Dr. Kathleen Canul will be the first-ever ACS Publications ombudsperson. This new role, created as part of ACS Publications’ commitments to addressing systemic racism in chemistry journals, is an independent, impartial, off-the-record, and confidential channel for concerns regarding the peer-review process.
In this new role, Dr. Canul will help bring problems, concerns, and conflicts regarding the peer review process to the attention of ACS Publications for resolution. She will be available to hear concerns about Editors, Editorial Advisory Board members, or reviewers, including suspected bias, handling of the peer review process, mismanagement of appeals, and concerns around scientific misconduct. The ombudsperson will also prepare an annual report for ACS, informing it of trends she believes may help the organization address, improve the climate for membership, or improve ACS’ policies and practices.
The new ombudsperson will preserve the confidentiality of inquirers where possible, maintain an impartial position regarding the concerns raised, and works at an informal level, independent of formal organizational structures. Where possible, they may also act to facilitate conversation to remedy a situation.
This new role will not investigate complaints about journal content or concerns about scientific misconduct by authors, which need to be brought to the attention of the relevant journal and/or institution. The ombudsperson also will not participate in formal investigations, have a formal role in the issue resolution, or make binding decisions or mandate policies.
“The appointment of Kathy Canul as the ACS Publications Ombudsperson to serve as a liaison between Editors and our Community is an important step towards fulfilling the commitments outlined in the 2020 joint Editorial Confronting Racism in Chemistry Journals,” says Jim Milne Ph.D., President, ACS Publications Division. “Dr. Canul will support both ACS Publications in providing inclusive peer review services as well as the chemistry community who can reach out to Dr. Canul for advice.”
Dr. Canul comes to ACS from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she has served as the Director of Ombuds Services since 2007. She has a Ph.D. and M.S. in clinical psychology from Washington State University, and her B.A. in psychology is from the University of California, Irvine. She is a licensed psychologist, a certified mediator, and an International Ombudsman Association member.
“As the ACS Publications ombudsperson, I’m available to hear concerns, help find answers to your questions and discuss options when facing challenges. Please know that communications with an ombudsperson are confidential, and I welcome the opportunity to be of service,” said Dr. Canul.