Celebrating Editorial Impact: Editorial Fellowship equips early career researchers with journal publishing experience

The Source
By: Guest contributor, Thu May 23 2024

Author: Guest contributor

Springer Nature celebrates and recognises our editors and teams for their achievements in editorial board development, journal growth, increasing diversity, and more. In a new blog series, based on inspirational contributions from the 2023 Celebrating Editorial Impact event, editors-in-chief from across Springer Nature share exciting and innovative initiatives they are pursuing, the journey to implementing them, and the impact these have had on their journals and communities.

In today’s post, Editor-in-Chief of npj Digital Medicine Joseph C. Kvedar, MD shares how his own experience as a novice researcher decades ago motivated him to launch the npj Digital Medicine Editorial Fellowship in 2021. The Editorial Fellowship provides clinical and academic trainees the unique opportunity to learn and experience the workings and operations of a high-impact journal in an exciting and rapidly evolving field.

Most early career researchers get little to no training on journal publishing, although it is an essential part of what we do as scientists; I know this from my own experience. When you’re just starting out – as a graduate student, a postdoc, or junior Principal Investigator – the journals landscape can be quite challenging to read and navigate.

In setting up the npj Digital Medicine Editorial Fellowship, I wanted to create a structured and holistic learning experience for early career researchers that introduces them to journal publishing: How journals operate, how researchers and clinicians can be involved, how to prepare a manuscript for submission, how to provide support and feedback as peer reviewers, and so on.

How the Editorial Fellowship came about

Alongside my work as a clinical dermatologist, I also have an academic interest in digital health and telemedicine, which I have been exploring for 30 years. That’s how I found myself in the role of Editor-in-Chief of npj Digital Medicine. The four years since I took this role have been such a fun ride, and the journal has been growing rapidly.

But in the formative years of my career, I knew little about journal publication. In fact, my mentor encouraged me to spend my time doing experiments, and not much else. So, I received really no training in essential aspects of publishing, such as how to critically review a paper or how to participate in the editorial experience.

The catalyst to creating the Editorial Fellowship was Jayson Marwaha, who later became our first Editorial Fellow. He reached out to me, in my capacity as Editor-in-Chief of npj Digital Medicine, asking whether he could participate in the working of the journal to learn about journal publishing, having recognised the value this could have for his own academic development.

I thought it would be an excellent idea to get early career researchers exposed to the “behind the scenes” of a scientific journal. Together with Wanda Layman, the founding Managing Editor of npj Digital Medicine, we created this Fellowship, managed by myself and the journal’s Senior Managing Editor, Tillie Cryer. The Fellowship, which encourages early career researchers to gain an appreciation of the editorial process, has now been adopted by Springer Nature, and the formal application process begins in the summer.

What do Editorial Fellows do?

The one-year Editorial Fellowship is made up of three phases, that cover the main facets of the publication process:

  • Peer review

This phase involves peer reviewing manuscripts under the guidance and supervision of the journal’s editorial board members. The fellows learn to write high quality, thoughtful, and constructive reviews; to critically think about science; and to offer authors useful feedback on their papers. Fellows are expected to complete at least two reviews per month.

  • Editorials

In this phase, fellows learn editorial writing. Being able to explain complicated science in plain terms that anyone can read and understand is a critical skill. Here the focus is on highlighting important work that has been recently published in the journal, and clearly communicating it.
With the help of the editorial board, the fellows identify impactful work published in the journal and write editorials that make the findings of these studies and their real-world utility accessible to a wider audience beyond the traditional readership of the journal. Fellows are expected to write approximately 2-3 editorials in this phase.

  • Operations

The final phase of the Fellowship involves contributing to the journal’s operations. Joining the weekly calls between myself and the journal’s managing editor about journal operations, the fellows are encouraged to identify areas where the journal or its processes can be improved and come up with projects to explore these. Proposals can address the quality and efficiency of the peer review process, expanding the journal’s scope to new readers, suggesting new types of content, and so on.

Invaluable experience for the Editorial Fellows

We have already completed two full fellowships and are currently in the midst of the third. Jethro Kwong, MD, our third and current Editorial Fellow, is due to complete the programme this summer.

The first two fellows to have concluded their fellowship, Jayson S. Marwaha, MD (2021-2022) and Mirja Mittermaier, MD, MBI (2022-2023), have both written about their experience as npj Digital Medicine Editorial Fellows, and their enthusiasm about this opportunity and how impactful it was for them is truly encouraging.

Reflecting on their experience, both Jayson and Mirja shared that before starting the Fellowship, they had no idea what was happening behind the scenes of a journal once a manuscript was submitted. This resonates strongly with my own experience back when I was starting out in research.

The Fellowship, both Jayson and Mirja agree, demystified how journals prioritise topics and evaluate manuscripts, how reviewers are identified, and how they make their work timely and relevant. Both former fellows found that their experience was invaluable for their work as researchers and helped them grow and improve their skills.

P_npj Digital Medicine Editorial Fellows © Springer Nature 2024

“The npj Digital Medicine Fellowship was an incredible catalyst in opening new academic, industry, and clinical opportunities for me” - Jayson S. Marwaha, MD

“The Fellowship was an invaluable, inspiring, and transformative time at the forefront of Digital Health. It has allowed me to significantly develop in many areas crucial for an academic career as a physician and researcher” - Mirja Mittermaier, MD, MBI

Initiating, establishing, and running the npj Digital Medicine Editorial Fellowship has been a fun process for me. I think this is an invaluable opportunity for early career researchers, that gives them the training they need to become meaningful members of their research community.

Want to find out more about initiatives that make journals more accessible, impactful, and inclusive? Check out the 2023 Celebrating Editorial Impact event, which showcased contributions from Springer Nature editors-in-chief about exciting strategies and projects like the Editorial Fellowship.

2023 Celebrating Editorial Impact

P_Professor Joseph Kvedar © Springer Nature 2024
About the author

Dr. Joseph Kvedar is Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School, Past Chair of the Board of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), and Editor-in-chief of npj Digital Medicine. He is co-chair of the American Medical Association's (AMA) Digital Medicine Payment Advisory Group (DMPAG), which works to ensure widespread coverage of telehealth and remote patient monitoring, and successfully established several new provider codes for telehealth reimbursement through the CPT process. Dr. Kvedar is also a member of the AAMC’s (Association of American Medical Colleges) telehealth committee, creating tools that will enable medical schools and residency programs to integrate telehealth into the training of future practitioners. He is the author of two books on digital health: The Internet of Healthy Things and The New Mobile Age: How Technology Will Extend the Healthspan and Optimize the Lifespan.


Author: Guest contributor

Guest Contributors include Springer Nature staff and authors, industry experts, society partners, and many others. If you are interested in being a Guest Contributor, please contact us via email: thesource@springernature.com.