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.”

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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.

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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.

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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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September 28-October 2, 2015 is the first Peer Review Week, and it’s a good a time to put a spotlight on good practice in peer review and celebrate all it brings to the scholarly communication process. At ECS, we are marking Peer Review Week with a look at how peer review works here, and what happens to your manuscript after you submit it.

Our authors already know that the preparation and submission of a scientific manuscript for peer review can be a lengthy process, involving not just the research work and writing of the paper, but also the collection of supporting pieces of information required to enable publication.

But what happens after you hit the “Submit” button?

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peer review weekThis week (September 28-October 2, 2015) marks the first-ever Peer Review Week, a community-driven movement to discuss and celebrate the peer review process. Peer Review Week serves as a forum to take a deeper look at the heart of scholarly communications.

Peer review is not only critical for assuring high-quality science is published, it is also a crucial part of how society perceives published science and how reputable it is to the world at large.

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