviewers on various aspects of the review process can enhance their skills and consistency. 3) Transparent review criteria - Clear guidelines for evaluating manuscripts can reduce subjectivity and provide a standardized assessment framework. And 4) Recognizing reviewers - Acknowledging and valuing reviewers' contributions can motivate and retain their engagement.

AES: Would you like to say a few words to encourage other reviewers who have been devoting themselves to advancing scientific progress behind the scene?

Assoc Prof. Barathi: Reviewers play an indispensable role in shaping the trajectory of scientific progress. Reviewers’ dedication and expertise impact the quality and reliability of research outcomes. Remember that reviewers’ constructive feedback and rigorous assessment contribute directly to the advancement of knowledge. The efforts reviewers invest in this process may not always be visible, but they are undeniably significant. Reviewers’ commitment deserves recognition and appreciation.

AES: From a reviewer’s perspective, do you think it is important for authors to follow reporting guidelines (e.g., STROBE, PRISMA, and CARE) during preparation of their manuscripts?

Assoc Prof. Barathi: Absolutely. Reporting guidelines serve as standardized frameworks for transparently and accurately presenting research findings. From a reviewer's standpoint, adherence to these guidelines enhances the clarity and replicability of research. It enables reviewers to assess the study's design, methods, and results effectively. Furthermore, it aids readers, researchers, and clinicians in understanding and applying the study's outcomes appropriately. Ultimately, following reporting guidelines elevates the credibility and impact of the research within the broader scientific community.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)