A panel discussion on a stage

Meet The Lancet: Prestigious Journal Sits Down With Our Researchers

February 28, 2023

A contingent from The Lancet visited the Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) campus on February 23 to meet with faculty and students to learn about their research and offer up advice on publication. Columbia Mailman faculty and doctoral students were among those taking part in 15-minute “soft pitch” sessions with editors and executives from the prestigious journal and publishing group.

a man sitting at a table speaking to a woman and a man gestures while speaking

Merlin Chowkwanyun speaks to members of The Lancet contingent

In a series of simultaneous table sessions, researchers sat down with two members of The Lancet contingent. Journal representatives peppered investigators with questions about research methods, goals, and the potential impact of their findings. They also offered advice on how to tailor their articles for publication in one or more of the Lancet Group’s 24 publications, including its famous flagship journal, which is marking its 200th anniversary this year. A panel discussion between the journal's editors and CUIMC faculty followed.

Among public health topics covered in the pitch sessions were menstrual health and hygiene, migrant food security, opioid overdose risk, structural racism, and the use of omics in the laboratory to shed light on myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome.

Merlin Chowkwanyun, a public health historian in the Columbia Mailman Department of Sociomedical Sciences, sat down with Dan Erkes, Senior Editor for The Lancet, and Fiona Macnab, deputy publishing director at The Lancet Group, to pitch his idea for an article on fractures in expert consensus that have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Says Chowkwonyun: “Journals, in my experience, have particular characteristics they want in certain kinds of articles, yet authors often guess and speculate on what these are. It was great to have Lancet editors just say what they look for: everything from how an article should conclude to who should be included among co-authors. I found it very helpful. And it didn't hurt they were really friendly, too."

A seated woman wearing a colorful blouse gestures as she speaks

Paris “AJ" Adkins-Jackson

Paris “AJ” Adkins-Jackson, assistant professor of epidemiology and sociomedical sciences, spoke to Dustin Graham, deputy editor of The Lancet Psychiatry, and Orison Woolcott, senior editor of The Lancet Regional Health–Americas, about her research on the connection between structural racism and cognitive aging. 

Says Adkins-Jackson: “It is not often we get to have a conversation with journal editors about our work. This occasion allowed us writers to achieve in a brief dialogue what is missed in a cover letter and abstract. The editors could ask us burning questions and come to a healthy understanding of our work without the torture of our imperfect methods sections.”

A panel discussion in the large event space of the Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center was moderated by Anil K. Lalwani, associate dean for student research, professor, and vice chair for research at Columbia VP&S. Discussion touched on topics such as the relative value of a journal’s impact factor and what journals are doing to support health equity. The pitch sessions and panel were both organized by the CUIMC Department of Neurological Surgery.

Miriam Sabin, North American Executive Editor at The Lancet and an alumna of the Columbia School of Social Work, said the sessions with Columbia Mailman researchers were the highlight of her day, adding, “There have been many Mailman faculty who have been important partners with The Lancet—from work on Lancet Commissions to research publications. What was lovely was to meet new faculty members who are doing such inspiring and important public health work. I am very much looking forward to a continued engagement with Mailman faculty.”