Example of PDF article from GMR
Example of PDF article from GMR

Since its founding in 2016 as an outlet for Georgetown University medical students to disseminate research conducted independently or through faculty partnerships, the Georgetown Medical Review (GMR) has rapidly expanded. The fully open-access journal, which is managed by a team of student editors under the leadership of Georgetown University Medical Center faculty Dr. Michael Plankey and Dr. Tomoko Y. Steen, now serves as a growing publication outlet for biomedical students and faculty across the country while remaining a scholarly communication hub for the Georgetown community, featuring clinical case reports, commentaries, original research articles, and reviews.

Scholastica has had the pleasure of working with GMR since 2017, when they moved to our peer review system and fully OA hosting platform to support more streamlined and centralized publishing workflows and article search and indexing, later integrating with Scholastica’s single-source article production service.

In the interview below, Christopher Priestley-Milianta, GMR editor and a fifth-year MD/PhD student at Georgetown University School of Medicine, shares an update on the journal’s progress, how working with Scholastica Production has helped GMR scale over time, and their future publication development goals.

Interview with Christopher Priestley-Milianta

GMR editorial team and faculty advisor Dr. Michael Plankey

Can you share a bit of background about the aims and scope of GMR?

CP: GMR was founded with two goals in mind. One was to promote and highlight the research advances of students and medical faculty at Georgetown because research done by student groups or students and faculty members often doesn’t make it that extra mile to publication. For students who have put a lot of effort into a project, it’s important to highlight their contribution to science and publish noteworthy findings. GMR will even publish negative findings on occasion if the research is well done and scientifically rigorous. The second goal was to offer a venue for medical students to learn the scientific review and publishing process. Our peer reviewers are students who undergo a comprehensive training program to get them ready to do reviews through a Nature master class and some training sessions we hold internally. So, the goal of GMR is twofold, and we maintain those focus areas.

I’ve been involved with the journal since I started medical school five years ago. I’m an MD PhD and was editor-in-chief of GMR until a couple of months ago. Now, I’ve taken a step back to finish off my PhD.

What was GMR’s impetus for using Scholastica’s production service?

CP: As a smaller medical journal and student-run publication, we’re not staffed, nor are any of us able to work on GMR full-time. So our resources are limited, but we are obviously committed to publishing high-quality science that has been rigorously reviewed, professionally formatted, and optimized for discovery. Scholastica’s journal solutions have enabled us to realistically reach all of those goals, so we can maintain the journal and have room to grow. The Scholastica peer review system makes it very easy to coordinate the whole review process and the typesetting from the production service, which directly integrates with our website, has been amazing. We would not be able to format articles and maintain a website by ourselves.

I think the Scholastica Production Service is indispensable for a journal like ours that wants to be focused on publishing science, facilitating reviews, and training reviewers, but not so much on formatting figures and tables, or making XML metadata, and all of those other technical publishing areas that would otherwise require specialized staff and take a lot of time.

How does Scholastica’s production service fit into your overall publishing process?

CP: Scholastica’s solutions are longitudinally integrated into GMR’s whole publishing process. We do plagiarism checks and then facilitate peer review through the Scholastica peer review system, with anywhere from two to four reviewers per paper. Then our associate editors collect the review reports and combine them into a master file for the author with actionable critiques and comments. So, we do a bit of filtering to put together the best comments in a concise and workable manner for the author.

From there, we ask authors of provisionally accepted or revise and resubmit manuscripts to complete revisions and we do additional rounds of peer review as needed. Once a manuscript gets accepted, we work with an external copyediting service and once the EIC has approved their files we forward them to Scholastica for production.

It’s great that Scholastica sends proof emails to our editors and the authors of papers at the same time, so we don’t have any extra steps in terms of communicating with those authors. At that point, Scholastica facilitates the proofing process with authors. The proofs are always very high quality. I’ve never noticed issues like figures being out of the margins or things like that, which tend to happen in manual processes. For example, if I’m working with the office to put together a grant, those types of human errors tend to be common and can slow things up. I would say that 99 percent of the time there is no further action needed on the first journal article proof from Scholastica, so it’s a very streamlined process.

What do you think are the primary benefits of student-run medical journals like GMR?

CP: As MD and PhD students, the goal of GMR’s editors is to bring the medical, scholarly review, and publishing sides of science together. Publishing tends to be a black box for a lot of medical students, and giving them exposure to what it’s like to serve as a journal editor or reviewer early in their training makes it much more likely for them to publish case reports and engage in science later once they become attendings and residents. While we don’t have a lot of time in medical school, there is still more time for these types of extracurriculars than during residency. So, it’s an ideal time to be introduced to the publishing process, which can help lower the barrier to entry.

What are GMR’s primary publication development goals for 2024?

CP: We’re always looking to expand the journal in terms of the number of research publications we put out and the base we’re publishing from. In the past, that base has been limited to Georgetown medical students working in groups or with faculty. But over the past couple of years, we’ve been receiving more submissions from physicians at MedStar, not just from Georgetown but other parts of the D.C. metro area. We’re also getting more submissions from students at other schools and we want to continue that. So, it’s exciting to see papers from all over the world coming in while keeping a focus on medical research happening in the D.C. area. We’re also working to attract more research from students in graduate school programs in the biomedical and life sciences doing translational research applicable to those working in the medical field. So, we’re really focused on growth and reaching more authors and readers.

Scholastica thanks Christopher Priestley-Milianta for taking the time for this interview! We encourage you to visit the Georgetown Medical Review website to learn more about the journal!

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