Interviews with Outstanding Authors (2024)

Posted On 2024-04-08 17:48:06

In 2024, 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 (2024)

Courtney Monroe, University of South Carolina, USA

Gabrielle Salvatore, Rowan University, USA

Danielle Hazime, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, USA

Gianluca De Leo, Augusta University, USA

Nikola Kirilov, The Heidelberg University Hospital, Germany

Soyoung Choi, The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, USA

Outstanding Author

Courtney M. Monroe

Dr. Courtney Monroe is an Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina (USC), USA, in the Arnold School of Public Health's Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior and a faculty member in the Technology Center to Promote Healthy Lifestyles. She is a certified American College of Sports Medicine exercise physiologist and behavioral scientist with expertise in the design, implementation, and evaluation of electronic and mobile health technology-based behavioral interventions targeting physical activity for chronic disease prevention in adults. She has leveraged various technologies as intervention delivery mediums and assessment tools, including websites, social media, smartphone apps, and wearable physical activity trackers. Her most recent projects have focused on leveraging gamification to activate social support for physical activity promotion among insufficiently active adults. Her work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, and she has earned recognition by USC for her research mentorship in science and technology. Connect with Dr. Monroe on Twitter/X @MonroeMovement.

mHealth: What do you regard as a good academic paper?

Dr. Monroe: A good academic paper is characterized by several important features. It is reflective of a well-conducted and ethical study, meaning it addresses at least one significant gap in the existing evidence in a way that is innovative and methodologically sound. It acknowledges limitations and conveys both practical implications of study findings and ideas for future research. From a stylistic perspective, it also tells a cohesive and compelling story, from the contextualization of the public health issue and specific research question(s) to the interpretation of the findings and overarching implications.

mHealth: Science advances rapidly day by day. How do you ensure your writing is up-to-date and can give new insights to the field of research?

Dr. Monroe: I use several practical strategies to ensure I stay up to date on the evidence in my field and subsequently generate, study, and communicate research ideas that are novel, timely, and significant. I have retained knowledge of numerous studies that I acquired inherently by conducting research over time in my field. As new evidence emerges, I am constantly considering how it relates to that existing knowledge base while also determining how I can help the field advance. I stay abreast of the latest research and technological advancements not only by conducting literature searches via respected search tools and attending professional meetings but also by scanning popular press and social media posts. My students and collaborators help with these tasks. Ideas for how to address persistent issues in my field of study in ways that will yield new insights can be inspired by this established and emerging evidence we come across, as well as by formative work with the target population of interest. Ideas can also be inspired by slightly unconventional ways (e.g., conversations with professionals and laypersons outside of the field, learning about approaches meant to solve completely different issues that might have relevancy for my research area, etc.). As technological capabilities continue to advance (e.g., artificial intelligence), it will be interesting to see its impact on research as a whole.

mHealth: What is fascinating about academic writing?

Dr. Monroe: Academic writing is fascinating because it follows certain scientific conventions while also allowing for creative expression. It is fun to determine how best to situate a study within a larger body of evidence and know that it is contributing to the advancement of a field in a way that will collectively result in a real-world impact. If done well, academic writing can reach and influence a variety of persons, including emerging and established scientists, journalists, and laypersons. It contributes to new discoveries, helps inform and inspire future research and policies, supports advocacy efforts, and holds a place in the arc of an ever-evolving scientific field in perpetuity.

(by Brad Li, Alisa Lu)

Gabrielle M. Salvatore

Dr. Gabrielle Salvatore is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Clinical Health and Social Experiences (CHASE) Lab at the Department of Psychology at Rowan University. She received her Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology from Springfield College. Her research program is focused on women’s health and the development and testing of health promotion interventions for women, with a specific interest in examining temporal relations between women’s menstrual cycle experiences and their physical activity cognitions and behaviors in the natural environment. She is interested in the use of mHealth to promote PA among this group to ensure physical activity promotion interventions are accessible and optimized in daily life and that findings are applicable to the large and heterogenous population of women at risk for cardiometabolic and cardiovascular-related chronic conditions. Connect with her on Twitter/X @GSalvatore0923.

Dr. Salvatore believes a good academic paper has a structure that supports readability. It is important for the message to be clear and concise, and the content is easily dissectible by the journal’s intended audience as well as those without content-level expertise. As a reader, she tries to make sense of the research question herself by attempting to understand who the target audience is, that there is sufficient information in the methods section to ensure replication, and that the interpretation of the results is convincing. In her opinion, a good paper does not make the reader extrapolate, avoiding broad claims about study significance without sufficient evidence.

Science advances rapidly day by day. Dr. Salvatore admits that it could be overwhelming to stay up to date with science, especially when one sets up too many alerts in his/her email inbox. In her own practice, she has found it helpful to set up article alerts for keywords related to her line of research. It is also beneficial to create an online research network using social media, like X, LinkedIn, or ResearchGate, to stay up to date with researchers and academic journals that align with one’s research interests – she often sees academic journals share news of manuscripts that are in-press, researchers sharing news of grant funding or pre-prints, and even opportunities for professional development on topics like academic writing or peer review. She adds, “Most importantly, communicate what your interests are or what projects you are working on – both internally, to members of your research team and institution, as well as externally at scientific meetings. When others know what your research interests are, they can alert you of papers or ongoing projects that you may not have otherwise known about!

Finding time to devote to the writing process or idea conceptualization can be critical – and you don’t have to do it alone! It is often easy to procrastinate or fill your time doing other things, but keeping yourself accountable, orally to your mentor or lab members, through an accountability buddy, or even a writing group can be very beneficial. I have recognized that if I do not block my calendar for writing time, it will not get done as I am balancing data collection, participant interaction, and other day-to-day tasks as a postdoc. My goal is to make at least one writing appointment for myself each week at a time when I know I can think clearly. When it is scheduled on my calendar ahead of time, and I think about it as an appointment, I am able to advance my scientific progress,” says Dr. Salvatore.

(by Brad Li, Alisa Lu)

Danielle Hazime

Danielle Hazime is a clinical research coordinator at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, USA. She is a double graduate of the University of Southern California, holding a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Health Administration. In fall 2024, she will begin pursuing a Doctor of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Danielle’s research interests focus on bridging gaps in access to care and advancing work that addresses the needs of historically marginalized communities. Her research experience includes studying outcomes for bariatric surgery in Brazil, investigating healthcare fraud in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Federal Trade Commission, and implementing a mobile health curriculum for patients with diabetes who come from Hispanic/Latine and low-socioeconomic backgrounds. She is currently involved in a nationwide weight management study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, which is notable for having one of the most diverse patient populations in this field. As she embarks on her journey to a career as a physician, Danielle is particularly passionate about exploring the intersection of health equity and surgical care. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Danielle points out the following essential elements of a good academic paper, including clarity, transparency, and methodological rigor. A strong academic paper should begin with a clear research question and a well-defined hypothesis. The methodology must be meticulously detailed, encompassing study design, sample size, selection criteria, and statistical methods used, and addressing potential sources of bias or confounding variables. Transparency in reporting results is also crucial to avoid publication bias and misleading conclusions; this involves presenting all data, including negative or null findings, and providing a thorough analysis of the results. Furthermore, authors should include raw data when possible, or at least comprehensive summaries and visualizations, to facilitate verification and further research. The discussion should critically evaluate the findings in the context of existing literature, acknowledging limitations and suggesting avenues for further research. Ultimately, the paper should contribute meaningful, evidence-based insights to its field, adhering to ethical standards and promoting scientific integrity.

Danielle believes that authors must be mindful of several critical factors during the preparation of a paper. While scientific rigor and precision are foundational to a strong academic paper, it is equally important to be aware of the evolving standards of acceptable and inclusive language. The language used should not only convey complex ideas clearly but also respect and reflect the diversity of the research community and the populations studied. Authors should strive to use inclusive terminology, avoid biased or outdated expressions, and be sensitive to cultural, gender, and socio-economic differences. This mindful approach to language not only enhances the readability and accessibility of the paper but also aligns with the ethical standards of respect and equity in academic research. Balancing scientific rigor with inclusivity ensures that research contributes positively to the academic discourse and broader societal understanding.

To all the dedicated academic writers out there, your commitment to advancing scientific progress is truly commendable. Your work is the cornerstone of innovation and knowledge, driving forward our understanding of the world and improving lives in countless ways. Remember, every challenge you face in your research and writing is a step toward a greater discovery. Stay curious, persistent, and passionate. The road may be tough, but the impact of your contributions is far-reaching. Keep pushing boundaries, questioning the status quo, and striving for excellence. Your efforts are not only building your legacy but also paving the way for future generations of scholars and researchers,” says Danielle.

(by Sasa Zhu, Brad Li)

Gianluca De Leo

Dr. Gianluca De Leo is the inaugural Chair of the Health Management, Economics and Policy Department at the School of Public Health at Augusta University. He received an MS in Electronic Engineering in 1999 and a PhD in Bioengineering and Bioelectronics in 2003 from the University of Genova (Italy). He also received an MBA from Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, MO in 2005. Dr. De Leo was involved in several projects related to e-health, health informatics, biomedical informatics, and virtual reality, which were funded by the Italian Ministry of Health, the European Commission, Microsoft Research, the Virginia Center on Aging and several SBIR/STTR programs. He has designed and led the development of several e-health systems such as an automated telephone call center for the education and monitoring of patients with diabetes, a game-based virtual environment for helping children with cerebral palsy to walk on a treadmill, and an app for increasing the communication skills for children with communication disabilities. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the United States Department of Defense and the National Institute of Health have supported his research in innovation in public health innovation, communication disabilities and telemedicine. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Speaking of the importance of academic writing, Dr. De Leo thinks publishing in reputable journals like mHealth is becoming more critical than years ago when there were fewer publication outlets. Especially in the healthcare sector, open access allows the results obtained in research projects to be shared not only among researchers but also among providers, granting best practices to reach the population in need faster.

From Dr. De Leo’s perspective, starting with a well-designed literature review is crucial for generating valuable new knowledge, addressing real problems, and offering fresh insights. He also believes that research studies that report failures or not-too-promising results should be published more often so that the research community can learn from other researchers’ mistakes.

I find academic writing a method to interact with other researchers across the world. This is a stimulating environment where you can appreciate the diversity of thoughts. Seeing your research published in reputable journals gives you the energy to start working on a new paper,” says Dr. De Leo.

(by Sasa Zhu, Brad Li)

Nikola Kirilov

Dr. Nikola Kirilov is a research scientist at the Institute of Medical Informatics at the Heidelberg University Hospital in Germany. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering and a Master’s degree in Medical Informatics from Sofia University, Bulgaria. His areas of research include electronic health records (EHRs), network communication and data delivery. Dr. Kirilov’s research interests focus on EHR Representational State Transfer Application Programming Interfaces (RESTful APIs), network protocols and real-time data delivery. The current project he is working on is developing real-time data solutions to enhance mHealth, clinical decision support and clinical research. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Dr. Kirilov believes that academic writing should be easily understandable, and the ability to quickly grasp the idea of a paper is crucial. The process certainly depends on the reader, but there are ways to make a paper reach more people. In the first place, the title should make it clear which research question the manuscript is trying to answer. The abstract is usually the second element to be seen. The word limit makes it almost impossible to summarize the whole work, but it should at least let the reader know if the paper contains the desired research. The abstract plays a decisive role in continuing to read the full text. Furthermore, reporting the results in a structured manner with the appropriate tables and figures is crucial. Writing a conclusion which underlines the most important aspects of the results and discussion is of utmost importance. Last but not least, the methods section should provide the reading scientist with enough information to be able to repeat the experiment if he or she wishes to.

In Dr. Kirilov’s view, the most important skills of an author are patience and consistency. A manuscript is a result of performing a daily routine consistently, which could be compared to exercising as results are not immediately visible. Carrying on writing without getting discouraged by slow progress is a valuable skill and a recipe for success. The completed manuscript is the result of patient and consistent work.

When writing my recent work, I was struggling to find articles to cite. We are always taught that to write a manuscript we need to find and cite a substantial number of previously published papers on the topic. Being a pioneer in a field makes it difficult and could fill you with doubt. Despite that, my research attracted the interest of my peers and stimulated a lot of discussion. The lesson I learned is: that failing to find similar research should not dissuade you from writing and publishing. In the end, innovation and new ideas are what make science unique,” says Dr. Kirilov.

(by Sasa Zhu, Brad Li)

Soyoung Choi

Dr. Soyoung Choi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She also contributes as a faculty affiliate to the university’s Personalized Nutrition Initiative, Informatics Program, and Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. As an internationally certified accessibility expert (CPACC), Dr. Choi directs the Accessible Healthcare Lab, leading innovative research aimed at developing an inclusive health promotion system tailored for individuals with visual impairments. Her research harnesses AI technology and personal health informatics to enhance the health and well-being of this group. She underscores the importance of addressing the barriers within the health system, which she identifies as crucial for mitigating health disparities and inequalities. More information about her profile can be found here.

In Dr. Choi’s view, a good academic paper serves as a means through which scientists can communicate scientific methods that address research problems related to enhancing human quality of life. The primary reason, as scientists, writing is to present arguments based on factual evidence, which then undergo scrutiny and validation by other scientists, ultimately aiming for practical application in real life. For productive scientific communication, authors must present their findings in a trustworthy and understandable manner for all. This involves sharing data and detailing the research process to enable other scientists to replicate our results. She adds it also requires presenting the data analysis process in a transparent way that can be repeated. Particularly in mobile health (mHealth), it is crucial to provide a clear description of the developed systems and to publish transparent analyses of both quantitative and qualitative assessments related to the experiential validation of user interactions with new mHealth systems.

Speaking of avoiding biases in one’s writing, Dr. Choi states it is challenging to completely exclude subjectivity when reporting and interpreting research findings, and it is inevitably influenced by personal perspectives. As someone who is still an early career researcher, she is continuously contemplating and learning about scientific writing. She shares, “While it may be difficult to provide a perfect answer to this question, I can discuss my personal approach. I always ensure that our research team undergoes a peer-review process. During manuscript preparation, we meticulously review our work and share our opinions. I particularly recommend collaborative writing with senior researchers or seeking their review of the final draft for scientists who are relatively new to research. Having others read and evaluate my work is a process I consider essential.”

Dr. Choi would like to say a few words to encourage other writers, “While writing academic research articles may not always be enjoyable, we must embrace the process out of a duty to disseminate the scientific findings we uncover. Recently, the advancement of AI technology, which can write on behalf of humans, assists our work but also raises concerns. There are times when I feel a sense of skepticism about the diminishing process of rigorous human thought and expression through writing. Nonetheless, because we must continuously engage in scientific writing, setting aside dedicated time each day to focus solely on writing about my research could be a beneficial routine to establish.”

(by Sasa Zhu, Brad Li)