Interviews with Outstanding Authors (2023)

Posted On 2023-02-13 16:00:02

In 2023, many GS authors make outstanding contributions to our journal. Their articles published with us have received very well feedback in the field and stimulate a lot of discussions and new insights among the peers.

Hereby, we would like to highlight some of our outstanding authors who have been making immense efforts in their research fields, with a brief interview of their unique perspective and insightful view as authors.

Outstanding Authors (2023)

Nicole E. Speck, Plastic Surgery Group, Switzerland

Kyong-Je Woo, Ewha Womans University, Korea

Warren M. Rozen, Faculty of Medicine, Monash University, University

Maria Vernet-Tomás, Breast Diseases Unit, Hospital del Mar, Spain

Michael Bouvet, UC San Diego Health, USA

Julie Crèvecoeur, Center of Senology Drs Crèvecoeur, Belgium

Robert J. Allen Jr, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, USA

Edward Ray, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, USA

Edward H. Nahabet, University of California, USA

Stefania Tuinder, MUMC+ Maastricht, The Netherlands

Sarun Thongvitokomarn, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, Thailand

Naohiro Ishii, International University of Health and Welfare Hospital, Japan

Giacomo Di Filippo, Verona University Hospital, Italy

Dariush Nikkhah, University College London, UK

Outstanding Author

Nicole E. Speck

Dr. Nicole Speck is a fifth-year plastic and reconstructive surgery resident at the University Hospital of Basel, Switzerland. She spent her second year of training with Prof. Jian Farhadi in Zurich, Switzerland, where she became interested in microsurgical breast reconstruction. She researched the influence of perioperative teams on free flap outcomes and developed risk management strategies for patients with hematologic disorders undergoing microsurgical breast reconstruction. Her current research focuses on microsurgery in general, including microsurgical breast reconstruction and, more recently, head and neck reconstruction using the profunda artery perforator (PAP) flap. Connect with Dr. Speck on LinkedIn.

When being asked of the most commonly encountered difficulties in academic writing, Dr. Speck expresses that setting aside time besides the busy clinical work, on-call service and board examination preparation is challenging. Also, establishing a network of co-researchers, statisticians and trial staff may be time-consuming, but is essential and rewarding. Lastly, she points out that receiving funding for data management, statistical analysis or manuscript fees can be difficult.

In order to keep her writing or research work up-to-date, Dr. Speck would actively participate in national and international conferences as well as having regular idea exchanges with peers. She mentions that with the advent of webinars and online transmission of conferences, this has become more feasible than ever.

Speaking of applying the approval of an institutional review board (IRB), Dr. Speck points out that the IRB help ensure the research project is conducted according to ethical standards. Respecting the principles of biomedical ethics – autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, and justice – is essential to maintain the rights and safety of patients or study participants. External review by an independent, interdisciplinary board can also ensure the project is designed properly.

Dr. Speck finally shares that research provides her with the opportunity to deeply immerse herself in a new area, learning much more than just the answer to the primary research question along the way. It ultimately allows her to share the gained knowledge with other researchers, which may eventually benefit patients in clinical practice. These have all become the motivation for her to keep on with academic writing.

(By Masaki Lo, Wei-En Fan)

Kyong-Je Woo

Dr. Kyong-Je Woo is an Associate Professor and the Chief of the Department of Plastic Surgery, Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital, Seoul, Korea. His specialty in clinical practice is breast reconstruction and lymphatic microsurgery, and his recent focus of research is perforator selection and perfusion of DIEP flap for breast reconstruction, lymphatic-venous anastomosis, and vascularized lymph node transfer for upper and lower extremity lymphedema.

Through academic writing, in Dr. Woo’s view, researchers can share up-to-date advances and novel findings of specific field. This will eventually contribute to development of medical knowledge and practice. He explains, “When one writes an academic paper, he/she can learn from other studies regarding certain subject of the study and can be motivated to continue the development of his/her practice. There would be less chance to improve the quality of medical practice without academic writing."

Speaking of the key skill sets of an author, Dr. Woo states that preparation of data is most important in clinical research. Statistical analysis can be done by a statistical specialist, but writing research paper is impossible without data. Most clinical studies need the planning of data collection prior to performing a study. Therefore, he tries to prospectively collect data regarding all surgeries he performed. Keeping reading others' updated papers is also important because it can give new ideas for a new research.

Academic writing takes a lot of time and effort. What motivates Dr. Woo to do so? He shares, “Sharing my study with others in the world is exciting to me. It is challenging to complete clinical study and write a paper, but I feel rewarded once it is published. Writing a paper itself also gives me motivation to keep improving in clinical practice because one of the key elements for improvement is to study and find new things consistently. Also, writing academic papers is an obligation for doctors who work in teaching hospital.”

(By Wei-En Fan, Brad Li)

Warren M. Rozen

Dr. Warren M. Rozen is a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon in Victoria, Australia. He completed undergraduate training at Melbourne University, and completed Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery fellowship training in 2014. He concurrently completed postgraduate research studies in surgical anatomy, achieving both an MD and PhD in applied surgical anatomy. He combines clinical practice with surgical research, and has published over 500 peer-reviewed publications, given over 100 national and international presentations, and is on the editorial board of several international journals. His main research interests are in clinical anatomy, with a focus on reconstructive flaps, vascular imaging and surgical anatomy. He is a lead clinician on several multi-institutional collaborative grants in clinical trials in surgery, and holds an appointment at Monash University as a Clinical Professor, supervising multiple PhD and master students. His other roles include representing a Human Research Ethics Committee, and being the Unit Director of research at Peninsula Health and Eastern Health. Connect with Dr. Rozen on LinkedIn.

Speaking of academic writing, Dr. Rozen points out it plays a critical role in science, as it allows researchers to share their findings with others in a clear and organized way. It helps to build a foundation of knowledge and understanding within a field and allows scientists to build on each other's work. This is essential in the field of surgery - as it allows surgeons to share their experiences and findings with others, learn from each other's successes and failures, and ultimately improve patient outcomes. He expresses, “We as surgeons do not live in bubbles. Our practices are built on the past endeavors of others, and advances will only happen by communicating them with others. Without academic writing, the field of surgery would suffer greatly. Surgeons would have limited access to the latest research, techniques, and best practices, making it difficult to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements. Additionally, academic writing helps to ensure that surgical practices are based on solid evidence and research, rather than anecdotal experiences or outdated methods. This ultimately leads to better patient care and outcomes, as surgeons are able to provide the best possible care based on the latest scientific research. Publish or perish has become the mantra for good reason.

Science advances rapidly day by day. Dr. Rozen says staying on top of current advances and the field is a big aspect of ongoing research. The things he does to achieve this are basically to get access to all the research being done in the field:

  • Stay current with the literature;
  • Attend conferences and workshops;
  • Collaborate and network with colleagues and other experts in the field;
  • Read online journals and media;
  • Discuss with local colleagues through audits and journal clubs.

On the importance of disclosure of Conflict of Interest (COI), Dr. Rozen thinks it helps readers to evaluate the credibility of the research and to understand any potential biases that may exist. This basically helps to maintain transparency and ensure the integrity of the whole research process. In surgical research, there can be financial, professional or personal interests in a particular surgical approach and surgeon researchers may inadvertently be more likely to interpret the data in a way that supports their viewpoint. Journal editors and peer reviewers also play an important role in ensuring that research is conducted and reported ethically and transparently, and they should carefully evaluate any potential COI when reviewing manuscripts.

Dr. Rozen has always found the combination of clinical work and academic exploration and research to be a key factor to career contentment. He adds, “The fact that they are so inter-connected means that it is hard for me to contemplate ignoring one over the other. There are also several facets of academia that particularly entice me: the thrill of discovering new knowledge, sharing that knowledge, and writing has always been a passion of mine too. Not having to worry about things like bedside manner is an added bonus at times!”

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Maria Vernet-Tomás

Dr. Maria Vernet-Tomas is a breast disease specialist and a breast surgeon in Spain. She is the head of the Breast Disease Unit in Hospital del mar, Parc de Salut mar, Spain. She teaches in the Medicine College of Pompeu Fabra University. Her fields or research of interests are mainly axillary surgery and breast cancer prevention. She is a member of several scientific societies as well as the Co-chair of the Spanish and Portuguese Society of Breast Surgeons (in Spanish Asociación Española y Portuguesa de Cirujanos de la Mama, AEPCIMA) and the coordinator of the Surgical Area of the Spanish Group of Breast Cancer Research (in Spanish Grupo Español de Investigación en Cáncer de Mama, GEICAM). She is also a member of the European Society of Breast Cancer Specialists (EUSOMA) and the European Society of Surgical Oncology (ESSO).

During the preparation of a paper, Dr. Vernet-Tomas would recommend reading the literature carefully, identifying good quality trials, meta-analysis and papers on real world evidence. “In surgery, real world evidence is of utmost importance, as clinical trials are frequently difficult to be developed  and to be funded,” says she. And in order to ensure the writing is critical, the paper has to answer the questions we all have in our daily practice and we have to be very objective when evaluating the results of the research; she admits that is not always easy.

From an author’s perspective, Dr. Vernet-Tomas thinks it is important to follow reporting guidelines (e.g. STROBE and CONSORT) as it helps to avoid pitfalls sometimes we are not aware of. She adds, “Standardization is always a good thing, particularly to the exchange of information.

Dr. Vernet-Tomas finally shares an interesting episode with us during her PhD period. She wrote a paper on basic research and sent the paper to a reviewer at her institution; yet the reviewer thought the research was not interesting enough for getting published. She worked hard and rewrote the manuscript and the article was finally published in a quite prestigious journal. She would like to encourage junior academic writers that as long as they work hard on the research and are able to answer questions that other peers are also posing, their  manuscript will be able to get published.

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Michael Bouvet

Dr. Michael Bouvet is the Director of Endocrine Surgery and Professor of Surgery at the University of California San Diego, and the Staff Physician and Senior Clinical Research Investigator at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. He is also a Past President of the International Society for Fluorescence Guided Surgery and co-Director of the Center for Fluorescence Guided Surgery at UCSD. Dr. Bouvet earned his medical degree from University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He then completed a residency in general surgery at UCSD followed by a fellowship in surgical oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Bouvet’s expertise includes performing surgery for benign and cancerous thyroid nodules; parathyroidectomy for hyperparathyroidism, whipple procedures for pancreatic cancer; minimally invasive robotic-assisted esophagectomy; and laparoscopic adrenal surgery. His research focuses on fluorescence-guided surgery for gastrointestinal and endocrine tumors. He has authored more than 450 articles and 35 book chapters. Connect with Dr. Bouvet on Twitter or LinkedIn.

In view of Dr. Bouvet, a good academic paper should have a well-defined research question or objective that sets the context for the study and outlines its purpose. The paper should describe the research methodology clearly and in sufficient detail so that other researchers can replicate the study. It should address any potential biases and limitations. The data and results should be presented in a clear and organized manner. And the authors should bear in mind that the paper includes figures, tables, and graphs that enhance the understanding of the data or concepts presented during the preparation and submission.

Dr. Bouvet emphasizes that applying for Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval is crucial for any research involving human subjects, as it ensures that the research is conducted ethically and with the safety and well-being of the participants in mind. Conducting research without proper ethical oversight can put participants at risk.

Moreover, Dr. Bouvet shares his skills of allocating time to write papers, “I try to allocate specific time slots for writing each week. I also collaborate with colleagues or co-authors to share the workload. Delegating specific tasks can lighten the burden of writing and data analysis.”

(By Inga Chung, Brad Li) 

Julie Crèvecoeur

Dr. Julie Crèvecoeur is a doctor of biology (PhD) and has performed a post-doctoral research for three years at the University of Liège. She then decided to join the Center of Senology Drs Crèvecoeur, a private medical center for breast cancer screening and treatment, managing the center, patient care and clinical studies for 10 years. Dr. Crèvecoeur works closely with the breast clinic at CHC Montlegia for the surgical management of patients. She also completed a postgraduate diploma in oncogenetics at the University of Paris and the Institut Curie. She has also been providing genetic consultations for patients in whom they suspect a familial genetic predisposition. Dr. Crèvecoeur currently has two research projects underway. The first concerns the use of Magseed® magnetic marker to localize non-palpable breast lesions and validate its efficacy for patients who require neoadjuvant treatment. The second project is the MyPeBS, an international EU-funded clinical study that evaluates a new breast cancer screening strategy. Connect with Dr. Crèvecoeur on LinkedIn.

From Dr. Crèvecoeur’s perspective, the essential element of a good academic paper is an excellent design for the research study, with a reflection on the contribution of this study to the clinical practice. One needs to ensure that it has a positive impact for both the practitioner and the patient. It also allows one to test new technologies that will improve his/her professional practice. A good paper can also foster communication among peers, especially when it is presented at scientific conferences and meetings. Many of Dr. Crèvecoeur’s projects were launched following discussions with her peers at conferences.

Dr. Crèvecoeur holds that following reporting guidelines during preparation of manuscripts is important. To her, STROBE is a very interesting tool, for example. This enables one to draw up a checklist of all the items one needs to process and ensures accurate reporting and transparency for reviewers and readers from the scientific community.

Moreover, Dr. Crèvecoeur thinks that the most difficult part in academic writing is the amount of time one can devote to it. She explains, “This applies particularly to me as I work in a private center. We don't have the opportunity to receive subsidies for our research. There needs to be more interaction and partnership between the private sector and academia. In addition to our professional activities, we also have our private lives. Unfortunately, unforeseen circumstances can put us in a difficult position when it comes to completing our projects or manuscripts. In research, I think we tend to forget that.

In order to allocate time to write papers, Dr. Crèvecoeur tries to do one project at a time and avoid doing too much research and spreading herself too thin. “To optimise my work as much as possible, I'm very meticulous about the way I collect data. As soon as a patient agrees to take part in the study, I encode all the data I need and regularly check that the data are being collected as I go along. In this way, the files containing the data are always up to date and as soon as we need to use them they are complete and correctly filled in,” she adds.

(By Inga Chung, Brad Li)

Robert J. Allen Jr

Robert J. Allen Jr (right) and his mom, Linda Perry Allen (left)

Dr. Robert J. Allen Jr is a board-certified Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, USA. He attended the Medical University of South Carolina for medical school to pursue a research fellowship at NYU’s Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Laboratory. He received training at NYU for his plastic surgery residency. Following residency, he completed a fellowship in Microsurgery at the world-renowned Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan before returning to NYC and MSKCC in February 2016. His journey to this point was largely influenced by his father, Dr. Robert J. Allen, Sr., who is the preeminent leader in autologous breast reconstruction in the world, having been the first to describe the DIEP flap for this purpose. Dr. Allen Jr has been in practice for 7 years, during which he has focused his clinical practice and research endeavors to the clinical and patient-reported outcomes as well as patient satisfaction in both Breast and Head and Neck oncologic reconstruction. To this effect, Dr. Allen Jr hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps and further advance the field of autologous reconstruction for cancer patients of the future.

Seeing the important role academic writing plays in science, Dr. Allen Jr thinks that there is a science in all things that one does, or that there should be to maintain best practices for the patients. Academic writing is the proof of this science in real time. While it is always helpful to review one’s outcomes, the inherent bias of his own results necessitates the peer-review process, which frequently pushes the science of work forward. Without academic writing, one’s experience and influence is limited and the greater good of all patients suffers. It is absolutely essential to share one’s experiences with the rest of the scientific community to continue to advance one’s knowledge and expertise so that all patients benefit.

Speaking of the most commonly encountered difficulties during academic writing, Dr. Allen Jr says, “‘The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.’- My Heaton Vorse to Sinclair Lewis in 1911. During my time as a research fellow from 2007-2009, this quote was brought up by the lab manager, and I cannot agree more. Writing takes patience, time and dedication. The hardest thing for me is taking the time to sit down, be in the moment and thoughtfully put the history, data, results together in an organized manner that seamlessly supports my conclusions to the reader.

Furthermore, Dr. Allen Jr stresses that it is critical to follow reporting guidelines (e.g., STROBE, CONSORT, etc.) during preparation of a paper, for they have been put in place to improve the scientific process and guide both researchers and readers on the strength of their scientific conclusions. Not all studies are created equal with the randomized controlled trials being the gold standard. This is not to say that other study designs like case series or observational studies do not have their place in the literature because they most certainly do. However, these guidelines are an excellent resource in ensuring that the best evidence is used in treating one’s patients.

Finally, Dr. Allen Jr further shares his point of view upon academic writing, “I always find the beginning of the journey in academic writing to be the most fun. The pioneers in reconstructive surgery has to overcome so many obstacles to care for their patients, and the evolution of this process is so enlightening. My father likes to say, ‘There is nothing new under the sun.’ This is taken from Ecclesiastes 1:9 in the Old Testament - ‘What has been will be again, and what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.’ Such a fun quote, especially in the field of Plastic Surgery, where personal expression and surgeon preference are the names of the game. While we all aim to be pioneers, we cannot fully grasp where we are going unless we understand where we all come from.

(By Inga Chung, Brad Li)

Edward Ray

Edward Ray, MD, is an Associate Professor of Surgery and Director of the Microsurgery Fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, USA. He is board-certified in both General Surgery and Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and completed a Microsurgery Fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. His research focus includes the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve problems in diagnosis and management of reconstructive surgical problems such as lymphedema, craniofacial surgery, and breast reconstruction. He also has an interest in technology and innovation, developing novel mobile applications for specific needs within the plastic surgery community. His clinical focus includes both breast reconstruction and gender-affirming surgery, serving as the director of gender-affirming plastic surgery.

A good academic paper, to Dr. Ray, should either succinctly address a specific question or offer a novel idea that will help surgeons rethink their approach to a given problem or patient. In either case, it is essential that the paper includes (1) a convincing rationale regarding the relevance of the manuscript to the current state of medical science and (2) a reproducible and understandable description of the techniques used to draw the final conclusion. These are all important components of a scientific paper meant to educate the readers and advance the science of medicine.

Dr. Ray points out the key to critical writing is to remove as many assumptions as possible. To do this, the writer should start with their clinical question and the method they intend to use to answer it. Ask as many questions as reasonably possible to dissect apart the method to find its flaws, which usually means assumptions or variables that have not been factored in. He further explains, “For example, to analyze a particular type of breast reconstruction compared to another method, one might compare the outcomes of the two patient cohorts. One should seek ways that these two groups might be dissimilar besides the technique used, and control for these. Such variables might include age, BMI, history of radiation, smoking status, and comorbidities. Still more variables such as whether there were different breast surgeons and plastic surgeons involved in each group might be considered as important factors. Finally, does the size of the cohort(s) justify the claims that the findings have achieved the power needed to make relevant conclusions?”

Data sharing is prevalent in scientific writing in recent years. Dr. Ray thinks the best science comes from open and transparent analysis of data. “This ensures reproducibility and allows for peer review of not just the digested data and conclusions, but the methods used to achieve those ends,” says he.

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Edward H. Nahabet

Dr. Edward Nahabet is an Assistant Clinical Professor in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of California, Los Angeles. He also has an appointment at the West Los Angeles VA. He received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University. He completed both his Plastic Surgery Residency and Microsurgery Fellowship training at UCLA. He specializes in breast, lower extremity, and head and neck reconstruction in addition to aesthetic surgery of the face and body. Beyond his clinical pursuits, Dr. Nahabet is passionate about enhancing medical education through technology, particularly making use of digital platforms. Learn more about him here and follow him on Instagram.

A good academic paper, in Dr. Nahabet’s opinion, is comprehensive, clear, and concise. It reflects the most relevant and current information pertaining to the research question, and it provides results backed by appropriate statistical analysis and effectively communicates the significance of its findings. As a surgeon, he finds finding the dedicated time for each critical component of the writing process the most challenging aspect. Securing uninterrupted periods for a meticulous literature review, detailed description of findings, and articulating expression of their importance is crucial. He adds, “By segmenting these phases over an extended period, I can engage deeply with each stage, ensuring the paper is both comprehensive and well-structured. The key lies in finding the time amidst a demanding clinical schedule.”

In the dynamic world of science and medicine, it is imperative to remain current with the rapid advancements in the field. As a researcher and clinician in plastic and reconstructive surgery, Dr. Nahabet is committed to ensuring that his academic writing reflects the latest developments and addresses the most relevant questions. This commitment is not solely academic; it directly impacts the quality of patient care he provides. To stay informed, he regularly consults key journals in his specialty, integrating new research findings and perspectives into his work. This practice allows him to contribute novel insights and perspectives to the field, while also keeping his clinical practices aligned with the most recent and effective techniques. To him, the dynamic between his clinical experiences and academic endeavors creates a continuous learning cycle, enriching both his patient care and research contributions.

The evolution towards data sharing and an ‘open-source’ approach in research, according to Dr. Nahabet, has several benefits. First, transparency and reproducibility are foundational principles of scientific integrity. Sharing research data openly allows other scientists to validate and replicate findings, which is essential in building a robust and trustworthy body of scientific knowledge. This practice enhances the credibility of the research and the researchers involved, fostering a culture of openness and reliability in the scientific community. Second, the concept of resource optimization is central to the efficiency of scientific progress. Data collection is often an extensive and resource-intensive endeavor. By sharing data, we ensure that the valuable information gleaned from one study can be utilized to its fullest extent, potentially aiding other research projects, and preventing duplication of efforts. This not only maximizes the impact of the original research but also accelerates the pace of discovery and innovation. Additionally, if we could somehow incentivize, the sharing of data from studies that may not have yielded significant findings or those considered 'unpublishable' we could further avoid unknowingly duplicating efforts on similar projects, thereby saving time and resources. It is a step towards a more cohesive and collaborative scientific community where even 'negative' results contribute to the collective understanding and guide future research directions. In conclusion, he strongly believes that data sharing is not just crucial but also a responsibility for authors. It embodies the principles of transparency, efficiency, and collaboration, all of which are vital for the rapid and ethical advancement of our field.

(by Brad Li, Zhixin Xie)

Stefania M. H. Tuinder

Stefania Tuinder, born in Luino (Italy), started the specialty of plastic and reconstructive surgery in Varese. After a microsurgery fellowship in Maastricht, she has been working as a staff member at MUMC+ Maastricht since 2007. In 2014, she obtained her PhD in Maastricht. She won several scholarships with which she traveled the world to refine the surgical technique and create international collaborations. Her clinical and research activity is currently focused on microsurgical reconstruction of head and neck (in particular facial palsy reconstructions) and breast. Over the years, she has developed various autologous breast reconstruction techniques and since 2012, she has been leading the world's most important line of research on breast sensitivity with more than one billion four hundred thousand euros of European funding. Dr. Tuinder is the author of more than 70 indexed articles and several chapters in international books.

GS: What are the essential elements of a good academic paper?

Dr. Tuinder: To the best of my knowledge, there aren't strict rules for defining a good academic paper. However, there are general principles. In my opinion, the most important point is that an academic paper typically aims to convey a message to the scientific community; it's intended to share experiences, problems, and solutions to enhance the global standard of care. It is not meant to showcase personal successes but rather to present new insights to the scientific community in an honest manner. In my view, there is a lack of published failures in academic papers.

GS: Academic writing often involves evidence synthesis. Can you share tips on selecting the appropriate evidence for synthesis and analysis?

Dr. Tuinder: When selecting evidence for synthesis and analysis in academic writing, I think that some points have to be considered: 1) The information you include have to be relevant, addressing the research question. So the key point is to have a clear goal of your research. 2) Reliability of your data is fundamental: the team working, collecting and elaborating data with you is very important. 3) Comparison with peer-reviewed data is also fundamental.

GS: The burden of being a scientist/doctor is heavy. How do you allocate time to write papers?

Dr. Tuinder: Questions and goals for research usually come from clinical work. As a consequence, a good clinical work is the first step to create interesting questions for research. To fulfill the goal for research, it is very important to create, around you, a scientific team able to help collect data and elaborate them. For sure, it remains difficult to find a balance between clinical and scientific work.

(by Brad Li, Zhixin Xie)

Sarun Thongvitokomarn

Dr. Thongvitokomarn is an oncoplastic breast surgeon at the Queen Sirikit Centre for Breast Cancer (QSCBC), King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. He graduated with a medical degree and board of general surgery from Chulalongkorn University and the Royal College of Surgeons, Thailand. After practicing as a general surgeon for two years, he further studied abroad in breast surgical oncology at Saitama International Medical Center, Japan and worked as a clinical fellow in oncoplastic surgery at Oxford University Hospital, UK. His main interests include nodal management in breast cancer and oncoplastic surgery for conserving the patient's breast. Additionally, he is interested in clinical research, including gene expression assays for luminal breast cancer. Connect with Dr. Thongvitokomarn on LinkedIn.

In viewing a good academic paper, Dr. Thongvitokomarn thinks the essential elements should include both good research questions and organized methodology, which also covers good reporting guidelines. Data collection, statistical analysis and the clinical application of the results are also important. Speaking in depth of reporting guidelines, he thinks they are beneficial for researchers, reviewers, and readers. Guidelines give standardization which helps researchers recognize the strengths and weaknesses of a study. They also guide the proper methodology and essential outcomes and discussions.

Dr. Thongvitokomarn shares with us that he mainly conducts clinical research rather than basic research. One of the main reasons is that all the clinical research questions arise from current clinical practices. He adds, “In my role as an oncoplastic breast surgeon, I am occasionally curious about the unanswered questions in specific topics related to breast cancer. This curiosity leads me to review the literature, contributing to the formulation of research questions.”

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Naohiro Ishii

Dr. Ishii graduated from Keio University School of Medicine with his medical doctorate in 1999 and obtained his Ph.D. degree in 2016. Since 2017, he has been appointed as a Professor in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the International University of Health and Welfare Hospital, Japan. He has his specialized fields and academic interests both in clinical and basic research for breast reconstruction, lymphedema, head and neck reconstruction, extremities reconstruction, abdominal wall reconstruction, microsurgery, ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery. He serves as an editorial board member of multiple academic journals and has authored or co-authored many articles on plastic and reconstructive surgery. Learn more about Dr. Ishii from Research Map.

For an academic paper to be positively evaluated, Dr. Ishii points out that the study design, novelty, and argument of the paper must be clear; the development of the argument must proceed smoothly; and the content must be easily understandable. In addition, it is important for the paper to be informative and that the readers seek to make use of this knowledge for reference purposes. He emphasizes that the paper should never be self-indulgent and should be prepared from the readers’ perspective. The writers have to bear in mind that they are required to create a well-organized paper with a clear message. He thinks that even if the content is the same, a consistent writing style can completely change the evaluation.

Dr. Ishii moves on with the idea of research novelty of which he deems to be a very important aspect of writing a dissertation. He finds it essential to closely compare one’s own research with previous studies in order to highlight the novelty. He uses PubMed as his main search site. He would set several keywords and perform multiple searches to check all the articles related to his research. By extracting the high-quality articles and using them as a basis for writing papers, he would be able to identify content that has been elucidated to date and content that is unexplored and thus highly beneficial to further elucidate. He also finds it important to regularly read through papers related to his field of research in order to gain new insights into the research field.

Working at a university hospital, Dr. Ishii is responsible for clinical work, basic and clinical research, and education of students and young doctors. He is required to show the results of his research in a tangible form (for example, in conference presentations or papers). He thinks papers being published in publications are his best-evaluated achievements. To be able to publish high-quality papers itself is a kind of motivation for him to continue being an academic writer. In addition, he enjoys the satisfaction of being able to contribute to the society as the papers can give insights to other research or even medical treatment in clinical practice. “It is especially gratifying when my paper is being cited elsewhere,” say he.

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Giacomo Di Filippo

Dr. Giacomo Di Filippo is currently an Attending Endocrine Surgeon at Verona University Hospital within its Endocrine Surgery Unit in Italy. He completed his undergraduate training in 2015 and concluded his Residency in General Surgery in 2021. Throughout his professional journey, he has explored diverse surgical and scientific research fields, by acquiring advanced training across Europe, while serving as the principal investigator for several international clinical surgery research projects. His fields of expertise are endocrine surgery and clinical ultrasound. Currently, his focus lies in pioneering minimally invasive techniques in endocrine surgery and exploring the integration of predictive artificial intelligence in the management of thyroid cancer. Connect with Dr. Di Filippo on LinkedIn.

Academic writing, according to Dr. Di Filippo, is the core of scholarly communication, allowing knowledge to be shared, critical thinking to flourish, and academic discussions to take shape. He thinks its role in documenting research discoveries, exchanging ideas, and expanding upon existing knowledge is crucial within the global academic community. To guarantee the significance of his writing, he actively connects with the most current research, participates in conferences, and engages in internationally recognized meetings of renowned surgical societies. This dynamic involvement enables him to integrate fresh perspectives and make valuable contributions to the ongoing dialogue in his area of study.

Maintaining transparency in research is crucial and disclosing any Conflicts of Interest (COI) is a vital ethical obligation,” shares Dr. Di Filippo. He believes it is imperative for authors to openly communicate any potential biases or financial interests that may affect their work. He further elaborates, “By doing so, trust is established, enabling readers to objectively evaluate the research. While the level of COI influence may differ, acknowledging it is essential in upholding the integrity and credibility of scientific research.”

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Dariush Nikkhah

Dr. Nikkhah is an Honorary Lecturer at University College London (UCL), UK. He had been trained in London in Plastic and Reconstructive surgery. He has worked in some renowned centres for reconstructive microsurgery which is the focus of much of his work. He has got the experience of travelling to Australia for a Fellowship in Microvascular surgery. He had been a consultant plastic surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for the past five years. His job is unique as it involves the treatment of all types of complex reconstructive cases of the breast, face and hand. In 2023, he and his team performed 52 free flaps in the full spectrum of plastic surgery without a reconstructive failure. He has an active interest in improving outcomes for patients who undergo microsurgical breast reconstruction. He has also recently edited a book with Springer Nature named Core Techniques in Reconstructive Microsurgery: A Stepwise Guide. This book provides a guide to most modern workhorse flaps in microsurgery. Connect with Dr. Nikkhah on LinkedIn.

Speaking of the roles that academic writing play in science, Dr. Nikkhah thinks it is important to improve researchers’ results and patient outcomes. “I have been publishing work since 2010 in the field of plastic surgery. Many of my papers have helped improve the lives of my patients,” shares he.

During the research process, Dr. Nikkhah tries to perform long term follow-up of his patients and also collaborates with colleagues from neighboring NHS units to increase patient numbers for research papers. He points out that it is challenging to do randomized trials in Plastic Surgery, however, this is the best way to avoid biases. He works with the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and UCL and he has co-supervised trials. “High-quality research involves using a good database. This enables one to compare previous data and audit outcomes,” says he. He also tries to write in open access journals as this encourages collaboration with other research groups. He believes that if researchers share data, patient outcomes would be improved.

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)