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.

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.