You Call it High Academic Standards, I Call it Racism

I’m not a big fan of identity politics, where, in my opinion, allegations of racism are too often used as a political cudgel to bludgeon an opponent. But sometimes it really is important to call out blatant racism, especially when there is a greater societal good at stake, such as in this case protecting the integrity of peer-reviewed science. I had this very “opportunity” thrown at me just last week.

To introduce our journal, and its unique crowd sourced quality score (SIQ) to new physician authors, Cureus utilizes email to reach specific communities of authors who have published articles in other Open Access journals, inviting them to promote the scoring of their articles via social media and email. While away on business in Beijing last week, I was surprised to see one email and two voicemails on my phone from a (unknown to me) senior and accomplished author in other journals. His messages quickly revealed a surprising anger over having his article promoted by Cureus. I replied with a brief email explaining how the Creative Commons copyright system supported such fair usage by Cureus, but this merely precipitated yet another profanity-laced email volley. Not wanting to inflame matters further, and even more so wanting to understand the true source of his angst, I decided to call the author. To say the call was unpleasant would be an understatement. I am a neurosurgeon and have fairly tough skin but it is never fun to have all kinds of profanity thrown at you, especially when you’re sure it is unjustified.

I let him vent a little, as my primary goal was figuring out why he was so upset. No matter how patiently I asked this guy to explain the source of his anger, he repeatedly deflected. Finally, after having asked multiple times, this rather accomplished researcher frustratingly blurted out that he did not want his article promoted “alongside the University of Pakistan.” In that instant, everything became clear. There is no institution named The University of Pakistan. Cureus, however, recently published several articles from South Asian-based institutions, namely India and Pakistan. What I suddenly realized is that this person was merely pissed (and seemingly offended) that his “aristocratic” article (allow me some artistic license here) might appear alongside “unworthy” South Asian articles. To put it more bluntly, this otherwise truly accomplished author was just a racist old fool.

In an effort to defuse the situation I complied with his request to remove his article. Upon further reflection I now feel a deep sense of gratitude to this old racist for providing me the opportunity to expose how racism—implicit and overt (like this case), sadly lurks in the background of all peer-reviewed journals. Truthfully I am amazed that so many in this day and age are still clueless about what is happening in medical science. As I sit writing this in a world-renowned Chinese hospital, I am surrounded by the very type of medical excellence that my racist critic deems unworthy of his association. A close American friend of mine (and Cureus editorial board member) is one of the premier pediatric cardiac surgeons in the world, having invented several important heart operations. He has visited several South Asian hospitals that have refined his original operation, enabling them to operate on vastly more patients than him, and do so at less than 10% the price of a U.S. hospital. In light of this, it strikes me as complete foolishness to restrict such important medical knowledge. Scholarly racism is utterly self-defeating for authors, readers and the world at large.

Although I could find no formal studies documenting the extent of racism within scholarly journals, there is a modest body of research and other evidence pointing towards the existence of sexism, as well as prejudice against non-academic physicians, in the world of academic publishing [1-3]. Perhaps it is time to formally study the extent of racial bias in peer-reviewed journals. Any takers?

Recently, the CEO of an authoritative digital health website shared an interesting statistic with me: 40% of the articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine, arguably the most important medical journal, originate within a 200 mile radius of the journal’s headquarters. No one would disagree that Boston, New York and New Haven are centers of academic excellence, but the medical community that dominates the NEJM represents but a tiny fraction of world physicians, thus excluding an immense amount of clinical experience and knowledge. Although such willful blindness or elitism is not as blatant as the prejudice exhibited by my new acquaintance, does a hugely influential and even entitled societal institution like the NEJM not have a responsibility to open itself up to more of the world of medicine?

While I will continue to respect the world’s leading medical journals for the important work they publish, I remain proud that Cureus serves the vast numbers of physicians truly in the trenches of medicine who have been disenfranchised through what might be best termed “scholarly elitism.” Lastly, I want to thank this narrow-minded dolt for reminding me yet again why Cureus’ mission is so important to the world of medicine.

References:

1). Pololi LH, Civian JT, Brennan RT, Dottolo AL, Krupat E. “Experiencing the Culture of Academic Medicine: Gender Matters, A National Study.” J Gen Intern Med. 2012 Aug 31; [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 22936291. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

2) http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/05/plos-one-ousts-reviewer-editor-after-sexist-peer-review-storm

3) From abstract to impact in cardiovascular research: Factors predicting publication and citation. Eur Heart J. 2012 Winnik S, Raptis DA, Walker JH, Hasun M, Speer T, Clavien PA, et al. From abstract to impact in cardiovascular research: Factors predicting publication and citation. Eur Heart J. 5 June 2012 [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 22669850. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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Cureus Peer Review Just Got a Heck of a Lot Easier

We’re pleased to announce the launch of our brand new, built-from-the-ground-up peer review tool! Any article submission started today will utilize the new system while in peer review.

Previously, we had used a third-party software tool called Crocodoc for article peer review. Our team has been hard at work creating our own proprietary system that makes reviewing an easier, more intuitive experience.

Similar to Google Docs or Microsoft Word, this new system enables reviewers to highlight text and leave comments. Each reviewer’s comments will be displayed via a unique highlighted color, while also allowing for overlapping comments.

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Adding a comment

Only articles created and submitted after the release will utilize this new system. All articles created before the release will still use our original peer review system. As such, please don’t be alarmed if your review experience changes from article to article!

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Viewing a comment

Between the peer review and submission systems, we have now overhauled the entire publishing process in the past five months. We’re confident that submitting and reviewing articles with Cureus is easier than it has ever been, but we won’t stop working to make your experience better. Stay tuned for more exciting updates as we continue to tweak and enhance the Cureus Journal of Medical Science. Thanks for your support!

– The Cureus Team

Questions about the new peer review system? Drop us a note at support@cureus.com and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

Announcing the Winners of the Negative Pressure Wound Therapy Publishing Competition!

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The SIQ scoring period has ended and the scores have been tabulated. We are pleased to announce the following articles as winners of the Negative Pressure Wound Therapy with Instillation publishing competition:

1st place – 8.3 SIQ ($5,000): “Negative Pressure Wound Therapy with Instillation in a Chronic Non-Healing Right Hip Trochanteric Pressure Ulcer” by Broder, Nguyen and Broder

2nd place – 8.0 SIQ ($2,000): “A Case Review Series of Christiana Care Health System’s Experience with Negative Pressure Wound Therapy Instillation” by Felte, Gallagher, Tinkoff and Cipolle

3rd place – 7.0 SIQ ($1,000): “Utilizing the VeraFlo™ Instillation Negative Pressure Wound Therapy System with Advanced Care for a Case Study” by Rita K. Driver

We’ll be reaching out to the corresponding author of each article to arrange for award delivery.

As is the case with all of our publishing competitions, please keep in mind that only scores submitted during the competition scoring period are included when determining the winners.

We’d like to extend a big thank you to the Cureus community for their efforts in reading and scoring competition articles over the past few months. Without you, this competition would not be possible.

And remember – even though the competition is over, you can still access and score all of the articles. Thanks for your support!

Optimization Strategies for Organ Donation and Utilization Competition Winners!

novartis-donate-life-email-winners-announcedThe SIQ scoring period has ended and the scores have been tabulated. We are pleased to announce the following articles as winners of the Optimization Strategies for Organ Donation and Utilization publishing competition:

Winner, Organ Utilization – 9.3 SIQ: Trends in Usage and Outcomes for Expanded Criteria Donor Kidney Transplantation in the United States Characterized by Kidney Donor Profile Index” by Rege, Irish, Castleberry et al.

Winner, Organ Donation – 5.5 SIQ: “Envisioning and Leading Organizational Transformation: One Organ Procurement Organization’s Journey” by Orlowski

As a reward for their efforts, each author group will be awarded $5,000. (We’ll be reaching out to the corresponding author of each article to arrange for award delivery.)

As is the case with all of our publishing competitions, please keep in mind that the above scores represent only those scores submitted during the competition scoring period.

We’d like to extend a big thank you to the Cureus community for their efforts in reading and scoring competition articles over the past few months. Without you, this competition would not be possible.

And remember – even though the competition is over, you can still access and score all of the articles. Thanks for your support!

Autologous Epidermal Grafting: Announcing the Competition Winner!

kci-competition-email-winners-announcedThe SIQ scoring period has ended and the scores have been tabulated. We are pleased to announce the following articles as winners of the Clinical and Economic Benefits of Autologous Epidermal Grafting publishing competition:

1st place, 9.3 SIQ: “Clinical and Economic Benefits of Autologous Epidermal Grafting” by Maderal & Kirsner

2nd place, 9.0 SIQ: “A Case Series of Complex Recalcitrant Wounds Treated with Epidermal Grafts Harvested from an Automated Device” by Cai, Gowda, Chopra et al.

3rd place, 6.0 SIQ: “Autologous Epidermal Grafting Using a Novel Negative Pressure Epidermal Harvesting System in a Case of Stable Vitiligoby” by Krishna, Thirunavukkarasu, Krishnan et al.

As you can see, the battle for first place came down to the wire with only a handful of scores separating first and second place. (Keep in mind that the above scores represent only those scores submitted during the competition scoring period.)

We’d like to extend a big thank you to the Cureus community for their efforts in reading and scoring competition articles over the past few months. Without you, this competition would not be possible.

And remember – even though the competition is over, you can still access and score all of the articles. Thanks for your support!

We Just Made Publishing Even Easier: Introducing the New Cureus Publishing System

After months of hard work, we’re very excited to introduce the brand new Cureus publishing system! Are you ready to submit your next (or your first) article to Cureus? Well, there’s no time like the present – the new publishing system is live right now.

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We’ve collected your feedback over the past few years and we’ve done our best to incorporate as many of your suggestions as possible. We’ll continue to iterate over the coming months, so if you have any more suggestions or complaints, don’t be afraid to let us know!

It’s important to note that this change will only affect drafts started on or after Tuesday, September 6th, 2016 – any drafts started before today will utilize the existing submission system.

  • Tackle your article submission with a new, easy-to-follow, step-by-step process
  • Select from available channels and competitions via new branded icons and dedicated channel and competition pages
  • Curate and insert figures, tables and video from your media library
  • Preview your article draft at any time during the submission process

For more information, we encourage you to check out our Author Guide, which has been updated with brand new guidelines and instructions.

As always, should you have any questions or concerns when submitting your work to Cureus, please drop us a note at support@cureus.com.

Announcing the Winners of the Investigational Cardiac Radiosurgery Publishing Competition!

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The SIQ scoring period has ended and the scores have been tabulated. Without further ado, the winning article is…

‘Cost-Effectiveness of Cardiac Radiosurgery for Atrial Fibrillation: Implications for Reducing Health Care Morbidity, Utilization, and Costs’ by Nikhilesh Bhatt, Mintu Turakhia and Thomas J. Fogarty (7.17 SIQ)

We’d like to extend a big thank you to the Cureus community for their efforts in reading and scoring competition articles over the past few months. Without you, this competition would not be possible.

And remember – even though the competition is over, you can still access and score all of the articles. Thanks for your support!

– Cureus and CyberHeart