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Susan Chang on Serving as Editor-in-Chief for Neuro-Oncology

UCSF neuro-oncologist Susan Chang, MD

Last March, the Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) and Oxford University Press named UCSF neuro-oncologist Susan Chang, MD, Editor-in-Chief of its flagship journal Neuro-Oncology. Since then, she has overseen an increase in the journal’s impact factor from 13.029 to 15.9, making it among the most influential journals in clinical neurology and oncology.

She also helped launch SNO’s Editorial Scholars Program to offer training on the peer-review process and mentoring to early career researchers. The program recruited its first cohort of 18 junior faculty members in July.

We spoke with Dr. Chang about her role, SNO’s educational mission, and the landscape of scientific publishing.

What motivated you to start the Editorial Scholars Program?

There is no question that scientific publishing benefits many stakeholders – the field and neuro-oncology community, publishers and sponsors, authors, reviewers, the editorial team and, of course, the patient. Some of the biggest challenges in scientific publishing that junior faculty often face include not having the appropriate training and time to dedicate to the review process and not having knowledge of the publishing enterprise. Personally, I did not have an opportunity to learn about the publishing enterprise except through my positions as Editor-in-Chief for both Neuro-Oncology Practice and Neuro-Oncology. Similarly, I learned about the peer review process informally.

I have two major goals for the program: to provide opportunities for early career investigators to engage in the publishing enterprise and to enhance their skills as peer reviewers. I think being a good reviewer will translate into being a better writer and contributes immensely to enhancing the overall quality of the work that is published. Ultimately, I want to foster the next generation of investigators to be engaged in the publishing enterprise so we can continue to publish high impact papers that advance the field.

What have been some highlights of the program so far?

The interest in the program from the editorial team and mentors and the enthusiasm from applicants has been the greatest highlight. Fifty-one people applied, which was an unexpected and fantastic start to an inaugural program. We thought the first class would consist of about 10 scholars, but because the response to the announcement was so positive, we have 18 scholars this year.

UCSF neuro-oncologist Susan Chang, MD, sitting at a conference table with early career investigators
In her role as Editor-in-Chief of Neuro-Oncology, UCSF neuro-oncologist Susan Chang, MD, is raising the impact factor of the journal and spearheading a new educational initiative for early-career faculty. She recently led a session in September at the European Association for Neuro-Oncology in Rotterdam for early career investigators discussing the Editor's perspective on peer review.

What do you feel is most contributing to the program’s success?

The need I think is great, as well as the interest in understanding and contributing to the journal. The willingness of the editorial team to serve as mentors for one-on-one training is also a major draw.

How would you like to see the program grow in the next year?

I would like to expand to all major disciplines in neuro-oncology and across diverse early career investigators, so we can ensure that we have experienced reviewers for all the areas in which research is conducted. Articles in Neuro-Oncology span basic science, clinical, and translational research in both adult and pediatric populations. As our multidisciplinary field continues to grow, we need experts to be engaged in the process. For example, this year we added expertise in pediatric neuro-oncology, cancer neuroscience and artificial intelligence to the editorial board. We need the program to continue to support investigators with a multitude of perspectives.