Q&A with Professor Peter Howe, School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, The University of Newcastle, Australia
We have interviewed Professor Peter Howe, School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, The University of Newcastle, Australia regarding the importance of publishing and editing to building a career in academia.
Peter is a Professor of Nutrition Research in the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy and Director of the Clinical Nutrition Research Centre at the University of Newcastle. He is also an Adjunct Professor in Nutritional Physiology at the University of South Australia and Adjunct Professor in Physiology at the University of Adelaide. Peter has published over 200 papers with 6000 citations (H-index = 43). His focus is the scientific substantiation and promotion of the health benefits of functional foods and nutraceuticals through collaborative research partnerships with industry. He is joint Editor-in-Chief of the online journal Nutrients and a Fellow of the Nutrition Society of Australia.
- What do you think is the biggest challenge for researchers in getting their work published today?
Having high quality research outcomes and knowing how to communicate them effectively.
- What advice do you have for other researchers in selecting the right journals to submit their research papers to?
Choose a journal in which you would expect to find research of similar quality in your field.
- Having published so many papers yourself, how do you best manage the sometimes complex process of preparing and submitting papers to journals while still finding time to conduct your research?
It’s a team effort. Our preparation for publication starts with the original research proposal. The background or rationale for conducting a clinical trial should ultimately form the introduction for the paper reporting the outcomes. The roles and contributions of potential co-authors are agreed at an early stage and, on completion of the trial, I encourage prompt analysis, interpretation and presentation of results, e.g. in conference abstracts. That provides the essential groundwork for preparation of a full manuscript. The lead author prepares a first draft, after which all co-authors provide critical input in a timely fashion and agree on a target journal.
- How would you advise authors to better navigate and respond to the peer review process, particularly English as a second language (ESL) authors?
A high standard of English grammar and expression is essential for articles submitted to English language journals. Computer spellchecks or grammar checks are inadequate. Authors who are not fully competent in English should seek advice from someone who is; particularly someone who is familiar with their field of research. This is critical; don’t put the reviewers offside by sending them something that is difficult to follow and giving them grounds to criticise your efforts before judging your research.
- As the Editor-in-Chief of a journal, what role do you think journal publication has in science communication?
Publication in peer reviewed journals is still the primary means of communicating research in our field and the choice of journal is critical to maximise the potential for citation. This is still the primary yardstick for academic research performance; hence it is a highly competitive process.
Thank you for the interview, Professor Howe!