ASCO Journals Editorial Fellowship

Equipping Oncologists to Raise the Quality of Published Research on a Global Scale

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Scientific journals are a cornerstone of medical knowledge, delivering information about the latest research discoveries to the medical professionals who will put them into practice. Once a manuscript is submitted, a journal editor guides it through peer review, extensive editing, and publication. This task carries tremendous weight—and it’s not simple. The ASCO Journals Editorial Fellowship provides a clear introductory path for early-career oncologists to learn the fine points of the complex editorial process and develop the skills to be future leaders in scientific publishing. 

The Editorial Fellowship program, open to oncology fellows (or local equivalents), gives participants the opportunity to work closely with one of ASCO’s five journals: the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO), Journal of Global Oncology (JGO), Journal of Oncology Practice (JOP), JCO Precision Oncology, and JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics. Fellows gain insight by shadowing experienced editors, and they learn the characteristics of well-conducted research; the written communication style that makes a manuscript worthy of publication; and how to detect flaws in areas such as design, statistical analysis, and data interpretation.

Throughout the course of the fellowship, participants complete ASCO University® online modules, review select manuscripts in consultation with editors, take part in editors’ conference calls, and complete final projects that demonstrate the knowledge gained in the program. The fellowship covers the cost of attending the ASCO Annual Meeting, where Editorial Fellows participate in the onsite journal editors’ meeting and learn more about each journal, upcoming topics of focus, and challenges and goals for the coming year. Upon completion of the program, fellows are prepared to pass on the knowledge they learned to their colleagues and to take on the role of formal reviewers for ASCO journals.

Sarah Yentz, MD, of the University of Michigan, a 2018 JCO Editorial Fellow, decided to apply to the fellowship to develop her skills as a reviewer and learn more about the publication process. Reviewing and editing manuscripts was not a formal part of Dr. Yentz’s oncology fellowship education, yet she recognized that these skills would be an integral part of furthering her career as an academic oncologist. 

“I am very fortunate to have been chosen for the program,” Dr. Yentz said. “I learned that the fate of some articles is decided by the associate editors and/or Editor-in-Chief, whereas others are sent out for review to get more opinions. I learned about the editorial phone calls where editors can discuss questionable articles in greater depth, the process of author rebuttal, and how to be more specific in my reviews. I learned to think critically about whether articles are truly practice-changing or simply hypothesis-generating.”

To Dr. Yentz, the most valuable aspect of the Editorial Fellowship experience was the insight she gained through one-on-one calls with JCO Editor-in-Chief Stephen A. Cannistra, MD, FASCO. “I learned a great deal from Dr. Cannistra about what he looks for in a review and how to convey one’s opinions to authors,” Dr. Yentz said. “He devoted a great deal of time to reading my reviews and discussing them with me so I could improve my skills as a reviewer.”

Raafat Alameddine, MD, of the University of Montreal, was selected as a 2018 JGO Editorial Fellow, and like Dr. Yentz, he recognized that proficient medical writing and editing skills would shape his professional development. Originally from Beirut, Lebanon, Dr. Alameddine also saw a deep need to raise regional standards of research and publishing and viewed the fellowship program as a way to bring this knowledge home. 

“The JGO Editorial Fellowship helped me acquire a global insight of the current research efforts in other parts of the world,” Dr. Alameddine said. “I was inspired by the determination of scholars across the globe to present research undertaken in developing countries and was highly impressed by the caliber of manuscripts submitted to the journal from underresourced areas. I gained access to a global community of motivated oncologists who face similar challenges and share the same interests in promoting research in their home countries.”

During his time as an Editorial Fellow, Dr. Alameddine found value in learning to look at the manuscript publication process from the editor’s perspective. “I have learned from world-renowned mentors how to critically appraise submitted material and have been supported by helpful production staff who provided me with valuable resources and reading material,” he said.

Paulo Gustavo Bergerot, MD, of the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, was also selected as a 2018 JGO Editorial Fellow and considers the experience a powerful turning point in his career. Dr. Bergerot is originally from Brazil, where he identified a need to integrate a strong academic foundation into clinical oncology practice. “This is currently a rare paradigm in Brazil, and in my point of view, these skills are almost mandatory for the academic oncologist,” he said. 

During their fellowship, Drs. Bergerot and Alameddine worked closely with JGO Editor-in-Chief Gilberto de Lima Lopes, Jr, MD, MBA, FAMS. “Dr. Lopes is an impressive mentor with fantastic clinical and research expertise who has a singular ability to translate all this knowledge to his mentees,” Dr. Bergerot said.

Dr. Yentz, Dr. Alameddine, and Dr. Bergerot all recommended the ASCO Journals Editorial Fellowship to young oncologists across the cancer care continuum. “The fellowship is an opportunity to hone editing skills, network with young international peers who share similar interests, and collaborate in the future in advancing global research in oncology,” Dr. Alameddine said. “Through this program, ASCO confirms its commitment to globally refining the standards of research.”

The application period for the 2019 Editorial Fellowship opens this month. E-mail for more information. ■

The ASCO Journals Editorial Fellowship is funded (in part) by the Conquer Cancer Mission Endowment Fund.

Originally published in ASCO Connection. © American Society of Clinical Oncology. “ASCO Journals Editorial Fellowship.” ASCO Connection, September 2018. All rights reserved.