Communicating how and why our work is interesting—or matters—is difficult. An editor of a high-profile journal once said to me: “I’d really like to report more news about breakthroughs in physical chemistry research. But the problem is that I read the abstracts of the latest papers, and I can’t understand them!” The abstract of a research article is the gateway to our work, and in this era of information overload, the abstract is often decisive when the reader inquires whether your work matters to them. The success of our work therefore starts—and sometimes ends—with the abstract.
As a journal, we want your papers to be read and cited. In this issue, we are launching an initiative that will help this happen on a number of levels. In each issue, we will “spotlight” a handful of articles based on their appeal to the generalist, educated reader. As you can see in this issue, we will present an accessible plain-language summary of the spotlighted papers that will broaden the readership of your research and gain better traction with popular science journalists. We will use the Spotlights summaries to promote actively this work across a broad network, similar to a news release.
Spotlighted articles will be chosen in a three-tier process that emphasizes how well the abstract of each article communicates an intriguing story to the nonspecialist. To this end, two members of the selection panel are not academic researchers. Once the articles are selected for spotlighting, their abstracts will be condensed and copy-edited, yielding an engaging plain-language summary of the research.
We anticipate that a large fraction of the spotlighted articles will be promoted through channels like online science magazines, blogs, and so forth. We hope that the overall process encourages even more engaging and interesting abstracts for many of the papers published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, which, in turn, we expect will improve recognition, downloads, and citations to work published in the journal.
I look forward to reading the Spotlights each month to get a snapshot of the broad scope of advances across the field. Overall, we hope that the Spotlights initiative will expand awareness, recognition, and enthusiasm for physical chemistry.
Come celebrate 120 years of excellence with The Journal of Physical Chemistry at the JPC-PHYS Division Reception during the 252nd ACS National Meeting on Aug. 23 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.