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Peer-to-Peer: Interview with Dr Vera Lúcia Raposo

29 April 2020

Peer-to-Peer is a series of brief interviews in which successfully published authors share their research and publication experience for the benefit of post-graduate students and early career academics. The series is not supposed to be a comprehensive guide, but rather offers a glimpse into how these individuals approach some aspects of this tricky process.

Dr Vera Lúcia Raposo share’s her thoughts on this and other research and publication challenges in our new series, Peer-to-Peer.

Q: Do you seek to communicate your research findings to non-experts? If so, do you integrate this into your academia-oriented publications, or do you use other channels for informing the public (media, government, etc.)?

A: Everything we write has a purpose: to be read and to be quoted, either by experts in our field or even by non-experts (in our field). I always share my publications on Facebook and Twitter. I also write for some bogs (not all of them in my area of research) and when possible, I include a reference to my publications. I believe that the more visibility the article has the more it will get noticed by the right people.

Q: Some academics find it hard to identify the right target journal to submit to, a problem exacerbated by the number of predatory journals out there, which can sometimes be difficult to spot. Do you have any advice on how to go about this process?

A: If you look for indexed journals (Scopus, Web of Science) you can be guaranteed that they are reliable publications (some of them do not treat potential authors that well, but at least they are not predatory!). Moreover, I usually have as ‘publishing targets’ journals that I have used in my own research. This allows me to be sure of two things: i) they publish good pieces (the ones I used for my research); ii) they are willing to publish papers on my particular topic or at least on similar topics.

Q: The whole publication process can be time-consuming and involve lengthy delays from submission to publication. This is obviously a problem because in the intervening time, other studies can get published that might make research less relevant or even out of date. Is this a big issue in your field, and do you have any comment or opinion on the current process?

A: This is a very concerning problem. Just an example: I had a submission pending for one year and a half… it’s frustrating. The journal did not refuse my paper and without an express refusal I didn’t want to submit it elsewhere (it was a very good journal…). Thankfully, in the end, they finally accepted my paper and afterwards publication was very quick.

If I make any changes necessary through a change of events (a new law, a new judicial decision) I use the final proofs sent by the publisher. Luckily the revisions I have faced so far were never that extensive that it required the rewriting of the entire piece, so I have solved the problem with a new paragraph or a footnote. Nonetheless, the day might come when a paper becomes useless due to a change of circumstances. There is no remedy for that – just be as quick as you can and be ready to start a new paper if necessary.

Q: Finally, do you have any more personal tips to share with our audience?

A: One of the most difficult things is to find a new, interesting, sexy topic. Topics are almost all ‘taken’ by someone else, and most of the authors that came before me did pretty good jobs with their papers. It’s like all has been said before. I think the internet has made it even more difficult in this regard, because so much more information is now available for everyone.

I challenge you to try to look for traditional topics from a new, fresh perspective. Some papers are not about the final conclusion, but about a new perspective. For instance, I am interested in informed consent in Chinese law and in Chinese medical culture, but there is a plethora of papers on that subject, the majority by authors that know much more about the topic than I do (for a start, because they are Chinese and can read Chinese and I cannot). So, I decided to write a paper about informed consent in China from a clear and assumed Western perspective (and I even ‘announced’ that in the title). So, instead of camouflaging my limitations (I am not an expert in Chinese culture, nor in Confucianism, I cannot read Chinese), I decided to take advantage of them. It’s like a cultural fusion: my Western eyes and a Chinese reality. The paper was immediately published (in the first journal to which I submitted) and I already have a couple of quotes in other important journals. 

Researcher Biography

Dr Vera Lúcia Raposo is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law of Macau University, China and an Auxiliary Professor at the Faculty of Law of Coimbra University, Portugal.

Her research interests include Legal Perspectives on Science and Technology, Medical Malpractice and Patient Safety, Patient Rights, Reproductive Rights, Genetics, Pharmaceutical Law, Contracts of Biomedical Law, Evidence in Criminal Law and Human rights and Fundamental Rights.

More details and her extensive publication record can be found here.

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