Joining Gastroenterology as an editorial fellow is an invaluable experience for the future scientific career. When I joined the fellowship, my main objectives were to learn important aspects about scientific publishing, while improving my editorial and writing skills. Importantly, participating in the fellowship would allow me to determine fields in gastroenterology and hepatology that need more intensive research, evaluate and review manuscripts submitted to a high-impact journal, learn which aspects are important for manuscripts to be considered for publication, and learn how to prepare concise summaries to share with readers. As an editorial fellow, I would not only work with experts on manuscript review and editing, but also be mentored by experts in the field to prepare for a career in scientific publishing.
The application process is easy and straightforward. A curriculum vitae, motivation letter, and conflict of interest form are needed to be considered for the position. Furthermore, a letter of recommendation has to be provided from senior faculty. For the latter, it is beneficial to have worked with someone who is currently active in scientific publishing.
After joining the editorial board, fellows are assigned to associate editors based on their previous experience. Fellows are expected to peer-review manuscripts and discuss their reviews with the associate editors during a brief call or by email, where it is also determined whether additional feedback from the board of editors is needed to move manuscripts forward. If so, fellows are given the opportunity to present manuscripts they reviewed to the editorial board and prepare the decision letter with comments to the authors and editors. This experience teaches which qualities manuscripts need to fulfill to be considered for publication, and how to communicate decisions to authors. During the meetings with the editorial board, fellows are also encouraged to provide feedback for additional manuscripts discussed.
Additionally, fellows have the chance to work on the “Covering the Cover” section of the journal under close mentorship of the responsible editors. Here, they learn to draft short synopses of submitted manuscripts that should be highlighted in the respective sections to give readers a brief overview of important pieces of research with potential clinical applicability. This experience teaches how to write concisely and rephrase the main message of manuscripts without overstating findings and conclusions. Additionally, fellows are invited to write commentaries on recent articles published in other journals and highlight these to Gastroenterology’s readership. This experience teaches how to critically comment on published literature and point out its strengths and limitations. Overall, these learning experiences improve not only editorial and writing skills, but also knowledge in the respective areas of research.
Finally, fellows have the opportunity to write a commentary about a topic of their choice. This experience allows fellows to deepen their expertise in an area of research on an emerging topic they would like to highlight to their readers. Since this type of article is peer reviewed, reviewers’ comments help identify weaknesses of the initially submitted manuscript and increase the awareness about factors that need to be addressed to finally provide a high-quality article that is of value to Gastroenterology’s readership.
Concluding, being an editorial fellow for Gastroenterology is an extremely valuable experience. From an editorial aspect, fellows learn to review, summarize, and comment on submitted manuscripts, as well as which factors need to be addressed by manuscripts to be considered for publication to a high-impact journal. Additionally, fellows network with leaders in the field and expand their knowledge on topics they had not worked on previously. Overall, the fellowship helps improve editorial and writing skills, while staying current in the literature, a skill set that can be applied broadly in the future medical and scientific career.
Dr. Kefalakes is a clinical fellow and research group leader in the department of gastroenterology, hepatology, and endocrinology at Hannover (Germany) Medical School. She has nothing to declare.