Interviews with Outstanding Authors (2022)

Posted On 2022-10-12 17:46:12

In 2022, many authors make outstanding contributions to our journal. Their articles published with us have received very well feedback in the field and stimulate a lot of discussions and new insights among the peers.

Hereby, we would like to highlight some of our outstanding authors who have been making immense efforts in their research fields, with a brief interview of their unique perspectives and insightful views as authors.

Outstanding Authors (2022)

Helle Spindler, Aarhus University, Denmark

Varadraj P. Gurupur, University of Central Florida, USA

Margaret Emerson, University of Nebraska Medical Center, USA

Samantha P. Ruggiero, Ibis Reproductive Health, USA

Kimberly O’Brien, Harvard Medical School, USA

Rizwana Biviji, College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University, USA

Christian King, University of Central Florida, USA

Carinne Brody, Touro University California, USA

Shannon H. Houser,University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA

Outstanding Author

Helle Spindler

Dr. Helle Spindler is an Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at Aarhus University, Denmark, and the chair of the ADiTS research unit. As the author of more than 50 international scientific papers, her research spans from psychotraumatology more broadly, to the impact of psychological factors in cardiovascular diseases more specifically. More recently, Dr. Spindler’s research with cardiac patients has led her into the advancing field of telerehabilitation, and how psychology may inform the future design of cardiac telerehabilitation. Her most recent studies, Future Patient and Future Patient II, are carried out in collaboration with the Laboratory for Welfare Technology, Digital Health and Rehabilitation at Aalborg University, Denmark. As part of this line of research, Dr. Spindler is currently an active partner in the Transatlantic Telehealth Research Network. More information about Dr. Spindler can be found on her personal page.

In Dr. Spindler’s opinion, a good academic paper is clear and precise in its communication. It is well-structured, and in addition to following academic requirement, it also engages the reader by being formulated in a way that is easy to follow, even for those who are not familiar with the specific topic. In other words, it is informative and focuses on key areas of relevance for the topic of the paper. Furthermore, being critical of one’s own perspective and potential biases in understanding one’s data, theory or whatever the focus may be essential. In addition, researchers/scientists should provide clear and solid arguments for their points and discussion based on what is presented, whether this be empirical data or theory.

Academic writers may encounter difficulties in their writing. To Dr. Spindler, the difficulties include being aware of the perspective of readers, and providing a clear and well-structured argument for the conclusion. Often, too many points make it hard to follow the argument; therefore, the main point may be missed or come off too weak. She adds, “Make sure that enough information, background, etc. is provided, but less may sometimes (if not often) be more.

Speaking of critical writing, Dr. Spindler believes that critical writing is not just about being critical for the sake of being critical, but rather focusing on inconsistencies, discrepancies, and flawed methodology or arguments. In other words, scrutinize and evaluate one’s own writing in terms of its academic standards, which is something that one can learn, and will definitely improve over time. Often, doing reviews, or working with experienced academics will provide an opportunity for developing this competence.

Finally, Dr. Spindler says a few words to encourage other academic writers who have been devoting themselves to advancing scientific progress, “Keep the goal in sight, even when it is hard to publish your findings. Progress often requires that we walk a difficult path.

(By Nicole J. Li, Brad Li)

Varadraj P. Gurupur

Dr. Varadraj P. Gurupur, PhD, is currently working as an Associate professor with the School of Global Health Management and Informatics at the University of Central Florida. Dr. Gurupur is a recipient of two international awards, two national awards, and several regional and institutional awards. This includes the prestigious AHIMA Research Award in the year 2017, and the AHIMA Triumph Award for Innovation in 2021. Dr. Gurupur also has worked in the healthcare industry for several years. Based on his work experience and academic training, he is involved in discovering innovative solutions to difficult problems associated with Electronic Health Records. Dr. Gurupur has more than 100 publications which include: edited book, book chapters, journal articles, conference papers, abstracts, and published reviews. Additionally, he has been involved in many research projects funded by the United States Federal government agencies such as National Science Foundation, and National Institutes of Health. You could find more information about Dr. Gurupur on his personal page.

To Dr. Gurupur, a good academic paper must provide key contribution/s to the body of knowledge for a particular academic domain. According to Dr. Gurupur, some of the key essentials of a good academic paper could be as follows:

  1. Identification of a critical problem/s, listing the core objective/s of the discussion or experiment delineated in the article.
  2. Core contributions of the discussion or experiment presented in the article.
  3. If the article is based on experimentation the methods delineated must contribute to the discussion or associated science.

As an author, Dr. Gurupur believes that the core skill set of an author must be the ability to present an idea or experimentation. Other qualities an author should possess include expertise in the field, experience in the field, and the ability to collaborate with other researchers in the field.

Reporting guidelines (e.g. STROBE, CONSORT, PRISMA…etc.) can be helpful during the preparation of manuscripts in some ways. “However, we need to keep in mind that there may not be a perfect formula for manuscript development while keeping in mind that all good advice can help,” says Dr. Gurupur.

(By Nicole J. Li, Brad Li)

Margaret R. Emerson

Dr. Margaret Emerson is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) College of Nursing, USA. She specializes in the delivery of Integrated Care and was one of the first psychiatric nurse practitioners to serve as a psychiatric consultant in the state of Nebraska. Her research incorporates the use of mobile technology along with digital training to improve the care of underserved patient populations and those who experience health disparities. She is a member of the American Psychiatric Association App Advisory Expert Panel ( - Mental Health Apps) and Workforce Director for the Department of Psychiatry at UNMC. She is regularly asked to present and consult for integrated development projects and grants where she highlights the importance of leveraging technology to improve access to psychiatric care. For more information, you may visit Dr. Emerson’s profile and her research page.

mHealth: What are the essential elements of a good academic paper?

Dr. Emerson: Essential elements of a good academic paper will always start with the development of an outstanding team of experts. It’s imperative for us to recognize what our strengths are as individual researchers to ensure our weaknesses or potential deficits can be mitigated through the expertise and collaboration of others. I believe that in working with my research team over the last several years that we each bring a set of skills that together makes for an incredible team that produces amazing results. I am incredibly fortunate to be working with Dr. Watanabe-Galloway, a public health epidemiologist expert, Dr. Danae Dinkel, a qualitative behavioral health researcher, and Dr. David Johnson, a clinical behavioral health provider with expertise in technology. Not to mention I have had the distinct pleasure in working with an ongoing network of motivated research assistants that all bring incredible ideas to the table. So, in my mind, a great paper starts with a great team.

mHealth: What are the qualities an author should possess?

Dr. Emerson: Qualities that an author should possess include perseverance, humility, and courage. Speaking for myself alone, the art of manuscript publishing was a learning curve in itself. Publication required consistent dedication to the craft with an understanding pertaining to the importance of receiving feedback from reviewers across the field. Being somewhat of a “type A” personality, I was not accustomed to the idea of not getting accepted for publication upon immediate submission. In looking back, I find this assumption of mine somewhat humorous now. I think many of us can be discouraged by the idea of not getting immediately accepted and overlook the value of taking the feedback from reviewers and creating what oftentimes is a much better publication by listening to those with experience and those in the field. Shifting to present day, having been involved in submission of numerous manuscripts, I see the benefit and the importance of getting feedback from others and incorporating that into the end product because it makes the final submission so much more. Yet, recognize in doing so you need humility, courage and perseverance.

mHealth: Why do you choose to publish in mHealth?

Dr. Emerson: Choosing to publish in mHealth was an easy decision because it is one of the few journals which directly pertains to the work that we are doing. mHealth is a publication which continues to direct content that informs the practice of incorporating technology within medicine.

mHealth: Why is it important for a research to apply for institutional review board (IRB) approval?

Dr. Emerson: As a fairly new researcher, applying for the IRB approval is a means to ensure our studies take into consideration the risks, benefits and procedures which are instrumental for achieving impactful results. Gathering feedback from those that are regularly conducting or involved in reviewing research is extremely beneficial to bring your attention to things that may have inadvertently overlooked or not communicated in a way that is clear to others. Eliminating this process would be detrimental for all of those reasons but also for the very important reason of ensuring we are protecting vulnerable populations. Not only are we working with underserved populations, but we are also doing so to better understand how technology can be leveraged to improve mental health conditions. Conducting research with vulnerable populations within the integrated environment, as we have been doing for the last several years, presents a number of challenges that the IRB helps to provide guidance on.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

Samantha P. Ruggiero

Samantha P. Ruggiero, MA, is a Project Manager at Ibis Reproductive Health, USA, a global research organization working with partners around the world to design and conduct rigorous research to advance policy and service-delivery solutions that transform people’s reproductive lives. Samantha has published and presented on qualitative and quantitative research related to improving access to high-quality abortion care in the United States and around the globe. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in Eighteenth Century Studies from King’s College London. You may visit Samantha’s LinkedIn page for more information.

One of the challenges of academic writing, in Samantha’s view, is ensuring that study findings are not only accurate and informative, but also accessible to non-academic stakeholders. In addition to disseminating research in academic journals, researchers can reach a wide audience by sharing study findings through a variety of forms, such as fact sheets, briefs, infographics, and social media.

Science advances rapidly day by day. How does Samantha ensure her writing is up-to-date? She explains, “Research partnerships with key stakeholders, such as community-based advocacy organizations, play a critical role in ensuring that studies are relevant and useful to the groups that will be most impacted. At Ibis, we work alongside advocacy groups, abortion providers, and community partners from study conception and design to data collection and dissemination to ensure that the needs of the individuals they serve are centred in our work.

Samantha goes on to share with us a story concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought on significant challenges to abortion access in the United States. With more people being forced to delay obtaining care to travel long distances to care, higher demand for abortion care later in pregnancy is expected, which is difficult to access in the United States. She continues, “To highlight the innovative responses of experts in the fields of reproductive health, rights, and justice, I co-authored a commentary with physicians and practical support providers to provide clinical and support recommendations to expand access to abortion care after 12 weeks’ gestation. The teamwork, expertise, and quick action of all of the authors ensured the timely publication of this piece.”

Lastly, Samantha urges all the other authors to disclose Conflict of Interest (COI) for their work. She believes it is an important step to do for readers to assess potential biases within study reporting.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

Kimberly H. McManama O’Brien

Dr. Kimberly O’Brien, PhD, LICSW, is a Clinical Social Worker in the Sports Medicine Division and Female Athlete Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, as well as a Research Scientist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, USA. Her research focuses on the development and testing of brief interventions for suicidal adolescents with and without substance use and their families, with an additional specialization on interventions which utilize technology. Her recent line of research is examining the psychological resilience of female athletes. She has co-authored over 50 articles and book chapters related to adolescent suicide, substance use, and mental health, and was awarded the Young Investigator Research Award from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2019. To learn more about Dr. O’Brien, you may visit her LinkedIn and profile pages here and here.

A good academic paper, in Dr. O’Brien’s view, is one with strong research methodology that delivers new knowledge or innovation in a clear and concise way. Evidence synthesis is often involved in academic writing, and it takes a long time to synthesize all of the evidence from previous studies to develop a research question to test and analyze. She suggests authors make sure to set aside the time necessary to conduct a comprehensive synthesis, to have rigorous methodological guidelines and a solid organizational structure, and to follow when starting the process.

Seeing the prevalence of data sharing in scientific writing in recent years, Dr. O’Brien deems that authors must always be willing and able to share their data for replicability, but more importantly, in order to uphold the highest ethical standards in science.

Academic writing allows for continual advancement of knowledge about particular phenomena from the perspectives of a diverse group of scholars from around the world, connecting people internationally through problems they are passionate about and committed to solving,” says Dr. O’Brien.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

Rizwana Biviji

Dr. Rizwana Biviji is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Healthcare Systems Program at the College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University, USA. Her research focuses on reducing barriers to high-quality care by evaluating health policies, organizational capacities, and behavioral interventions (including digital health). She also studies consumer behavior patterns and user uptake of digital health tools such as mHealth/eHealth platforms and telemedicine as means to reduce access barriers and improve health outcomes. Her current work focuses on evaluating the network adequacy of pediatric vision care providers in the state of Arizona. Her work has resulted in over 20 peer-reviewed publications which include journal articles, conference papers, research reports, policy briefs and abstracts. Additionally, she has been involved in research projects funded by the United States federal government agencies such as National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. She teaches courses on biostatistics, health disparities, and global healthcare systems at the undergraduate and graduate levels and serves as a faculty mentor on several research projects. Learn more about Dr. Biviji here and connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter

Speaking of a good academic paper, Dr. Biviji considers one that is well formulated, flows logically and is quickly able to fill in the gap within the scientific literature. As a peer reviewer, Dr. Biviji likes to focus on how well written the methodology section is. She explains, “A detailed methodology section that logically delineates all steps taken and provides appropriate reasoning behind these steps such that it can be replicated by other researchers. A good academic paper should be well researched and include important results and conclusions reported by other researchers in your field within the introduction and discussion sections.”

In order to ensure the writing is critical, she recommends authors to go through a thorough peer-review process to ensure that the work being published has been critically appraised by others of repute in the field. She, as an author, values the peer feedback and would ensure to put in utmost effort in incorporating the suggestions to the final work.

Dr. Biviji shares with us that identifying and publishing in the right journal is the most commonly encountered difficulty in academic writing. Oftentimes the manuscript in itself may be really strong but it may not fall within the scope of the journal, which may lead to rejections. Hence, she thinks it is important to critically evaluate the aims of the journal to ensure that the work is being disseminated through the right channels.

For effective time management, Dr. Biviji tries to be consistent by allocating certain hours of her work week towards writing. Her writing efforts increase during the winter and summer breaks when her teaching and service load are relatively less. In addition, she thinks participating in writing groups or writing sprints offered through professional organizations and translational teams has helped carve out uninterrupted times per week to solely focus on academic writing.

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Christian King

Dr. Christian King is an Assistant Professor in the School of Global Health Management and Informatics in the College of Community Innovation and Education at the University of Central Florida, USA. His research interests are related to (a) food insecurity, and (b) health disparities and health care access inequalities. These two areas of research contribute to health disparities and have negative consequences on health. Mitigating these issues would improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities and social inequalities, especially in the most vulnerable families with children. Some of his recent research projects have examined on how neighborhood disadvantages and violence affect prescription drug misuse, mental health, and housing instability. Learn more about Dr. King here.

Speaking of academic writing, Dr. King points out academic research follows the scientific method, which is a rigorous process of doing research and contributing to science. Trained researchers are able to contribute to academic research and writing. He thinks academic writing is important because it has gone through the review process through which other experts in the discipline have judged the worthiness of publication.

During the process of preparation of a paper, there are some issues that authors have to bear in mind. In Dr. King’s opinion, authors have to make their writing and paper accessible to the general public. He further elaborates, “The writing needs to be clear, simple, and free of jargon otherwise the paper will not be widely read. In addition, if the paper is too complex, it may be possible that the main results are misinterpreted and/or taken out of context. And for the writing itself, it is a skill that needs to be practiced for most people (myself included). I spend a lot of time practicing and improving my writing. My manuscripts go through many revisions. For my area of research, I have email notifications in my inbox about new published studies that are close to my research interests.”

Dr. King touches on the topic of Conflicts of Interest (COI) disclosure. He believes it is important because we need to make sure that the authors do not conduct their study with the goal of producing a predetermined result. He elaborates, “COI can influence research and many fields. For example, in biomedical research, if the authors have a financial COI, it may be in their interest to make it appear that a drug or medical device is effective. And politically, it might be in the interest of the researcher(s) to produce research in favor of or against a specific policy. All of those are not favorable to the advancement of science.”

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Carinne Brody

Dr. Carinne Brody is an Associate Professor and the Associate Director of the Public Health Program at Touro University California's (TUC), USA. Her most recent research project aims to develop and test ways to overcome the barriers to access stigmatized health services for hard-to-reach populations. She is the principal investigator (PI) for a community-based intervention that links residents of a diverse California county with mental and behavioral health services through a web-app; the PI of a pilot study examining the effectiveness of an emotional support hotline for victims of gender-based violence in Cambodia. She had also worked for a randomized controlled trial in Cambodia that aimed to link female entertainment workers with sexual and reproductive health services through an SMS-based intervention. She has conducted three large-scale systematic reviews for multilateral foreign aid organizations that focused on measures used to evaluate combination HIV prevention programs, the evidence for reproductive health vouchers and the impact on female empowerment of economic self-help groups. She has a doctorate in public health from UC Berkeley and a joint Master in Public Health and Economic Development from Columbia University in New York. She has been involved with programs and research for governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as foundations in Sri Lanka, Ghana, Haiti, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Cambodia and India.

Speaking of the most commonly encountered difficulty in academic writing, Dr. Brody thinks finding time to really dive into the writing can be challenging when one has to balance teaching, administration, student needs and managing the research projects. What works for her is to find half-day sessions each week to push a writing project forward. She shares, “Sometimes the project is a grant proposal, sometimes it is a manuscript. For grant proposals, I want to be incredibly thorough in my background and methods both for good grantsmanship but also so that I can use that writing later when I am preparing reports or manuscripts. To prepare for a manuscript writing session, I make sure that I have everything I need to move forward including selecting a journal early on so I know the formatting guidelines and getting feedback from co-authors.”

Dr. Brody thinks authors must practice both reading and writing journal articles frequently. She points out academic and scientific writing is formulaic. There is no need to use fancy language – just stick to the facts and frame of the study with the evidence. She mentions another trait for an academic writer is to learn how to work with research assistants as one cannot do it all by oneself. She points out as an example that working with graduate students can be a helpful way to get the background section started. In that way, one does not have to start with a blank sheet of paper. However, from her experience, we have to double check the writing and references done by students and often do our own literature search to fill in gaps.

Dr. Brody further emphasizes that academic authors should have a practice of reading (or a least skimming) the titles and abstracts of articles in the field. Journal digests are an easy way to help accomplish this. She points out if one does not know the direction of the field, it is impossible to position the research. She also recommends authors to find out small, area-specific conference, workshops or meetings to attend as on those occasions, it is often that we can get more relevant feedback or even potential connections for the next project.  Large national conference tends to yield fewer real connections and collaborations because the scope of the field is too broad.

From an author’s perspective, Dr. Brody thinks it is important to follow reporting guidelines (e.g. STROBE, CONSORT, PRISMA, STARD and CARE) during preparation of manuscripts. “They are useful tools and can be applied as a checklist to verify if we have covered all the basis. Submitting the completed checklist may not be necessary but we should have that in mind,” says she.

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Shannon H. Houser

Shannon H. Houser, Ph.D., MPH, RHIA, FAHIMA, is a Professor in the Health Services Administration Department and Graduate Program in Health Informatics, a Senior Scientist in the Center for Clinical and Translational Science, Scholar for Sparkman Center for Global Health of Public Health, and an Associate Scientist in the Center for AIDS Research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA. She has been actively serving in leadership and research roles in health information and informatics, healthcare administration, and public health professions at regional, national, and international levels. She served as a committee member of the National Academy of Medicine Committee to Review Data Systems for Monitoring HIV/AIDS Care and is current president-elect for the state Health Information Management Association. She chairs AHIMA Data Analytics and Data Use Practice Council, and AHIMA Foundation Research Network. In addition to her educator role, Dr. Houser is a very well-published author, presenter, and researcher, and participates in research studies involved in the areas of health information/informatics, healthcare administration, and public health.  She is a recent recipient of AHIMA’s Triumph Research award, Mentor Award, and the Distinguished Leadership Award of AAHIM. Learn more about Dr. Houser here.

Academic writing, in Dr. Houser’s opinion, plays an important role in professional and career development. Publications from an individual’s research work contribute to the field of practice and continually fill the gaps within the body of knowledge for the discipline. It also fulfills the academic requirements and is beneficial for personal promotion and career development.

Critical skills for an author come from basic academic writing skills and excellent communication skills, and the ability to organize and capture the topics with the intent of sharing the knowledge. To Dr. Houser, some of these skills include strong vocabulary, attention to detail, passion for writing, ability to edit repeatedly with persistence and determination, openness for feedback, and always striving for high-quality work. To ensure one’s writing is critical, she suggests authors address only topics that will directly contribute to the production of new knowledge and promote timely growth of the discipline.

Recognition, contribution, and accomplishment are key driving factors for me to do academic writing,” says Dr. Houser.

(By Brad Li, Nicole J. Li)