Editor Spotlight: Harald Schmidt on Drug Repurposing, Improving Patients’ Lives, and Transparency in Open Science 

Editor Spotlight: Harald Schmidt on Drug Repurposing, Improving Patients’ Lives, and Transparency in Open Science 

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A senior medical doctor, pharmacist, professor, and journal founder and editor, Dr. Harald Schmidt has been pioneering the fields of systems medicine and network medicine. His work focuses on redefining diseases based on precise molecular mechanisms rather than just symptoms, which enables more accurate diagnoses and therapies aimed at curing patients. Schmidt is deeply involved in drug repurposing research, which seeks new uses for existing drugs, potentially accelerating the path to clinical trials and patient benefit. This innovative approach and his commitment to open science inspired him to co-found two new journals: Network Medicine and Drug Repurposing.  

Schmidt’s Approach to Editorial Process and Decision-making 

Schmidt’s editorial approach is grounded in fostering a collaborative and transparent scientific community. He invites knowledgeable experts to the editorial board and encourages them to contribute papers, especially in the initial stages of the journals. Reviews are conducted in an open and respectful manner, which contrasts with the often harsh and anonymous reviews typical of traditional journals. “Because it’s totally open, the reviews can still be critical or identify weak spots, but it’s all phrased in a nice, polite, collegial tone.” Schmidt believes this approach promotes constructive feedback and maintains high standards of scientific integrity. His goal is to ensure that published research is of the highest quality, reproducible, and achieves patient benefit. 

The Importance of Open Science 

Open science is a cornerstone of Dr. Harald Schmidt’s editorial philosophy. He stresses the importance of making published work readily accessible without the prohibitive costs often associated with traditional journals. He highlights that some journals charge exorbitant fees, sometimes up to $12,000 per contribution. Schmidt also advocates for transparency in the review process, arguing that anonymity can lead to unfair critiques. “I think we would have a much fairer review process” if reviewers’ identities were known, he suggests. Platforms like ScienceOpen, which allow post-publication comments and encourage self-archiving, are essential in his view. These practices not only enhance the accessibility and transparency of scientific research but also promote an ongoing dialogue and exchange of ideas within the scientific community. 

Advice to Early Career Researchers 

Harald Schmidt advises young researchers to focus on the quality and reproducibility of their work rather than the impact factor of the journals in which they publish. He acknowledges the pressure to publish in high-impact journals but emphasizes that the true value of research lies in its validity and contribution to the field. “The ultimate goal should not be to publish papers. The ultimate goal is finding cures, better diagnostics, or disease prevention.” He stresses that the current system of valuing research based on publication metrics must change.

At one stage, one generation of scientists has to say no. We have to stop this nonsense.

Schmidt encourages researchers to push for a system that instead values robust and reproducible research over publication metrics. He also underscores the importance of open access and transparency, urging early career researchers to engage with platforms that support these principles. 

Dr. Harald Schmidt’s extensive experience and commitment to advancing medical research through open science and collaborative practices make him a pivotal figure in the fields of network medicine and drug repurposing. His editorial work reflects his dedication to fostering a more accessible, transparent, and innovative scientific community. 

RExPO24: Get your tickets! 

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RExPO24 is the third installment in the RExPO annual conference series, focusing on Systems Medicine, Artificial Intelligence, and Drug Repurposing. The conference will serve as a platform for experts and stakeholders from around the world to discuss the latest developments and challenges in these fields. RExPO24 provides an opportunity for researchers, professionals, and scholars to exchange ideas, share insights, and collaborate on advancing knowledge and innovation in systems medicine, artificial intelligence, and drug repurposing. This year’s installment takes place in Munich, Germany, from July 3rd to 5th (register for the conference here). All abstracts are published on ScienceOpen!

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ScienceOpen is a freely accessible research communication platform with the technological infrastructure to support multi-dimensional search, community curation, and researcher networking. To learn more about how we can fit our services to your needs and how our solutions can benefit your journal, contact Stephanie Dawson or Stuart Cooper

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