By Sudhir Kumar Rai, PhD
Designing and conducting experiments are key components of biomedical research. Immortalizing crucial results in research publications carries a lot of backend tasks. One key aspect is the scientific review process. For the past seven years, I have served as a scientific reviewer.
I was raised in Mumbai, India and did my Bachelor of Science at Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, in Microbiology, Biochemistry and Medical Lab Technology. During my Master’s program, I had my first exposure to research at the Bioengineering and Environmental Center (BEEC), Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. I was enthusiastic about experiencing an in-depth research environment. I obtained my Ph.D. in 2012 from the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (MBBT) at Tezpur University, Assam, India.
During my doctoral program, I spent my time going to seminars and reading papers in areas outside my own research. Reading recent articles from several journals gave me a broad idea of current research trends in biomedical research, and traveling to international annual meetings gave me an appreciation for what the field thought was interesting and who was competing to answer the "hot" questions in a given biomedical research area.
Serving as a scientific reviewer
During my doctoral work in protein engineering, biochemistry, and drug formulation, I received an invitation from several international journals to serve as a scientific reviewer and editorial board member. My core responsibility as a reviewer was to examine the submitted manuscript and offer critical comments. On average I received two to three manuscripts in a two-month period. Working with different “flavors” of journals provided valuable information about journal formats and how they obtained reviewer comments.
Some journals provide scientific reviewers with a discount on article submission, or some journals may provide a one month Scopus/Elsevier/Springer subscription for downloading any scientific articles, in addition to the free articles from open access journals. The extra accessibility to research articles is a great resource for universities that have a limited volume of journal subscriptions.
Serving as an editorial board member
Editorial board members act as a backbone for journals. Their tasks mainly involve inviting scientists from around the globe by email to submit their work to the journal. They also encourage submissions by networking with other researchers at scientific conferences and meetings around the world.
Serving as an editorial board member provides the bonus of highlighting my scientific credentials for becoming a leader in my field of interest. Working on different scientific editorial boards allows me to communicate with other scientists, keeping myself updated with the latest biomedical problems and familiarizing myself with a combination of technologies that can address critical questions in my research area, such as in cancer genomics.
Being a budding scientist, I believe myself to be a great learner, and I’m always keen to learn new things every day. I personally feel that volunteering as a scientific reviewer and editorial board member for many journals gives me an enormous opportunity to build a network around the world and a chance to develop collaborations in respective research areas to reach my professional goal and contribute to the scientific development of my country.
If you would like to learn more about being a scientific reviewer and the commitment it entails, I’m happy to chat with you. My contact information is below.
Sudhir Kumar Rai
Visiting Fellow in the basic sciences
Note from the Editor: The journals for which Dr. Rai serves on the editorial board are startup journals. Some of his experiences may differ from larger, well-established journals, which tend to use full-time hired editors or only senior scientists (tenured professor level) on the editorial board. The editorial board members of well-established journals may also play a more intense role in the reviewing and editing process, with a smaller focus on recruiting new submissions to the journal. Activities usually include writing editorials or comments for specific issues of the journal in addition to review work.