Career Tips & Advice

Reviewer profile – Dr. Ann M Dellinger

Dr. Dellinger, PhD, MPH, touches on everything from thoughtful reviews to tap dancing in our regular Q&A

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Dr. Ann DellingerDr. Ann M Dellinger, PhD, MPH, serves as Chief of the Home, Recreation and Transportation Safety Branch at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There she oversees the older adult falls, sports and road safety work of the Center.

Dr. Dellinger currently conducts several studies in the area of motor vehicle safety focusing on older drivers, child occupant and pedestrian injury, injury risk behavior and international road safety. She consults with domestic and international organizations including the US Transportation Research Board, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). She serves on the Editorial Board of Traffic Injury Prevention

Dr. Dellinger is the recipient of the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary's Awards for Distinguished Service for assistance during the Oklahoma City bombing (1997) and the World Trade Center/Anthrax Investigation Emergency Response Team (2002).

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1. What do you enjoy most about being a reviewer?
I enjoy learning about the research going on outside my agency.

2. In the time that you've been a reviewer, what trends have you noticed?
Rising volume.The request for reviews continues to increase and I don't see that changing. 

3. How do you envision the role of the reviewer being different in the year 2020?
I think the systems will get more efficient. Well, I hope the systems will get more efficient. With more and more papers being submitted, at some point the current processes we use to provide reviews will not be sustainable. 

4. What advice would you give to a new reviewer?
Be helpful. You can give critical feedback in a way that lets the authors know there is a problem (even a methodologically fatal problem) without being mean. If you're having a bad day it is not a good time to provide a review.

5. What would you change about the peer-review process if you could?
Papers that are poorly written or out of scope of the journal should not get to reviewers. This will increase efficiency. Some journals do a better job of screening than others.

6. What do you think people would find most surprising about your role as a reviewer?
How long it takes me to do a thorough, thoughtful review. I appreciate it so much when I get a thoughtful review, I want to do the same for others.

7. How do you balance your role as a reviewer with your other roles?
I've begun to decline reviewer invitations more often than I have in the past given the frequency of requests. I have to fit reviews in when I can during the day or after work or on weekends. Balance is a goal that has not been achieved.

8. What is your favorite quote?
I don't have a single favorite, but here is a good one:"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education". Martin Luther King Jr.

9. What do you like to do for fun?
Reading, movies, gardening, ceramics, tap dancing…this list is getting too long.

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