Editor in a (60-second) spotlight – Professor Brendan Kelly
- What inspired your career in research?
I was always interested in medicine and in becoming a psychiatrist. After my medical degree, I went on to do a PhD in law owing to the very clear connection between psychiatry, the law, and human rights. I now spend half my time seeing patients and the other half engaged in research directly related to patient care, especially the protection of the human rights of people with mental illness.
- How would you describe a typical working day?
Every day of my life I wake up fully at 5.30am or 6am, and work for a couple of hours on the computer. On a working day, I then either see patients in my outpatient clinic or in the psychiatry inpatient unit where I work, in Tallaght Hospital in Dublin. In the afternoons, I generally answer emails, read papers submitted to the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, or work on my own research. In my spare time I like to go to the cinema and to cycle. I spend enormous amounts of time at the cinema.
- How do you measure success in your work?
I like to see my patients recover from episodes of mental illness, and, academically, I like to write papers and books. Publishing is an art and a craft as much as it is a science. There is great satisfaction in crafting a good paper, or watching an author submit a paper, respond to reviewers, and then publish a good piece of work. That's what I like best.
- Do you have any particular advice for younger researchers?
Learn to touch type. Drop everything else you are doing and learn to touch type. With computers, many aspects of research have become much easier, but the skill of typing remains central. Young researchers should attend old-style typing lessons and learn to type without looking at the key board. This is now the single most important skill for young researchers.
- What drove you to become an editor?
I became an editor at the age of nine years when I co-founded a school magazine. Since then, I’ve edited many publications and I've always enjoyed helping authors shape their work to suit the needs of their audience. Seeing that connection happen is wonderful.
- What is the most rewarding aspect of editorial work for you and what do you find difficult about the role?
The most rewarding aspect of editorial work is watching an author re-write a paper to integrate reviewers' comments, and producing a better paper as a result. The most difficult part is explaining to authors that their paper is not progressing well because of very fixable problems such as the structure, sequence, flow of the paper. Usually, the substance is fine, but if authors cannot produce an improved manuscript, it can be hard to accept a paper.
- What is the most important attribute in your opinion for being an editor?
Patience is vital, and a willingness to seek out what is good in a paper and trying to get the authors to build on that, rather than focusing on the weak elements.
- Name one item/tool/resource that you cannot do without in your editorial role?
My laptop is my constant companion and allows me to continue my editorial work wherever I am: waiting for someone to show up, sitting in an airport, in my office, etc.
- What would you be doing now if you were not a professor?
I always wanted to be either a psychiatrist or an economist. I still would not mind being an economist, although the prospects of this are receding.
- What would you like to see more of in IJLP?
I'd like to see more papers submitted from Africa, Asia and South America. We're a global journal and we receive submissions from all corners of the planet, but I'd really love to see more submissions from these locations.
I am Professor of Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin and Consultant Psychiatrist at Tallaght Hospital in Dublin. I am interested in mental health care and the law, and the history of psychiatry. In addition to my medical degree (MB BCh BAO), I have master’s degrees in epidemiology (MSc), healthcare management (MA) and Buddhist studies (MA); and doctorates in medicine (MD), history (PhD), governance (DGov) and law (PhD). I have a cat, Trixie, who loves ice cream.