It’s easy to miss out on promising, high-quality research when you stick to major capitals to the exclusion of smaller cities and outlying regions. That’s as true in the United States as it is in Japan, India, or China. Journals without a presence in those smaller communities often risk being overlooked when its scientists are ready to submit papers.
Since its founding in 2008, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces’ (AMI) editorial strategy has made identifying and nurturing such communities throughout China, Korea, Japan, India, and other parts of Asia a priority. “We have a very keen interest in staying connected to that community,” explains Kirk Schanze, the journal’s Editor-in-Chief since its launch.
Schanze was part of an ACS group that recently travelled to Harbin, China on a mission to do just that.
Bringing the journal to life
Harbin is the capital city of Heilongjiang Province located 1,000 kilometers north of Beijing, and is home to the Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT), a top-tier university focused on science and engineering. Over the course of three days in November, HIT hosted a workshop titled “Nanomaterials for Energy and Biotechnology.” The event was co-sponsored by ACS Publications, HIT, NSFC and Qiqihar University, also located in Heilongjiang Province.
Like previous ACS-sponsored workshops, the event brought together scientists to present their work and journal editors to shed light on the publishing process. The event drew more than 400 attendees, including staff and students from Heilongjiang University, Harbin Normal University, Qiqihar University, and other nearby academic institutions. “The students were very uninhibited,” Schanze says. “Their willingness and ability to stand up in front of a crowd attests to the high quality of the students, their interest in science, and their ability to communicate in English.”
For Schanze, who has organized past events in Harbin and who holds honorary visiting professorships at HIT and Heilongjiang University, the workshop was much more than a chance to share work with colleagues and promising young scientists. It was an opportunity to introduce them to AMI.
“These events make journals and editors real to people,” he says. “Students and staff were able to meet the people behind the journals they submit to—and often are rejected by. They can talk about their concerns and get to know us in a way that’s impossible to replicate over the phone or by email.”
Schanze also spoke on ethics and copyright at an ACS on Campus event that took place at the end of the workshop, along with Prashant Kamat, Deputy Editor of Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters and Ellen Fisher, Executive Editor of AMI. The group later travelled to nearby Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry (CIAC) for a second ACS on Campus event, and Qiqihar University to deliver research lectures.
A deliberate form of outreach
Since AMI’s launch, the number of submitted papers has grown 40 to 50 percent every year. And whereas many ACS publications draw primarily from papers published in North America, nearly 40% of the published papers in AMI are authored by mainland Chinese scientists and engineers. AMI’s success in attracting Asian authors, Schanze explains, is attributable in part to ongoing outreach like the workshop at HIT, the ACS on Campus Event at CIAC, the guest lecture to Qiqihar University, and the scores of informal conversations over dinner and in university halls made possible by those events.
“AMI’s mix of authors and editors is different from other ACS journals in large part because we’ve been actively engaged in Asia from the beginning,” Schanze says.
“As an editor, I find it invaluable to travel like this and become familiar with the institutions, and to interact personally with the faculty and students.