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Jay C Brown

Jay C Brown

Editor-in-Chief:

Jay C. Brown, PhD
University of Virginia Cancer Center, USA

Read Interview session with Jay C. Brown

 
Interview

1. What makes an article top quality? 

Response: My response here differs in research articles compared to reviews. A top research article needs to address a compelling topic, and it needs to report entirely novel results. It is unusual for an article to meet both criteria. Reporting of novel results, however, is a requirement. If an article presents no novel observations, then no one will read it. Not all articles can address a compelling topic. In the field of virology, for example, a compelling topic would be something like: How does a virus cause disease? What is the immunological response to infection by a virus? Many published articles address topics that are less than compelling, and that is to be expected. Novelty, however, is required. Review articles are quite different. They are all about clarity. No new results are reported in most review articles, so the text needs to hold the reader’s attention without the attraction of novel findings. That means clarity and succinctness. Review articles need to cover a well-defined area of the literature and do so as briefly as possible. The text needs to be clear and constructed so that it holds the reader’s attention. Reviews need to include copious references to the relevant original papers.

2. Do you think that journals determine research trends?

Response: No. I think in most cases research priorities are determined by the funding agencies. Journals reflect research trends after they are already in place. There are exceptions to the above generalization. Some journals choose to publish only articles that represent a sub-set of the topics in a larger field. In this way they would determine research trends to some extent. My experience, however, is that most journals reflect research priorities determined by others.

3. What makes a good position paper?

Response: I am not sure I know what a position paper is. I have never written one or read one.

4. What are the qualities you look for in an article?

Response: Clarity of presentation is my first priority. If I cannot understand the problem the authors are trying to solve or how they are going about it, then I usually do not read any further. My second priority is the degree I am convinced by the authors’ results. Appropriate control experiments need to be done, and I need to be convinced the controls are actually appropriate. Finally, the authors’ interpretations need to accurately describe the meaning of the results. Important results will not have any impact if they are not interpreted in a convincing way. Interpretation of the authors’ results will usually include a description of how the results have moved the field forward.

5. Can you give us a broad indication of the types of themes a scientific journal should cover?

Response: Journals have a unique role to report novel scientific findings. No other medium of communication fulfills this role. A new finding is reported and validated when it is published in a journal. Journals therefore will be attracted to the areas of research that are currently most active. I believe that is appropriate. People are attracted to read journal articles when they want to know the latest results in the most fast-moving fields of science. Currently active fields can usually be identified by attending a conference in the relevant area. Articles published in Science and Nature are a good guide to the content of currently active fields of research.

6. What sorts of research methods and frameworks do you expect people to use, and how will they balance conceptual and applied research?

Response: The methods used in a scientific study need to be appropriate for the measurements to be made. That’s really all that needs to be said here. Use of appropriate methods is a part of what makes a scientific study convincing. It is true, however, that scientific progress often follows and depends on development of novel methods. There is clearly an important place in scientific publishing for the description and use of novel methods. These need to be considered and evaluated like other aspects of a submitted manuscript.

7. How would you describe the journal’s mission and editorial objectives to our readers?

Response: I would say that we cover all aspects of virology with an emphasis on applications for vaccine development and identification of small molecule inhibitors of virus replication.

8. If you could be granted dream articles, what would they be on?

Response: I would like to see papers that describe the identification of small molecule inhibitors of virus replication or novel methods to identify small molecule inhibitors.

9. Are there any particular areas which you would like to see, or expect to see, collaborate?

Response: I would like to continue to see the use of viruses in gene therapy and use of viruses in the field of nanoscience and nanotechnology.

10. How does the research published percolate through to practitioners?

Response: My experience is that transmission to practitioners (e.g. those in pharmaceutical companies) usually occurs by word of mouth. Conferences are great places for this to occur. Investigators and practitioners are both present at the best conferences, and productive exchange of ideas takes place easily and on a large scale.

11. How can a publisher ensure the authors/readers a rigorous peer review and quality control?

Response: That’s tricky. It depends on having a personal relationship with prospective reviewers and editors. Reviewers are busy people and do not get paid for their reviewing activities. Their reward depends on the opportunity to learn about novel findings in their fields. It helps if a prospective reviewer is a personal friend or colleague of the editor.

12. Your editorial policy is to be eclectic and welcome perspectives from other disciplines and schools. How does this translate into the types of contributions you encourage?

Response: I try to encourage all kinds of contributions. JVA needs as many quality papers as possible. I try to encourage anything that is relevant in content.

13. What do you see as the merits of journals, as opposed to book series, as a means of scholarly communications?

Response: Journals are of central importance because of their role in identifying and communicating novel findings. Books don’t do that. No other medium does. People look to journals for access to the latest findings. Books are similar to review articles in that they organize pre-existing knowledge. New findings are reported in journals.

14. How do you differentiate Journal of Virology & Antiviral Research with other journals in the field?

Response: JVA necessarily covers much of the same territory as other journals in the field of virology. I feel it stands out because of its ability to emphasize vaccinology and development of small molecule therapeutics.

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