Interview with Review Editor Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal

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by Carla Aloe, Frontiersin.org

For Peer Review Week we decided to talk to some of our Review Editors about their experience at Frontiers.

Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal is a Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Houston. He earned his Ph.D. in Cognitive and Neural Systems from Boston University in 1994, and he was previously an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland.

Professor Contreras-Vidal is a Review Editor for Neuroprosthetics, the section cross-listed between Frontiers in Neuroscience and Frontiers in Neurology devoted to the study of brain-machine interfaces and neuroprostheses.

He is also a Topic Editor for Frontiers in Human Neuroscience for the Research Topic Mobile Brain/Body Imaging and the Neuroscience of Art, Innovation and Creativity.

How long have you been a reviewer for Frontiers and what made you decide to be a reviewer for the journal?

I have been a reviewer since July 2011. I joined Frontiers because I believe in open access, transparent and expedited reviewing. Moreover, I find the overall quality of Frontiers journals to be very good.

What do you like about the peer review process at Frontiers?

I really appreciate that Frontiers is open, authors can respond to the constructive criticisms of the reviewers, and that it has one of the fastest review cycles.

At Frontiers, peer reviewers are recognized on the article. Is this important to you as a reviewer and as a reader of research papers? Why or why not?

I think it is important for two purposes: 1) it recognizes the reviewers for their work, and 2) it provides some additional information about the expertise of the reviewer to both the reader and author.

In which way do you think the peer review process can be improved?

I believe it can be improved by selecting both senior and junior reviewers. In my experience, senior reviewers usually bring not only deep expertise in reviewing manuscripts and grants, but also a broader perspective of the research and its potential impacts. On the other hand, junior researchers are usually highly specialized in specific topics, e.g. emerging from their doctoral or postdoctoral work, and they often provide highly detailed and focused reviews.

What do you think are the most important steps to make a good review?

It is important to be constructive and fair, assess the level of significance and novelty of the study and provide clear, actionable criticisms to improve the clarity, and impact of the contribution.


Prof. Contreras-Vidal’s research focuses on: Reverse engineering the brain through computational studies; Designing non-invasive brain-machine interfaces to robotic systems for rehabilitation, enhancement or repair of the motor system after brain or body injury, neurological insults, or advanced aging; Utilizing neural interfaces as tools for reverse-translational studies of brain plasticity and brain-machine interaction/confluence; Developing bio-robotics and powered wearable exoskeletons, and studying creativity and neuroaesthetics using mobile brain-body imaging (MoBI) technology.

More information about Professor Contreras-Vidal’s research can be found at here.

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