As the scientific community comes together to celebrate and recognize the importance of the peer review process and the value of peer reviewers this week, we also want to call attention to the individuals, initiatives, and areas of ACS Publications that are dedicated and committed to creating trust and integrity in research.
Dr. Canul was appointed as the first-ever ACS Ombudsperson in November 2021. The ACS Ombudsperson is an independent, impartial, off-the-record, and confidential channel for concerns regarding the peer review process.
The purpose of the Ombudsperson is to serve as an independent liaison between ACS Publications and the chemistry community to address concerns about Editors, Editorial Advisory Board (EAB) members, or reviewers regarding the peer review process.
We asked Kathy about her role at ACS, how it supports research integrity, and how she approaches her responsibilities to the ACS publishing community.
In a nutshell, what does your role as Ombudsperson at ACS entail?
The ACS Publications Ombudsperson role is new as of November 2021 and was established to address questions, problems, and conflicts regarding the peer review process. The concerns may involve Editors, Editorial Advisory Board members, or reviewers, and include issues related to suspected bias or discrimination, handling of the peer review process, mismanagement of appeals, and concerns around scientific misconduct. The Ombudsperson is an independent, impartial, and confidential resource who works at an informal level, independent of formal organizational structures.
As the ACS Ombudsperson, how does your work support, uphold, and influence research integrity at ACS?
As a confidential resource, the Ombudsperson may hear concerns surrounding research integrity and offer guidance on finding a means to stop and/or correct actions that could jeopardize the integrity of an author’s, editor’s, or reviewer’s responsibilities.
What do you like most about what you do?
I enjoy helping people find solutions to struggles experienced in their professional lives. We invest so much of our time, energy, and commitment to work, and when we face conflicts, problems, or inequity it can be demoralizing and anxiety-provoking. Having someone to share your struggles with is a great option to tackle what seems insurmountable at the moment.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to a peer reviewer when it comes to maintaining and upholding integrity in research during the peer review process?
Sometimes we get so caught up in fulfilling our individual responsibilities for a role or job that we forget there is a larger scope to what we do. Science goes beyond publishing. Upholding integrity in research is paramount to the dissemination of discoveries and knowledge for the betterment of our world and humanity.