Interviews with Outstanding Authors (2024)

Posted On 2024-03-17 10:57:14

In 2024, many AOJ authors make outstanding contributions to our journal. Their articles published with us have received very well feedback in the field and stimulate a lot of discussions and new insights among the peers.

Hereby, we would like to highlight some of our outstanding authors who have been making immense efforts in their research fields, with a brief interview of their unique perspective and insightful view as authors.

Outstanding Authors (2024)

Robert F. LaPrade, University of Minnesota, USA

Michela Saracco, University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy

Zachary J. Herman, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, USA

Outstanding Author

Robert F. LaPrade

Robert F. LaPrade, MD, PhD, is a complex knee surgeon who practices at Twin Cities Orthopedics in Edina in Eagan, Minnesota, USA. In addition, he is an adjunct professor at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Minnesota. He is known as a specialized clinician-scientist who has utilized his comprehensive research on sports medicine to improve patient care and invent novel ways to treat knee pathology. Many of the surgeries that he has devised have been performed worldwide. He has special expertise in treating posterolateral knee injuries, PCL tears, revision ACL reconstructions, meniscal repairs and transplants, MCL injuries, multiple ligament knee injuries, knee osteotomies, fresh osteoarticular allografts, and other difficult and revision complex knee injuries. While being a full-time clinician, Dr. LaPrade is also actively involved with bench-to-bedside research. He and his group have published more than 675 peer-reviewed scientific papers and over 125 book chapters and have given over 1,000 professional presentations. They have won many national and international research awards. He is also recognized internationally as an outstanding mentor and teacher, having been chosen to be a course chair for many national and international courses, as well as having been awarded multiple teaching awards presented by residents and fellows. In addition, he has mentored international fellows from all continents. Visit Dr. LaPrade’s homepage here.

One of the most commonly encountered difficulties in academic writing, in Dr. LaPrade’s view, is to know one’s audience. Each journal has a unique writing style that is specific to that journal. Understanding the flow, whether they prefer things to be written in first or third person, and also the general layouts of academic writing for a particular journal can be key to getting a paper accepted or not. In addition, when one starts out initially, young writers often try to present as much information as they can to demonstrate that they have a knowledge of the field. Unfortunately, this can kill one’s academic submission because in general, a short and to-the-point manuscript has a much greater chance of being accepted for the peer-reviewed literature than one that goes into exquisite detail about a topic. As one gets better at writing academic works, developing an Introduction that is one page or less, having a succinct Methods section, presenting the results in the Results section either in the text or the figures and not in both, then having a Discussion section that starts out with “the most important finding of this study was…” are keys to presenting ones’ work in a manner that has the best chance of being accepted.

In view of this, Dr. LaPrade points out that a key to addressing difficulties in academic writing is understanding the sources. What he means is that one should always go back to the original source rather than papers that may have quoted it further down the line when referencing work in one’s manuscript. In addition, referring to works in higher cited peer-reviewed journals should take preference over case reports and surgical technique papers. One does not always have to have an exhaustive synthesis of works on a particular topic, but one should ensure that the most highly regarded journals in one’s field have references that take preference over book chapters, case reports and technique papers when one is summarizing the Introduction and the Discussion sections. If one tries to include too much information, sometimes reviewers will feel that “what is the purpose of this work if it has already been done?”. Therefore, he indicates that having a proper balance of new information from one’s current work with what has been published previously and the questions that were still remaining that were addressed by one’s current work is an appropriate way to try and synthesize the evidence on a particular topic.

Lastly, Dr. LaPrade highlights that it is important for authors to disclose their conflicts of interest (COIs), especially if the topic involves an area in which an author may have a specific relationship with a company. In particular, if authors are paid to write a manuscript, this should be noted as part of the information under the COIs. However, it is important to recognize the majority of high-level successful surgeons do have relationships with orthopedic companies, which may or may not influence the manner in which they present their data. Therefore, understanding who may have a relationship with a specific company and whether that company’s products are being promoted is important when one does evaluate a work by an author that may have a COI on that particular topic.

(by Brad Li, Alisa Lu)

Michela Saracco

Dr. Michela Saracco, MD, is an Orthopaedic and Traumatology surgeon. Her practice is based in Rome and Naples, Italy. She attended the Catholic University of Rome “Sacro Cuore” where she obtained her medical degree and then the certification as a specialist in Orthopaedics and Traumatology. She has specific expertise in traumatology, hip surgery, musculoskeletal ultrasound, ultrasound-guided procedures, microsurgery and limb salvage surgery, and hand surgery. She is involved in clinical, teaching and research activities. She is also attending the PhD at the University of Naples “Federico II”. A list of Dr. Saracco’s research work can be accessed here. Follow her on Facebook.

In Dr. Saracco’s opinion, the essential elements of a good scientific paper are: originality of the topic, methodological rigor, particular clarity and plain language. She explains, “Our paper will influence clinical practice and future research. We, therefore, have a moral duty to offer an exhaustive and correctly conducted scientific work.” When preparing a paper, authors must have clear objectives. The aim is to optimize the researcher’s efforts to give a clear answer to the research questions.

In addition, Dr. Saracco believes that data sharing is the basis of scientific research and dissemination of knowledge. Therefore, high-quality scientific production should be accessible to all for free. “Only in this way will we be truly able to increase our knowledge and find inspiration for tomorrow's research,” adds she.

(by Brad Li, Alisa Lu)

Zachary J. Herman

Zachary Herman is a PGY3 Orthopaedic Surgery resident at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Apart from his clinical duties as a resident, he spends time performing mostly clinical research in the Sports Medicine subspecialty. His research is centered around ACL and multi-ligament reconstruction, meniscal repair/transplantation, shoulder instability, and rotator cuff pathology. He has also spent time performing biomechanical research at the University of Pittsburgh’s Orthopaedic Robotics Lab, where he is studying the effects of individualizing capsular plication in patients with shoulder instability. After residency, he is looking forward to pursuing a career in academic sports medicine, where he will work clinically while educating future surgeons and performing clinical research.

In Dr. Herman’s opinion, the key skill sets of an author are first developing relevant and answerable research questions. From there, proper study design and analysis is mandatory in order to accurately interpret results and draw meaningful, accurate conclusions. Avoiding biases, on the other hand, is important. In the context of clinical research, presenting findings honestly and accurately should be the priority, regardless of preexisting thoughts or opinions. Only with objective reporting of outcomes will the orthopaedic literature grow and allow surgeons to provide the most optimum evidence-based care for patients.

Personally, research provides an opportunity to improve outcomes for patients. While we clinically care for patients daily in the office or operating room, research and academic writing provide a way to promote the best care for patients in the future. Academic writing also imparts means for the education of medical students and other trainees. As so many people have given their time and effort to help me along my journey to becoming an orthopaedic surgeon thus far, I find it important to pay this forward, and I am motivated to provide the most optimal care for patients and set an example for other trainees. As such, I see academic writing and research as a part of residency training and a future career that supplies an additional avenue towards enhancing patient care and the learning experience of others in the field of orthopaedic surgery,” says Dr. Herman.

(by Brad Li, Alisa Lu)