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
Cureus Editor in Chief

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
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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

Hear From the Co-Founder: Dr. Alexander Muacevic

alexander-muacevic_01Cureus: Tell us about your background – how did you decide to pursue a career in medicine? How did you settle on brain surgery?

Alex: I started my medical career at the University of Mainz and did my doctoral on surgical strategies for multiple intracranial aneurysms. I was always fascinated by the option to work at the very central part of human beings – the brain. I got the chance to participate in one of the best neurosurgery programs in our country at the University of Munich Hospitals and finished the residency program there in 2003.

Cureus: You’ve also worked as the Director of the European Cyberknife Center in Munich for the past 9 years. How did you get involved with Cyberknife radiosurgery? What’s a typical day like for you at the Cyberknife Center?

During my residency program I got more acquainted with the possibilities of brain radiosurgery and it was obvious to me that this kind of non-invasive and equally effective therapy for certain tumors has a big future perspective. I did an additional two years of training in radiation oncology and teamed up with my partner Berndt Wowra who already was an experienced brain radiosurgeon. During that time we learned about the new radiosurgery innovation called Cyberknife and decided to found a new center together with the University of Munich Hospitals to offer this kind of treatment option for the first time in Germany. My ambition was and is to establish radiosurgery as a full body treatment method for the whole body, not only the brain.

Cureus: And as if that wasn’t enough, you’re also a professor at the University of Munich! What can you tell us about your professorial experiences over the years?

Alex: During my residency I worked on several research projects to do a thesis for an additional medical degree which is similar to the Ph.D. in the U.S.. Since I continued to publish scientific contributions after my thesis, the University of Munich appointed me a full professor in 2013. I was fortunate to receive this title as this is something you can not apply for yourself.

Cureus: How did you get involved with Cureus? What attracted you to the concept of an open-access, free-to-publish medical journal?

Alex: I’ve known John Adler for many years and we were both very involved in a medical society called The Radiosurgery Society. Initially our idea was to establish a medical journal for this society but when we started to work on it we came to the conclusion that there is urgent demand for a new way for medical publications to take on the web capabilities of the 21st century. We started with a small group and called our platform Peeremed.com. It was obvious that we needed to step up and find a more professional group to pursue our dreams of a real powerful web 2.0 journal plattform for the upcoming publishing generation. We had contacted several groups in Germany, but as all of the big web innovations nowadays come out of Silicon Valley we worked on establishing the new company – Cureus.com – in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Cureus: Not only are you a co-founder of Cureus, but you’re also the Co-Editor-in-Chief – what does that entail? Describe your daily editorial duties.

Alex: My job is to manage the articles from submission to final publication. I need to make sure they fulfill the criteria of a scientific contribution in terms of data quality, and also bureaucratic aspects like disclosures and conflict of interest. Furthermore I manage the review process with our team to achieve fast and high-quality reviews for our authors.

Cureus: Peer-reviewed medical science has grown increasingly political of late, with accusations of reviewer and editorial bias. What are your thoughts on this? Why is Cureus different?

Alex: Cureus offers the most unbiased possibility for publishing scientific data, as the decisions of how and what to publish remain up to the author. The author himself is responsible for his data, he keeps his copyright and is evaluated by the scientific community-at-large similar to ratings at YouTube or Amazon. This is a huge difference from the conventional publication process where two or three so-called insiders decide what is published or rejected – a very biased and inadequate way to evaluate the academic work of your fellow researchers.

Cureus: Thanks so much for taking the time!

Alex: Thank you.

Interview with an Author: Dr. George Rodrigues

We recently had a chance to speak with Dr. George Rodrigues, primary author of “Integration of Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy in the Management of Pulmonary Metastases from Salivary Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma,” and a key contributor to the Cureus journal with several papers published thus far.

urlGeorge is a Clinician Scientist and Radiation Oncologist at the Lawson Health Research Institute and London Health Sciences Centre. He has consulted on and provides radiation treatment for patients with genitourinary and thoracic cancers as well as brain metastases since 2001, when he graduated from the University of Toronto Radiation Oncology Residency Program. He is also a former award-winning Residency Program Director and is the Chair of the Genitourinary Multidisciplinary Disease Site.

C: Tell us a bit about the research you published with us.

GR: In the context of a case report, we use the example of a woman with pulmonary metastases from parotid gland adenoid cystic carcinoma to illustrate the sequencing of stereotactic radiotherapy in the context of other treatment options such as surgery and ablative technologies. A brief review of the literature and discussion is included in the manuscript. The conclusion of the case report suggests that SABR can be an effective tool in conjunction with other techniques for the treatment of pulmonary metastases in ACC, however, its use should be ideally directed to tumors not amenable to other techniques (i.e. central lesions or high-risk surgical cases) given the limited safety data in using SABR for more than three pulmonary lesions.

C: What’s the one thing you’d want people to know if you only had 30 seconds to sum up your article?

GR: The main point of the case report was to highlight the fact that management of pulmonary metastases from head and neck adenoid cystic carcinoma can be complex. Multidisciplinary care is necessary to sequence surgical, radiation, and ablative therapies appropriately.

C: Where might you go from here and what’s next in your research?

GR: Not sure at this moment. The study of this patient population is very challenging given the rare nature of this disease entity. Prospective studies are generally absent in the literature. Perhaps population-based data can be used to further investigate hypotheses related to this interesting patient population.

C: How did you first hear about Cureus, and what persuaded you to submit to us?

GR: I first heard of Cureus from a colleague. I submit manuscripts to Cureus because of its open access nature, efficient peer review system and low cost.

C: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us and submitting another great article to Cureus!