Reviewer profile - Dr. Rafael Rosell

Dr. Rosell reflects on the current peer-review process and considers how it might change in the future

Dr. Rafael RosellDr. Rafael Rosell is Director of the Cancer Biology and Precision Medicine Program at the Catalan Institute of Oncology, Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol (Badalona, Barcelona, Spain), as well as Founder and President of both the Molecular Oncology Research Foundation (Barcelona) and the Spanish Lung Cancer Group (SLCG). His contributions to translational medical oncology, with particular emphasis on the field of non-small-cell lung cancer with EGFR mutations, have earned him international recognition. The innovative work of Dr. Rosell’s multidisciplinary team has long focused on the design and selection of personalized cancer treatments based on genetic analysis and characterization of each patient’s tumor in order to optimize outcomes to treatment.


1. What do you enjoy most about being a reviewer?
The great privilege to learn upfront about novel findings in cancer research, especially in the field of cancer biology, since it is one of the most inspiring ways to augment your own ability to generate new ideas and potential clinical applications.

2. In the time that you've been a reviewer, what trends have you noticed?
There have not been too many differences, although we have to concede that the amount of journals and information in biomedicine has grown incessantly. Therefore, the main change is having the opportunity to review more biologically or pre-clinically orientated studies.

3. How do you envisage the role of the reviewer being different in the year 2020?
Since the changes have been evolving so rapidly it is difficult to predict what will happen in 2020. There is no unique class of reviewer and there are many different types of journals, some with great dissemination, (like weekly medical journals and their “sisters” that are more focused on the reception of clinical studies designed by pharmaceutical firms). Phase II and Phase III clinical trials warrant fulfillment of many administrative and regulatory rules, and such studies should still be required in the upcoming years. However, in my opinion, the role and privilege of a reviewer is to have the opportunity to enjoy science in an “up close” manner. Having the unique privilege to read, review and assume responsibility for the “raw” manuscript is very exciting. I can envisage that the discrimination and constructive criticisms will become more complex since studies are becoming more multidisciplinary, including some new ones like bioengineering, bioinformatics, chemistry and others. Therefore, in the future, perhaps a new class of reviewers should be created with new reviewer guidelines, or even a multidisciplinary review team based on the integrated work presented in some of the studies.

4. What advice would you give to a new reviewer?
Never become angry. Sometimes there is the temptation to invest too much passion in the criticisms, but they should always be constructive. However, at the same time, it is important to never lose the passion and curiosity for reading. It is crucial to be humble and recognize your own limitations of knowledge.

5. What would you change about the peer-review process if you could?
The current system is quite good; however, it is becoming more difficult for the editor to make accurate judgments about manuscripts that have attracted contradictory reviewer opinions. Frankly, I have no exact answer to this point. I assume that many expert editors understand what I mean.

6. What do you think people would find most surprising about your role as a reviewer?
Since the role is anonymous, I believe the reviewer himself receives a great surprise every time he is invited to review exceptional papers.

7. How do you balance your role as a reviewer with your other roles?
The best way is to invest free time in fulfilling the reviewer function correctly. I invest a lot of time in the late evening and during entire weekends.

8. What is your favorite quote?
Perseverance, enthusiasm and gratitude will bring you the fruits of life.

9. What do you like to do for fun?
I like to read scientific articles, do laboratory research and help others.

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