What is “Credible Science”?

What is “Credible Science”?

At the heart of every peer-reviewed journal is a publication philosophy. Most popular medical journals focus on “important” medical science. However, from my vantage point as a career scholar, “importance” is an ethereal “eye of the beholder” standard which inevitably feeds reviewer bias; one day a topic is hot but soon thereafter journals have lost interest, simply mirroring trends in the broader culture. Meanwhile author provenance also tends to weigh heavy on reviewer decisions about importance; even double-blinded review is not truly blind in the deeply specialized world of medicine in which we live. In contrast, from an author’s vantage, journal acceptance or rejection decisions tend to be rather capricious; submit to a journal (i.e. not Cureus), wait for the rejection before reformatting and resubmitting to a second journal, and repeat as many times as necessary to be published. Although this practice is a huge waste of everyone’s time, it has forever been the modus operandi for a journal industry obsessed with identifying and publishing “important” medical science.

Given the colossal time inefficiency of the current journal paradigm, as well as the real-world expense associated with such subjective decision making, Cureus’ philosophy has been to embrace a very different threshold for publication, which we term “credible medical science”.

What do we mean by the term “credible” science? “Credible science” is published science that simply reflects a “good faith” effort to ask and answer a relevant medical question. It involves care in collecting and analyzing data, then writing and formatting a proper manuscript, and finally responding appropriately to reviewer questions. At the end of this elaborate process, Cureus’ credible science may or may not ultimately be proven correct via future confirmatory studies. Even though this is and always has been the identical reality for every other published peer-reviewed journal, Cureus’ willingness to live without the charade of article importance miffs some (self-anointed) high priests within academic publishing. Furthermore, a lazy news media has grown comfortable with the axiomatic fig leaf that peer-reviewed science is, drum roll, absolute truth. The absence within Cureus of an absolute truth façade that our “credible science” standard accepts is disorienting to those who prefer a black-and-white world while blissfully ignoring the countless examples of once important scientific articles, published in the “best” journals, that are eventually debunked.

My point is that no peer review process is ever foolproof and like everything in life, when it comes to interpreting published science in ALL journals, the old adage “buyer beware” applies. What is presented on the written digital or analog page must, like other forms of human communication, always be interpreted by an engaged reader. Cureus’ “credible science” standard is, at its core, a grown-up acknowledgement of reality. Now I understand that Cureus’ disinterest in article “importance” is particularly irksome to some industry insiders who have made long careers defining and evangelizing on behalf of (and benefitting from) “important” (supposedly) medical science. Cureus’ commonsense standard for “credible science” and our journal’s refusal to censor unpopular (unimportant?) ideas does occasionally rankle critics. However, I am struck by the fact that some of the most vociferous critics of our “credible science” philosophy have themselves almost zero experience publishing real science in real medical journals. I liken most of these experts to the proverbial guy on the couch drinking beer and watching Sunday football on TV. How often is the guy futilely telling the coach on the field how to do his job, himself a former professional star with deep domain knowledge of football? Almost never! Nearly always, the critic is just another dude with an opinion. Nevertheless, if you really know how to call better plays for a professional football team, I urge you to get with it and become a highly-paid coach.

Meanwhile, if you think you know how to create better science, and publish better articles, please be my guest and allow our journal to make the process as effortless as possible. Important or not, all that Cureus demands is that your science be ”credible”.

Cohesive Mitigation School Strategies as Protective Factors Against the Increase of COVID-19 Cases

Cohesive Mitigation School Strategies as Protective Factors Against the Increase of COVID-19 Cases

The Marin Independent Journal picked up an article published in Cureus about cohesive mitigation school strategies as protective factors against the increase of COVID-19 cases. 

By KERI BRENNER | kbrenner@marinij.com | Marin Independent Journal

PUBLISHED: December 6, 2021 at 4:17 p.m.

COVID-19 infections declined in Marin as schools in the county reopened for in-person learning last year, according to a new study.

The study, published last month in the peer-reviewed national medical journal Cureus, tracked attendance at 77 transitional kindergarten through eighth-grade Marin schools from Sept. 8, 2020, to Jan. 21.

Researchers found a correlation between having more students in class in person and lower COVID-19 rates in the community. That was in contrast to school breaks — such as Halloween and holiday time off in December — when cases spiked, said study co-author Dr. Michaela George, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at Dominican University of California in San Rafael.

“It shows that when schools follow the advice of their local public health officials and there is a good collaboration with local educators, kids can stay safe in the classroom,” George said…

Read the full article from the Marin Independent Journal here. 
Read the Cureus article here.

Cureus Conversations: Q&A With Cureus Co-Founder Alex Muacevic

Dr. Alex Muacevic Cureus Co-founder and Co-editor-in-chief

Alexander Muacevic is the Medical Director of the European Cyberknife Center in Munich, Germany and holds an academic teaching position at the University of Munich Hospitals. Dr. Muacevic is a board-certified neurosurgeon and radiosurgeon and his main clinical and scientific interest is full body radiosurgery using advanced image-guided robotic technology. In addition to earning a European Neurosurgery Certificate, Dr. Muacevic has published over 100 scientific contributions including peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and congress proceedings. Dr. Muacevic is also a member of several academic societies and president of the International Radiosurgery Society containing over 700 members. Last, but not least, Dr. Muacevic is the Co-Founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Cureus Journal of Medical Science.

Q: What was your first publishing experience like? 

A: I started with smaller retrospective studies around Gamma Knife radiosurgery and I remember it was tough as a junior resident to fulfill all of the scientific standards.  

Q: How did your relationship with Dr. John Adler begin?

A: We knew each other from neurosurgery meetings but got to work more closely together via the Radiosurgery Society and finally when we started our Cyberknife center in Munich in 2005.

Q: Has open science always been something you’ve been passionate about? 

A: No, this developed over time and was based on frustrations in the conventional publishing world with more and more bureaucratic hurdles.

Q: In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges facing Open Access publishing?

A: Getting wide spread acceptance in the academic world.

Q: Is there anything about Cureus that you are particularly proud of?

A: Of course! We started from scratch over 10 years ago with only four people working to publish one article a month and now we have a much larger team and are publishing close to 10,000 articles this year. A great team effort and achievement!

Q: Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

A: Take your time, try to be precise and correct, and learn from more experienced people. Perhaps a simple case report with Cureus is the ideal introduction to the academic world.  

Q: What are you looking for from Cureus peer reviewers?

A: A clear, concise and unbiased analysis of the paper in question.

Q: What is it like having Dr. Adler as a partner?

A: He is the best partner to have, as he is always open to strong arguments. I enjoy the fair battles we have behind the curtain to make Cureus a better journal each and every day.

Q: Why should researchers submit to Cureus?

A: Because it is the best and fastest way to get peer reviewed science out to the world. I might be biased but I don’t know any journal which is more comfortable and also fun to publish with.

Q: Are you currently working on any research? If so, what can you tell us about it?

A: We are working on multiple projects like SRS for Trigeminal Neuralgia, Meningiomas and Renal Cell Cancer.

Cureus Conversations: Q&A With Editor in Chief Dr. John Adler

Cureus Conversations: Q&A With Editor in Chief Dr. John Adler

Dr. John Adler is the Editor in Chief of the Cureus Journal of Medical Science and Dorothy and Thye King Chan Professor in Neurosurgery Emeritus at Stanford University.

In your opinion, what is wrong with the current system of medical publishing? 

So much of publishing is presently geared towards a small elite community of academic physicians who understand the rules of the process and have the most time to engage in the publishing “game”. This means that the ideas from these academics, many of whom are not necessarily accomplished clinicians in the real world, are most widely circulated. Of course much of this process is intended to support the academic tenure process, which needs to create at least the illusion that certain ideas are innovative as opposed to merely being the product of an observant physician. Part of this stems from an excessive reliance on statistics.

Why are some slow to embrace the Open Access philosophy?

For the above reasons, academic physicians who have dominated journals for generations are loath to see publishing democratized. Democratization threatens their exclusivity/power in communicating medical science to the world.

What motivated you to start the Cureus Journal of Medical Science?

Having spent a lifetime in academia I could see that many truly clever, experienced and innovative physicians living in the trenches of medicine had no voice within the broader world of healthcare.

“Ask Me Anything” with Dr. John Adler
Follow Cureus on YouTube for more videos.

How do you measure success at Cureus?

The number, quality and reach of the articles we publish, as well as how engaged readers are with the content within.

Why should doctors and researchers publish in Cureus?

Cureus’ makes it easier and cheaper to publish a peer reviewed article than was ever possible before.

What makes a strong approval editor? What do the Cureus editors look for when critiquing medical science?

Ultimately Cureus’ most important duty is to our readers. It is somewhat ironic that Cureus’ responsibility to readers transcends that of our physician “customers”, with whom our editorial team primarily interacts. With this understanding in mind, I like it when an approval editor understand this hierarchy of accountability, approaching an article first and foremost from the reader’s perspective. Their job is not to kill/reject articles but to make sure that by reading carefully they suss out any “BS”, so that the reader has less work to do. Having said that every article, every time, by every reader should be approached with some measure of skepticism. There are no absolute truths in science. This is why our mantra is to publish “credible” science allowing the best science to “pass the test of time”.

Are you currently working on any research?

As a matter of fact, I just co-authored the following article published in Cureus: Neuromodulation via Focal Radiation: Radiomodulation Update

Using Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)Therapy to Efficiently Reduce Beard Hair Loss

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy is one of the most recent scientific advancements in the field of hair restoration. It’s simple, painless and relies on activating your body’s own healing capacities. Here is what you need to know about this procedure:


What is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy for beard hair loss?   


PRP therapy has already been successfully used for some time in treating other conditions, such as muscle, bone or joint injuries. However, it was only recently that its benefits in promoting hair growth and restoration have been scientifically verified. This quick and easy procedure involves drawing a little bit of your own blood, then using a special centrifuge to separate the substances in it. Once the nutrient-rich platelets, which are great at promoting tissue growth are isolated, they are injected into the balding areas on your chin. This leads to better vascularization, tissue healing and regeneration, which means your reinvigorated follicles will start producing a thick and healthy-looking beard.


The procedure is no more painful than the sting of any injection, it is not invasive and carries no more risks than your average jab. Because it is your own blood that you are using, there is no chance of the body rejecting the platelets.     


Who can benefit from PRP therapy for beard hair loss?


There is already mounting evidence that PRP can be very effective in treating androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness) in the beard area. However, new research indicates that it may also successfully treat alopecia areata of the beard – a relatively rare, auto-immune condition which leaves a pattern bald spots on your chin. 


PRP therapy can also help treat beard loss caused by trauma (if the scarring is not too severe), by resolved skin issues, or by aging. However, it is unlikely that this procedure will yield good results if your hair loss is caused by beard trichotillomania (pulling out your beard hair when stressed), chemotherapy, untreated dermatological conditions, extensive scarring etc. If you are unsure what is causing your beard hair to fall out or would like to be certain that PRP is the right choice for you, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist.  


How much does PRP therapy for beard hair loss cost?

A good price-quality ratio, offered by the well-reputed Wimpole Clinic in London, starts at $449 per PRP session. Given that 3-4 sessions, spaced out 4 weeks apart are normally required, followed by a booster session after 6-12 months, you should probably consider setting aside around $2,000-3,000 for the procedure in the first
year.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was sponsored and contributed by Wimpole Clinic.

Since When is “Fast and Efficient” a Shortcoming?

This past winter, I was notified in a short email that a scientific journal directory intended to drop Cureus from its list of preferred Open Access journals. No matter how specious any claim to exclusivity might be, who doesn’t crave getting past the big burly doorman guarding “The Club”? I reached out to this burly “Editor-in-Chief” of a “fraternity of journals” asking him how and why he arrived at his decision. After six email requests over nearly five months, I finally received a terse three-sentence 72-word response. In the eyes of the “Editor-in-Chief”, Cureus’ primary shortcoming was “submission to publication times are extremely short and you advertise your speed.” Basically, as I interpret this email rejection, Cureus’ sin is that it’s just too damn fast and efficient. Ahh… yeah, I guess Cureus is guilty as charged.

Continue reading “Since When is “Fast and Efficient” a Shortcoming?”

Wear a Damn Mask, PLEASE!

Wear a Damn Mask, PLEASE!

When Covid first appeared in the US, several Asian physician friends had simple advice for me, “Wear a mask.” Having dealt with various coronaviruses for over a decade, this was the fundamental lesson taken from dealing with and controlling these respiratory viruses. Now, I may only be a dumb neurosurgeon, (said with humility, irony and in jest), but I know a thing or two about masks, having spent 30 years of life wearing them, sometimes for 12 or more hours at a time. There is nothing pleasurable about wearing a mask, but I have experienced first-hand how masks can protect patients and physicians from illness. More broadly I have seen how masks can protect healthcare workers from the worst of infectious diseases, even giving them supernatural-like protection when they must enter the belly of the beast while caring for highly contagious and fatal illnesses like Ebola. Meanwhile, each and every day, healthcare workers all over the world, including my own family members are able to avoid infection while caring for hospitalized Covid patients who are often spewing the virus everywhere. It’s incontrovertible – masks truly work!; they prevent Covid infections.

Continue reading “Wear a Damn Mask, PLEASE!”

Diet Tips for People Suffering from Psoriasis 

Editor’s Note: This blog post was contributed by Everyday Health.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune, chronic condition, characterized by skin changes and other systemic manifestations. Aside from the treatment, and avoidance of trigger factors, such as stress, your doctor might recommend a change in your diet. 

A healthy diet is something anyone should consider, not only those who suffer from psoriasis. However, if you have been diagnosed with this condition, diet changes might help you keep the associated symptoms under control. Keep on reading and discover a few diet tips that might be helpful.

Continue reading “Diet Tips for People Suffering from Psoriasis “

The Covid-19 Pandemic: Not a Surprise!

Right now it is impossible to ignore the financial markets panicking, the breathless coverage by news media, the fearful buying at Costcos everywhere, and so many friends and family now worried about the emerging Covid-19 pandemic. Predictions of what might come next raise the specter of an historic pandemic that could literally kill millions or dare I say tens of millions before it runs its course. We are clearly living in an “interesting” time.

Continue reading “The Covid-19 Pandemic: Not a Surprise!”

Is it Time to Pull Back the Curtain from Peer Review?

Double-blind and single-blind processes continue to dominate academic peer review. Too often this results in a ‘black box’ – a system without sufficient transparency for authors, readers and reviewers alike. Hopefully one day fully transparent (and even public) peer review will come to be seen as acceptable throughout the world of academic publishing. For now we must take small steps to break down this barrier, just as Cureus works to break down barriers to publication.

Continue reading “Is it Time to Pull Back the Curtain from Peer Review?”