EACR member Yeliz Yilmaz recently told us “Joining the EACR community was one of the best decisions in my career”. Yeliz has now completed her EACR-Molecular Oncology Fellowship, funding that is awarded to enable a talented cancer researcher to gain knowledge and experience of scientific publishing through a 3-month placement with our affiliated journal Molecular Oncology.

Yeliz is a postdoctoral researcher at Izmir Biomedicine and Genome Center in Turkey, and completed her fellowship at the Molecular Oncology Editorial Office in Heidelberg, Germany between 01 February and 30 April 2024. We recently caught up with her to hear about her experience.

Why did you decide to apply for an EACR-Molecular Oncology Editorial Fellowship?

Currently, I work as a senior postdoc who is about to finish her experiments and has to write several manuscripts. When I came across the posting about the EACR-Molecular Oncology Editorial Fellowship in the EACR newsletter, my first impression was that it would be an incredible opportunity to improve my scientific writing skills. Moreover, among my friends and colleagues, none had experience in the world of publishing, so I was also curious and excited about a publishing career and wanted to learn more about it. The fellowship period of three months was just a perfect occasion for this. I additionally thought that Molecular Oncology is a highly prestigious journal in the field of molecular cancer research and that a position in its Editorial Office would be so full of experience. One of the journals that I intend to publish in was indeed Molecular Oncology, so I believed this was a perfect opportunity to learn about how to better write a manuscript.

Can you summarise what you learned during your fellowship?

I started with the first look checks of new submissions and learned which segments are essential when submitting a manuscript. Later I gained hands-on experience in finding and inviting reviewers for manuscripts. At this point, I understood how important it is to find the most relevant reviewer and to convince them to accept. Science is collaborative in publishing as well, and reviewing is an integral part of a voluntary, unbiased collaboration. Although every researcher has a lot on their plates, I learned that it is crucial to take time to review a manuscript in your specific field. From my limited observation, an invitation left non-responded, and an overdue revision are elementary parts that delay the workflow of publishing a manuscript.

Throughout my fellowship, I also gained first-hand experience in admin-checks for revised manuscripts. Moreover, I learned about the pipelines of image integrity and how to critically assess the figures. I feel very lucky to have had the chance of observing how an image integrity specialist approaches the images in a manuscript.

Moreover, I had the privilege to work with and benefit from the experiences of the Editors of Molecular Oncology in writing highlight articles, evaluating submitted abstracts for congresses, and scientific writing contests.

Describe a ‘typical day’ of your fellowship.

The EACR-Molecular Oncology Editorial Fellowship was a part-time internship program that started remotely. This flexibility was ideal for me because for almost two and a half months, I could work from my hometown while continuing my postdoctoral work in the lab. Therefore, I could coordinate my experiments with online meetings and editorial tasks. In the first few weeks, I was introduced to and trained by everyone in the office virtually, which was incredible. I was fascinated about the other side of publishing and was very enthusiastic about sharing the brand-new knowledge that I gained, with my colleagues in the lab. Later, I had more time for gaining hands-on experience about the tasks under the supervision of Molecular Oncology Editors. We had almost daily one-to-one meetings, and everyone I met was so helpful.

Additionally, we had weekly manuscript status meetings where we discussed the latest status of every manuscript in the publishing flow. We also had bi-weekly editorial meetings with the Editor-in-Chief, Prof. Kevin Ryan, where I learned about various important topics in publishing. Last but not the least, we had virtual coffee meetings with the members of the FEBS Journals’ Editorial Teams on Friday mornings. I had the chance to meet very nice people and enjoyed these friendly meetings a lot.

What was a personal highlight of your fellowship?

For me, the personal highlight of this fellowship was writing a highlight article entitled “Decoding HPV: disease stage and treatment insights” for the May Issue of Molecular Oncology. I never had experience in writing about a topic outside of my field. For the last ten years, I’ve been studying liver cancer, cancer signalling and metabolism, and metastasis. Whilst, for the aforementioned issue, I read the recent literature about human papilloma virus (HPV) and its effects on the oncogenic process and therapy. At first, I was uncomfortable about writing outside of my field but with the invaluable guidance of Molecular Oncology Editors Dr. Ruzhica Bogeska, Dr. Ioannis Tsagakis and Dr. Siddhi Maniyar, I prepared the highlight article and learned so much throughout this process. This experience allowed me to obtain a wider perspective and had a profound effect on improving my writing skills.

Furthermore, during my visit to the Heidelberg Office, I had the opportunity to join an EMBO-EMBL Symposium alongside Dr. Ruzhica Bogeska, managing editor of Molecular Oncology. Shadowing Dr. Bogeska throughout the symposium provided valuable insights into the subtleties editors pay attention during conferences. Later, I had the pleasure of dining with the esteemed members of the FEBS Journals’ Editorial Teams, a great occasion where I could dive into the world of scientific publishing. It was a memorable and delightful night for me.

How has this fellowship been beneficial to your research and/or your career?

This three-month editorial experience allowed me to gain valuable perspective in scientific writing and thinking. I had the chance to participate in several paths that a manuscript goes through after the button of “send” is pressed by the authors. At first, I approached all the manuscripts with too much empathy, but eventually, I became better at criticising and identifying highlights. I improved in understanding how to precisely convey the message of a study and how to narrate the data’s story in a manuscript. This experience significantly enhanced my skills in scientific writing.

In addition, I had the chance to experience scientific publishing as a career path and realised that I really enjoyed reading and writing about various subjects in oncology as much as benchwork. Previously, I had only encountered editors at conferences and had only gotten an impression about publishing from “Meet the Editors Sessions”. I also didn’t personally know anyone who pursued a career in publishing. Therefore, this opportunity was tremendously helpful for me in transitioning an impression to experience.

Do you intend to pursue a career in scientific publishing?

Throughout my fellowship, I greatly enjoyed being a part of a scientific editorial office and guiding the manuscripts to an eventual happy end. I was fortunate to work with an amazing team in Molecular Oncology where I was treated not like a temporary intern, but like one of their actual staff. Everyone spent time and gave endless effort in helping me improve my skills, this let me feel like I belong there. I had the chance of meeting with Dr. Ruzhica Bogeska and Dr. Siddhi Maniyar in the Heidelberg Editorial Office visit and this reinforced my impression. Therefore, when I received an offer for a position as an editor, I was thrilled to start my career in scientific publishing in Molecular Oncology. I can’t wait to start walking along this new path.

EACR-Molecular Oncology Editorial Fellowship

To find out more about this opportunity, click here.