Transparency and ECS

With Peer Review Week 2017 in full swing, researchers, reviewers, and publishers worldwide are currently engaged in critical conversations about the role of peer review in scholarly communications.

In the spirit of the week’s theme of “Transparency in Review,” ECS hopes to shed as much light as possible upon its own peer review process. After all, the way peer review is conducted affects all participants involved in scientific scholarship—authors, reviewers, publishers, and consumers.

ECS prides itself on its commitment to rigorous peer review, which has remained a focus for the Society since 1902.

“All the work that we publish goes through a very rigorous peer review,” says Robert Savinell, editor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, in a podcast on open science. “If you look at the editorial board that we have that makes the decisions, these are all experts in the field. We can give critical feedback to the authors that can make the papers much stronger and much better.”

Likewise, ECS takes pride in being forthright about its peer review practices. It believes all of its authors, reviewers, and readers have a right to know how peer review is performed at ECS. ECS’s goal has always been to disseminate science you can trust. Transparent peer review is the cornerstone of this trust.


Peer Review Week 2017

The third annual Peer Review Week will take place September 11-17, featuring a series of panels, webinars, interviews, and communications on the multidimensional and imperative topic of peer review.

Though no one peer review process is quite the same as the next, scientists around the world depend on peer review. Whatever its form—closed, open, even post-publication—good peer review ensures quality in scientific research and communication. It evaluates the legitimacy of scholarly work and offers potential for the improvement and expansion of research.

Peer Review Week is a global event aimed at honoring the fundamental role peer review plays within the scholarly community. More than that, though, Peer Review Week extends authors, reviewers, and thinkers worldwide an opportunity to analyze the construct of peer review in its many shapes—to assess its many challenges and successes while considering its future.

The theme of Peer Review Week 2017 is “Transparency in Review.” The week’s events will deliberate what transparency means in peer review and examine its connection to scholarly accountability.

The week will feature virtual and in-person events from Monday, September 11 through Friday, September 15. Be sure to check out the full listing of Peer Review Week 2017’s activities.


Brett LuchtBrett Lucht is a professor of chemistry at the University of Rhode Island, where his research focuses on organic materials chemistry. Lucht’s research includes the development of novel electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries and other efforts to improve the performance of electrolytes for electric vehicles. Lucht has recently been named associate editor for the Journal of The Electrochemical Society.

The Electrochemical Society: What do you hope to accomplish in your new role as associate editor?

Brett Lucht: I hope to improve the prestige of the journal. While the Journal of The Electrochemical Society is the oldest journal of electrochemical science, competition from other journals has become fierce.  The Electrochemical Society is the largest scientific organization focused on electrochemistry and ECS meetings are very well attended. Thus publishing electrochemical research in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society should be the most prestigious place to publish.

ECS: Why should authors publish in ECS journals?

BL: The Journal of The Electrochemical Society has been in continuous production since 1902—115 years. While many new journals come and go, they are frequently focused on narrow topics which fluctuate in importance.  Publications in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society will last the test of time.  In my area of research, lithium-ion batteries, many new journals are publishing research in this area. However, many of the fundamental research articles providing the foundation for this field were published in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society.


EditorThe open access movement has bolstered content dissemination worldwide, but it has also led to the rise of “predatory publishers.” Instead of prioritizing the quality of the content, predatory journals exist to take advantage of the pay-to-publish open access system, enforcing a lax or non-existent peer review system while charging authors processing fees to publish their work.

Researchers who are eager to publish – specifically early-career researchers – often get caught up in the predatory publisher cycle because they’re either unaware of the practices or have not verified a journal’s reputation.

A new investigation, spearheaded by Nature, found that dozens of academic journals have been recruiting fake editors and offering them a place on their editorial board.

To begin the investigation, Nature submitted a fake application for an editor position to 360 journals, ranging from legitimate titles to suspected predatory journals. Of the 360 journals, all of which were listed in either Journal Citation Reports (JRC), Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), or Beall’s list (possible predatory journals), 48 accepted the faux editor application.

The fictitious CV sent to publishers was that of Anna O. Szust (ozust being the polish word for fraud), featuring a slew of fake scientific degrees, credits on books that don’t exist, and not one legitimate citation to her name or any work indexed in the Web of Science or Scopus.


How to Choose a Trusted Journal


ECS wants you to learn how to publish with a trusted journal.  A cross-industry initiative called Think.Check.Submit. is led by representatives from various organizations and publishers that encourages authors to find trusted journals for their research. It provides easy steps to follow about safe publishing as well as questions authors should be asking themselves.

ECS and our friends at Think.Check.Submit. are encouraging authors to:


ECS at 115

There’s a lot of noise in our world today about separating fact from fiction. We are constantly bombarded with volumes of information and data—and we are challenged with what and who to believe?

But when it comes to electrochemistry and solid state sciences, and related fields, be assured that the ECS journals are a source that you can trust. For 115 years, ECS has been publishing high quality, peer-reviewed journals that contain work from YOU—renowned scientists, engineers, inventors, and Nobel Laureates. YOU also provide the high quality and knowledgeable peer review of manuscripts submitted for ECS journal consideration. From our meetings proceedings, ECS Transactions, to our journals, the Journal of the Electrochemical Society and the Journal of Solid State Science and Technology, we maintain rigorous standards that land our publications in the top ranked, most cited in the world.

ECS is also one of the only remaining independent, nonprofit society publisher of electrochemistry and solid state science and technology. With over 3.2 million full-text article downloads in 2016, we are seeing an increase in use of the ECS Digital Library since we have transitioned to hybrid open access, with the future goal to completely Free the Science, ensuring complete access to our entire body of knowledge.

We’re proud of this legacy and we thank you for the contributions that you’ve made to ECS publications through the years.


Journal of The Electrochemical SocietyThe peer review process is the heart of scholarly communication, assuring the publication of high-quality papers and strengthening the public’s perception of the science. Through peer review, editors, reviewers, and authors work together to ensure the work is coherent, rigorous, and adds to the scientific knowledge base.

However, peer review is not flawless. Namely, the labor intensive review-revise-resubmit process can be time consuming, potentially hampering scientific progress due to publication delay.

“Peer review is everything,” says Michael Hickner, member of the ECS Editorial Advisory Committee and professor at Pennsylvania State University. “However, it can be inefficient and sometimes mistakes happen, but it is our system. Peer review is our gold standard and a tradition of the academic community.”

To help combat some of the issues facing the peer review process today and further strengthen ECS’s manuscript review process, the Society has established the Editorial Advisory Committee to accelerate the peer review process and resolve discrepancies between reviewers on content quality.

“The core goal of the Editorial Advisory Committee is to lend expertise and perspective to the editors and associate editors,” Hickner says, who specializes in membranes for fuel cells and batteries. “I’m a technical consultant and I can weigh in on key papers; perhaps like a trusted super-reviewer.”


Alice SuroviecAlice Suroviec is an associate professor at Berry College, where she focuses her research efforts on the development of microelectrodes and applications of electrochemistry to real-time detection of biological analytes in aqueous solutions. Suroviec has recently been appointed to the ECS Electrochemical Science & Technology Editorial Board as an associate editor for the Journal of The Electrochemical Society (JES).

The Electrochemical Society: What do you hope to accomplish in your role as associate editor?

Alice Suroviec: I hope to make a stronger connection between the excellent work being presented at ECS meetings and JES. I would like to see that JES becomes a go-to journal for publishing the best work in our field. That we will be able to provide excellent peer-reviews in a timely manner and that the process is successful for both the authors and the reviewers.

ECS: How important is the peer review process in scholarly publications?

AS: The peer review process is critical to the process of disseminating scientific work. The sciences are by nature a team process. In the lab we work with other team members to produce novel research. The peer review process is an extension of that, where other experts in the author’s area weigh in to produce the best paper possible. Peer review in JES also provides a quality control so the readers of the journal know that they are reading reputable results.


Venkat SubramanianVenkat Subramanian is the Washington Research Foundation Innovation Professor of Chemical Engineering and Clean Energy at the University of Washington. His research efforts focus on computational models to bridge next-generation energy materials to battery management systems. Subramanian has recently been named a new technical editor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, concentrating in the electrochemical engineering Topical Interest Area.

What do you hope to accomplish in your role as technical editor?
I am humbled and honored to be a Journal of The Electrochemical Society technical editor and I hope to help improve the impact factor and reach of our journal without losing the rigor we are known for. In particular, the electrochemical engineering topical interest area serves a critical role of taking fundamental electrochemistry to industrial applications. My current aim is to promote both traditional and new industrial applications of electrochemistry across different scales.

What are some of the biggest barriers for authors and for readers in the current publishing model?
Once I had a proposal rejected in my early academic career wherein the reviewer criticized me for not being aware of a recent article. I called the program officer to convey my unfortunate situation of not having access to the specified journal at my institution. While there are interlibrary loans or other such mechanisms, they are not optimal for making progress in research. Research requires instantaneous and immediate access. If you don’t have it, you lose out to your competitors who have such access. Note that every proposal is (and should be) reviewed on its merit and not resources available at a particular institution. Open access is critical for researchers and scientists.

What is the role of the Journal Impact Factor in scientific publishing?
Whether we like it or not, perception matters. Many academic departments have become highly interdisciplinary. Impact factor plays a big role in tenure and promotion decisions and there may be only one faculty member working in the field of electrochemistry. While I personally don’t read or benefit much from journals with high impact factor*, I will strive hard to promote and improve the impact factor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society and the perception about ECS journals in the scientific community.


Janine MauzerollJanine Mauzeroll is an associate professor at McGill University, where she leads a research group focused on topics ranging from electrochemistry in organic and biological media to electronically-conducting polymers. Her work combines experimental and theoretical electrochemical methods and applies them to biomedical and industrial problems such as multidrug resistance in human cancer cells, neurotransmitter release, biosensor design, and high-speed scanning electrochemical microscopy. Mauzeroll has recently been named a new technical editor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, concentrating in the Organic & Bioelectrochemistry Topical Interest Area.

What do you hope to accomplish in your role as Technical Editor?
I see no greater need than the one related to the promotion of fundamental research as a necessary partner to applied and industry driven science. As Technical Editor, I will put emphasis on complete experimental and full disclosures to generate “go to” manuscripts.

Moving forward, I hope to convince established researchers to continue sending in manuscripts by offering them visibility, such as special issues in or keynote addresses at symposiums. We need to seek out new researchers and deliver on our promise to provide a respectful and efficient review.

How has the rise of open access changed the current scholarly publishing model?
The rise of open access is a game changer and step forward for science. Strongly influenced by funding agencies, who have financed the publishing costs related to figures, covers and, general publishing costs, it is now a requirement in several countries that all publicly funded research be open access. In removing this budgetary constraints, we promote a publishing model focused on a desired target audience and impact.

Additionally, ECS’s Free the Science initiative will lead to a more general access to reliable and good scientific information, which is a basic requirement for further innovation and discoveries. In removing these constraints, more resources are being diverted to supporting the pillars of our research: students and fellows. Knowledge sharing basically forces us to move away from our protectionism inclinations and focus on our next great idea.


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