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ACS Celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2022

February 11 is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day created by the United Nations to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. Women and girls continue to make important contributions to chemistry, even as the COVID-19 pandemic of the past two years has proved to be measurably more disruptive for female scientists than their male counterparts.

Together with our many women editors, authors, reviewers, and readers, ACS Publications works to promote the full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. We salute the hard work of women and girls in the chemistry community, who contribute to the American Chemical Society’s mission “to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people.”

Chemistry of Materials Virtual Issue: Resilient Women and the Resiliency of Science

This Virtual Issue highlights a collection of papers published during the COVID-19 pandemic in Chemistry of Materials by women corresponding authors. In addition, the issue Editorial features a Q&A with nine recent authors in the journal about how they define resilience and the times in which they were resilient.

ACS Energy Letters Virtual Issue Series: Women Scientists at the Forefront of Energy Research

As part of ACS Energy Letters’ annual celebration of the contributions of women scientists, we bring you a four-part Virtual Issue series. From early career researchers to well- established senior scientists, the successful career paths they have taken to become leaders in the community have impacted energy research in a significant way. The contributions of female energy researchers who have published new advances from their laboratories in ACS Energy Letters are compiled along with their short inspirational stories. To inspire other scientists working in the field, we asked them to comment on their inspiration to engage in energy research, discuss an aha! moment in research, and/or provide advice to newcomers in the field. We hope that these personal reflections compiled in this virtual issue can motivate many young researchers to tackle challenges in clean energy.

Women Scientists at the Forefront of Energy Research: A Virtual Issue, Parts 1 & 2

Women Scientists at the Forefront of Energy Research: A Virtual Issue, Part 3

Women Scientists at the Forefront of Energy Research: A Virtual Issue, Part 4

Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry Virtual Issue: Women in Mass Spectrometry

We have assembled this virtual issue featuring talented women mass spectrometrists who publish in Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry as the corresponding author. The articles compiled are among the most highly cited that were published in the journal in the last 5 years, regardless of gender, and are representative of the best mass spectrometry science reported in Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry.

ACS Omega Virtual Issue: Women at the Forefront of Chemistry

In this special collection, ACS Omega celebrates the contribution of women researchers who have published new advances from their groups in our journal. This Virtual Issue is guest-edited by ACS Omega’s Associate Editor, Prof. Luisa Torsi (University of Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy), a recipient of the IUPAC 2019 Distinguished Women in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering award. The articles selected feature women at different stages of their career from around the world, in all areas of chemistry. We hope highlighting the work of these champions of chemistry will challenge stereotypes, advance progress towards full gender equality in the future, and encourage more women to pursue a career in STEM.

ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters Women in Medicinal Chemistry Special Issue

Journal of Medicinal Chemistry Women in Medicinal Chemistry Special Industry

Impactful Publications from Women in Materials, Interfaces, and Applications

ACS Applied Bio Materials
Osteogenic Potential of Additively Manufactured TiTa Alloys

Erin G. Brodie, Kye J. Robinson, Elizabeth Sigston, Andrey Molotnikov, and Jessica E. Frith

***

Biodegradable Breast Tissue Marker Clip

Moran Haim Zada, Zehava Gallimidi, Michal Schlesinger−Laufer, Abraham Nyska, and Abraham J. Domb

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Catalyst-Free Mechanochemical Recycling of Biobased Epoxy with Cellulose Nanocrystals

Liang Yue, Kai Ke, Mehrad Amirkhosravi, Thomas G. Gray, and Ica Manas-Zloczower


ACS Applied Electronic Materials
Record-High Responsivity and Detectivity of a Flexible Deep-Ultraviolet Photodetector Based on Solid State-Assisted Synthesized hBN Nanosheets
Sushmitha Veeralingam, Lignesh Durai, Pinki Yadav, and Sushmee Badhulika
***
Nanospike Electrode Designs for Improved Electrical Performance in Nanoscale Organic Thin-Film Transistors
Calla M. McCulley, Xin Xu, Kelly Liang, Xiao Wang, Liang Wang, and Ananth Dodabalapur
***
Near-Unity Photoluminescence Quantum Yield in Blue-Emitting Cs3Cu2Br5–xIx (0 ≤ x ≤ 5)
Rachel Roccanova, Aymen Yangui, Hariharan Nhalil, Hongliang Shi, Mao-Hua Du, and Bayrammurad Saparov

ACS Applied Energy Materials
Reduced Graphene Oxide-NiO Photocathodes for p-Type Dye-Sensitized Solar Cellsv
Marco Zannotti, Elisabetta Benazzi, Lee A. Stevens, Marco Minicucci, Lawrence Bruce, Colin E. Snape, Elizabeth A. Gibson, and Rita Giovannetti
***
Understanding the Role of Interfaces for Water Management in Platinum Group Metal-Free Electrodes in Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells
Jiangjin Liu, Morteza Rezaei Talarposhti, Tristan Asset, Dinesh C. Sabarirajan, Dilworth Y. Parkinson, Plamen Atanassov, and Iryna V. Zenyuk
***
Operando X-ray Tomography Imaging of Solid-State Electrolyte Response to Li Evolution under Realistic Operating Conditions
Natalie Seitzman, Olivia F. Bird, Rory Andrykowski, Steve Robbins, Mowafak M. Al-Jassim, and Svitlana Pylypenko

ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Cytotoxicity of Graphene Oxide and Graphene in Human Erythrocytes and Skin Fibroblasts
Ken-Hsuan Liao, Yu-Shen Lin, Christopher W. Macosko, and Christy L. Haynes
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Decomposition of Organic Perovskite Precursors on MoO3: Role of Halogen and Surface Defects
Sofia Apergi, Christine Koch, Geert Brocks, Selina Olthof, and Shuxia Tao
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Stretchable, Biocompatible, and Multifunctional Silk Fibroin-Based Hydrogels toward Wearable Strain/Pressure Sensors and Triboelectric Nanogenerators
Faliang He, Xingyan You, Hao Gong, Yun Yang, Tian Bai, Weiguo Wang, Wenxi Guo, Xiangyang Liu, and Meidan Ye

ACS Applied Nano Materials
Metal and Metal Oxide Nanoparticles to Enhance the Performance of Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA)
Yuan Gao, Yingzhu Zhou, and Rona Chandrawati
***
Quantum Dots and Their Applications: What Lies Ahead?
Mônica A. Cotta
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High-Index Core–Shell Ni–Pt Nanoparticles as Oxygen Reduction Electrocatalystsv
Gerard M. Leteba, David R. G. Mitchell, Pieter B. J. Levecque, Lebohang Macheli, Eric van Steen, and Candace I. Lang

ACS Applied Polymer Materials
Utilizing Reclaimed Petroleum Waste to Synthesize Water-Soluble Polysulfides for Selective Heavy Metal Binding and Detection


Logan Eder, Cameron B. Call, and Courtney L. Jenkins
***
Fundamentals and Applications of Polymer Brushes in Air
Guido C. Ritsema van Eck, Leonardo Chiappisi, and Sissi de Beer
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Recent Trends in Advanced Polymer Materials in Agriculture Related Applications
Amrita Sikder, Amanda K. Pearce, Sam J. Parkinson, Richard Napier, and Rachel K. O’Reilly

ACS Central Science Editorials

In this Editorial, Achieving Gender Balance in the Chemistry Professoriate Is Not Rocket Science, Carolyn R. Bertozzi considers why it seems so hard to populate the ranks of chemistry department faculty with women.
Learn more about The Chemistry Women Mentorship Network (ChemWMN) in this piece from Brandi M. Cossairt, Jillian L. Dempsey, and Elizabeth R. Young.

OPR&D: Celebrating Women in Process Chemistry Special Issue

In recognition of a new age that embraces better gender balance and diversity in all its forms, this Special Issue of Organic Process Research & Development features a collection of papers published by women in process chemistry. Such innovative work encompasses a multitude of topics relevant for the safe, environmentally benign, and ultimately economical manufacturing of organic compounds that are required in larger amounts to help address the needs of society across the globe. Read a related Virtual Issue on Celebrating Women in Organic Chemistry

Bioconjugate Chemistry: Women in Bioconjugate Chemistry: Celebrating Women Scientists

In the spirit of celebrating women who are collaborating across disciplines, developing new understanding and new ideas, publishing groundbreaking research in our journal and in all the journals beyond ours, and not letting the trappings of other people’s expectations and assumptions define what is possible, Bioconjugate Chemistry is happy to present the “Women in Bioconjugate Chemistry: Celebrating Women Scientists” Virtual Issue.

Journal of Chemical Information Modeling : Advancing Women in Chemistry Call for Papers

Following the response to and impact of JCIMs May 2019 special issue on  Women in Computational Chemistry addressing the issue of gender disparity in science, JCIM is launching a new call for papers for a special issue on “Advancing Women in Chemistry.” This special issue aims to raise awareness for addressing and closing the gender gap in chemical sciences.

ACS Symposium Series eBook: Addressing Gender Bias in Science & Technology

A recent addition to the ACS Symposium Series, Addressing Gender Bias in Science & Technology walks readers through this important subject by using supporting data to define the challenges and then discussing ways to dismantle barriers and respond to gender biases. With solutions backed by research, this work will be useful for those working in all science and technology fields. Read more here.

A New ACS Guide Chapter: ACS Inclusivity Style Guide

The ACS Inclusivity Style Guide, a new open-access chapter added to the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication, helps readers learn to communicate in ways that recognize and respect diversity in all its forms. The chapter includes recommended language on gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, disabilities and disorders, and more. It offers important context for each topic, including the background behind each recommendation and links to valuable resources. Because language is ever-evolving, the guide will be updated over time to reflect changes in language and to incorporate new topics. Read the chapter here.

Learning to Communicate Inclusively: A New ACS Guide Chapter 

When done right, communication can open doors—it allows people to learn new concepts, meet one another, and share information. But often, we can unintentionally close doors with our communication when unconscious biases appear in the words and images we use. Language and images that alienate groups or perpetuate stereotypes create barriers between a communicator and their potential audience.

To break down those barriers and help advance a more diverse and inclusive culture in science, the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication has added a new open-access chapter on inclusive language and images. The latest chapter is the ACS Inclusivity Style Guide, a resource developed by the American Chemical Society Communications Division and the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Respect. Using accessible language and real-life examples, the new chapter helps readers learn to communicate in ways that recognize and respect diversity in all its forms.

The guidelines can be applied to all content to make it more welcoming and relevant, regardless of the topic. The chapter includes recommended language on gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, disabilities and disorders, and more. It offers important context for each topic, including the background behind each recommendation and links to valuable resources.  Examples of topics the guide discusses include:

  • when to use the description “people of color,”
  • when to use the singular pronoun “they,” and
  • when to use people-first or identity-first language for health conditions.

The guide is primarily based on recommendations from advocacy and journalistic groups. Because language is ever-evolving, the guide will be updated over time to reflect changes in language and to incorporate new topics.

The ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication provides students, researchers, educators, and librarians with the instruction and advice they need to master the art of scholarly communication beyond the scientific journal. With the valuable guidance and examples provided in this newest ACS Guide chapter, readers can learn how to keep communication opening, not closing, doors.

To give feedback on this chapter of the guide, please email ISG@acs.org.

Learning to Create Effective Patents: A New ACS Guide Chapter

Patents can be powerful tools, yet any scientist who has experience with them knows how difficult patents can be to create. A patent’s legal requirements, detailed descriptions, claims, and drawing sections can present a daunting challenge for those used to communicating their work through research articles.

Creating Effective Patents is the most recent chapter published in the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. This chapter serves as a useful starting point for scientists and inventors with patentable ideas, demystifying the process through relevant real-world examples, definitions, infographics, and links to useful resources.

I would recommend this to new inventors, to entrepreneurs, and those that are curious about patents and how they work.—Susan K. Cardinal

Authored by Xavier Pillai, J.D., Ph.D., an experienced scientist, patent attorney, and inventor, the chapter offers readers an introduction into the complex world of patents, whether they are interested in searching, reading, or getting started with writing one of their own.

The new chapter provides useful information on the following topics:

  • The various types of patents and their uses.
  • Guidance for searching through patent literature.
  • Helpful insights and best practices for writing and filing patent applications.
  • Effective techniques for communicating with patent offices.
  • Rights and obligations of inventors and patent holders.

The chapter breaks down the parts of a patent document and how they are assembled, using layman’s terms to help the reader understand important legal requirements and the tools they will need to navigate the application process. Common pitfalls and useful reminders for the reader are included throughout.

The chapter also includes additional context beyond the patent application, including advice on conducting prior art searches, how applications are examined and assessed, and differences between patents in various countries around the globe.

Very helpful to young professionals starting in the patent field…a good and highly informative work. —Beatrice Ngatcha, Ph.D., J.D.

The ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication provides students, researchers, educators, and librarians with the instruction and advice they need to master the art of scholarly communication beyond the scientific journal. With the valuable guidance and examples provided in this newest ACS Guide chapter, readers can learn to prepare and maintain stronger patents, enhancing the value of their work and creating new opportunities for innovation.

Mastering Scholarly Communication – Part 7: Standards of Scientific Writing

The ACS Style Guide has always been a classic handbook for scientific publication. But in 2020, it was revised and expanded as the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. The ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication not only provides students, researchers, educators, and librarians with professional guidance, it also helps researchers at different stages of their careers to respond to the evolving world of publishing.

This ACS Axial series contains excerpts from the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. Parts of the original text be available for free for a limited time under an ACS Free to Read License. Specific sections will be indicated at the end of each post. 

The words chosen by a writer are one of the defining characteristics of that author’s style; however, word choice is not governed by style alone. The audience for an article must influence a writer’s choice of words so that the writer can select words that are likely to be known to the audience and define the words that are not. The type of document also may influence a writer’s word choices because some documents, such as journal articles and books, tend to require more formal word usage, whereas other documents, such as emails, allow less formality.

Common Confusing Words and Phrases

The choice of the correct word to express meaning begins with a good dictionary, but it also extends to understanding small differences in meaning between two words or phrases that are almost synonymous or that are spelled similarly but have significant differences in meaning. It is best to use words in their primary meanings and to avoid using a word to express a thought if such usage is uncommon, informal, or primarily literary. Many words are clear when you are speaking because you can amplify your meaning with gestures, expressions, and vocal inflections, but when these same words are written, they may be clear only to you.

Words: Assure vs. Ensure vs. Insure

Usage: To assure is to affirm; to ensure is to make certain; to insure is to indemnify for money.

Example sentences:

He assured me that the work had been completed.

The procedure ensures that clear guidelines have been established.

You cannot get a mortgage unless you insure your home.

Phrases: Based on vs. On the basis of

Usage:  Phrases starting with “based on” must modify a noun or pronoun that usually immediately precedes or follows the phrase. Use phrases starting with “on the basis of” to modify a verb.

Example sentences:

The doctors’ new methods in brain surgery were based on Ben Carson’s work.

On the basis of the molecular orbital calculations, we propose a mechanism that can account for all the major features of alkali- and alkaline-earth-catalyzed gasification reactions. (not ‘based on’)

Words: Comprise vs. Compose

Usage: Use “to comprise” to mean “to contain” or “to consist of”; it is not a synonym for “to compose.” The whole comprises the parts, or the whole is composed of the parts, but the whole is not “comprised of” the parts. Never use “is comprised of.”

Example sentences:

INCORRECT: A book is comprised of chapters.

CORRECT: A book comprises chapters.

CORRECT: A book is composed of chapters.

Using Gender-Neutral Languages

Most publishers have gone to great effort to eliminate the use of gender-biased language from their publications. Gender-neutral language is also now expected in scientific publishing. Current style guides and writing guides urge copy editors and writers to choose terms that do not reinforce outdated sex and gender roles.

Gender-neutral language can be accurate and unbiased and not necessarily awkward. The most problematic words are the noun “man,” when used to refer to humans generally, and the pronouns “he” and “his,” when used to refer to a nonspecific individual. These terms are no longer considered gender-neutral, but there are usually several satisfactory gender-neutral alternatives for these words. Choose an alternative carefully and keep it consistent with the context. Of course, if the identity of the person being discussed is known, then it is perfectly acceptable to use their specified pronouns.

How to Use a Comparative Phrase

Words: Fewer vs. Less

Usage: Use “fewer” to refer to number; use “less” to refer to quantity. However, use “less” with number and unit of measure combinations because they are regarded as singular.

Examples:

Fewer than 50 animals

Fewer than 100 samples

Less product

Less time

Less work

Less than 5 mg

Less than 3 days

Phrases: Greater than vs. More than vs. Over vs. In excess of

Usage: Use the more accurate terms “greater than” or “more than” rather than the imprecise “over” or “in excess of.”

Example sentences:

Greater than 50% (not in excess of 50%)

More than 100 samples (not over 100 samples)

More than 25 mg (not in excess of 25 mg, not over 25 mg)

Phrases: On (the) one hand and On the other hand

Usage: Use “on (the) one hand” and “on the other hand” to present conflicting points of view. These two phrases should be used only as a pair, never alone, and preferably within a few sentences of each other. In other words, use “on the other hand” only if “on (the) one hand” precedes it.

Example sentences:

On (the) one hand, we wanted to arrive early so that we could practice our presentation and correct any last-minute problems. On the other hand, we did not want to miss the current session of talks and the opportunity to talk to others about their research.

Avoid Using Inappropriate Words and Expressions

Write in a style that conveys the intended meaning using simple, subject-appropriate language. Avoid slang and jargon, which are expressions in the common vernacular that are not formal enough to be appropriate in a professional context. Write as if speaking to a colleague. For instance, instead of writing, “We put the sample in the fridge for a while,” write, “We stored the sample in the refrigerator at 4 ºC overnight.”

Do not use “respectively” when you mean “separately” or “independently.”

INCORRECT: The electrochemical oxidations of chromium and tungsten tricarbonyl complexes, respectively, were studied.

CORRECT: The electrochemical oxidations of chromium and tungsten tricarbonyl complexes were studied separately.

Avoid using contractions and abbreviations:

INCORRECT:  Wasn’t

CORRECT: Was not

INCORRECT: In the lab

CORRECT: In the laboratory

Avoid using such redundant sentence structures as “it is,” “there are,” and “this is”:

INCORRECT: It is a procedure that is often used.

CORRECT: This procedure is often used.

INCORRECT: There are seven steps that must be completed.

CORRECT:  Seven steps must be completed.

INCORRECT: This is a problem that is prevalent in the sciences.

CORRECT: This problem is prevalent in the sciences.

For more information on using making better word choices, please refer to section 5.1.1 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Mastering Scholarly Communication – Part 6: Graphics and Tables

The ACS Style Guide has always been a classic handbook for scientific publication. But in 2020, it was revised and expanded as the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. The ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication not only provides students, researchers, educators, and librarians with professional guidance, it also helps researchers at different stages of their careers to respond to the evolving world of publishing.

This ACS Axial series contains excerpts from the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. Parts of the original text be available for free for a limited time under an ACS Free to Read License. Specific sections will be indicated at the end of each post. 

Graphics

Graphics are an integral part of a manuscript that helps authors present a lot of information without the need for lengthy descriptive phrases. As modern instruments and computational tools generate enormous data, selecting the right plot to present data becomes a key step in highlighting new advances presented in the article.  Many people “read” a research article by scanning the figures. Each graphic, together with its caption, should be able to stand alone and include the essential information.

When to Use Graphics?

Use a graphic when a visual presentation:

  • Improves the effectiveness of the data presentation
  • Provides a better understanding of the results and/or increases the reader’s comprehension
  • Makes it easier to view trends and relationships in the data (relative proportions, magnitudes, etc.)
  • Highlights specific results with quantitative analysis
  • Communicates the information more succinctly than in prose

For more information on designing graphics, please refer to section 4.1.3 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

How to Use Published Graphics or Data?

Use original graphics in your article whenever possible. If you plan to include information from a previously published graphic, determine whether you can provide enough information by simply citing the previous publication or whether it is necessary to include a copy of the previous graphic. If you include the graphic, be sure it is a clear, high-quality image.

Clip art and images taken from the internet typically require copyright permission. If you are unable to obtain permission, the image cannot be included in the article. Obtain and provide written copyright permission, if required.

Whether you include either a copy or a slightly modified version of a previously published graphic, the reproduction or modification should be stated in the caption, and copyright permission obtained if required by the copyright holder. Copyright permission is typically not required when the graphic is redrawn, meaning there is extensive modification to the point where it can be considered a new graphic.

What is a Table of Contents Graphic/Graphical Abstract?

One of the most important but often neglected graphics in an article is the Table of Contents (TOC) graphic. It is published on the Table of Contents as well as next to the article’s Abstract in most journals. It is one of the first things a potential reader sees, and it can either attract a reader or cause them to skip over your article.

A Good TOC Graphic:

  • Tells the reader what the article is about
  • Is a simple unique color scheme or illustration
  • Is provided in the manuscript in its actual published size (refer to the Author Guidelines for specific journal requirements)
  • Fits into the size recommended by the journal (usually a horizontal frame)
  • Has minimal text, with all text legible when viewed at the published size.

In this video, ACS Editors share advice on getting started with a paper and creating figures.


For more information on TOC graphics, please refer to section 4.1.5 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Tables

When to Use Tables?

Use tables when the data cannot be presented clearly as narrative, when many precise numbers must be presented, or when meaningful interrelationships can be better conveyed by a tabular format. Tables should supplement, not duplicate, text and figures.

Determine whether the material you want to present really warrants a table. A table should generally consist of at least three interrelated columns and three rows. If you have only two columns, try writing the material as a narrative. If your table has unusual alignment and positioning requirements, consider making it a figure instead. If you have three columns, but they do not relate to each other, consider whether the material is really a list of items and not a table at all.

For more information on using tables, please refer to section 4.2.1  of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Parts of a Table

Effective tables are well designed, so think carefully—first, about the data you need to present and, second, about the best way to present it visually on a page. Sometimes, what looks fine on a letter-size sheet of paper is not practical for an online journal or book.

Parts of a table. Source: adapted from Dopilka, A; Zhao, R.; Well,J. M.; Svilen, B.; Peng, X.; Chan, C. K. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces2018, 10 (44), 37981–37991. Copyright 2018 American Chemical Society.

Title

Give every table a brief, informative title that describes its contents in non-sentence format. The title should be complete enough to be understood without referring to the text.

Column heading

Every column must have a heading that describes the material below it. Be as succinct as possible. Keep column headings to no more than two lines if possible and use abbreviations and symbols whenever practical.

Spanner heading

If a column heading applies to more than one column, it should span the columns to which it applies. This is called a spanner heading (or sometimes a straddle heading). Below the spanner heading, give the specific heading for each column.

Footnote

Table footnotes include explanatory material referring to the whole table and to specific entries. Examples of information that should be placed in general footnotes referring to the whole table explanations of abbreviations and symbols used frequently throughout the table.

For more information on designing tables, please refer to section 4.2.4  of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Multimedia Files

Multimedia is an effective way for enhancing demonstration and communication of research findings and promoting communications. Before creating a video or Web-Enhanced Objects (WEO), please refer to the author’s guide of specific journals to learn about whether such files are allowed to be used in the journals.

Video Files

Videos are useful ways to provide demonstrations and simulations, to illustrate methods, or to discuss your research. Examples of acceptable file types include .qt, .mov, .avi, and .mpg.

ACS Web-Enhanced Objects (WEO)

The Web editions of ACS Journals allow authors to make use of multimedia attachments called Web-Enhanced Objects (WEOs) to further the understanding of the research being reported in their article. WEOs include graphics, text, 3D images, spectra, and videos. Links to WEOs appear in the HTML version of the published article.

For more information on using multimedia, please refer to section 4.1.6  of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Mastering Scholarly Communication – Part 5: The Review Process

The ACS Style Guide has always been a classic handbook for scientific publication. But in 2020, it was revised and expanded as the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. The ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication not only provides students, researchers, educators, and librarians with professional guidance, it also helps researchers at different stages of their careers to respond to the evolving world of publishing.

This ACS Axial series contains excerpts from theACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. Parts of the original text be available for free for a limited time under an ACS Free to Read License. Specific sections will be indicated at the end of each post. 

When a manuscript has been submitted to a journal and complies with all submission standards of the journal, the editor-in-chief will make the first review decision on whether to reject the manuscript or transfer it to an associate editor-in-chief, who is often chosen on the basis of his/her fields of expertise and sometimes other factors such as his/her workload. After accepting the transferred manuscript, the associate editor-in-chief shall decide whether to assign the manuscript to an external reviewer on the basis of his/her first review decision, and make a final decision on accepting or rejecting publication of the manuscript by going through the procedures including external reviewer reporting, etc.

When a manuscript is submitted to a journal and meets all the submission criteria, the journal’s editorial team must make an initial decision: to decline the submission or to assign it to an editor who will then move it through the necessary steps to a final decision, including accepting the manuscript for publication. Editors are generally assigned on the basis of subject expertise, but sometimes workload and availability play a role. The assigned editor then reviews the manuscript and either declines the submission, recommends the manuscript be transferred to another journal, or assigns the manuscript to be peer reviewed.

Learn More About the Peer Review Process

The peer review process.

Perhaps you’re already familiar with the peer review process, but many scholars still need to learn how to respond to review feedback, especially when a paper is rejected.

Review Feedback

After accepting an invitation to review a submission, a reviewer is allowed anywhere between several days to twoweeks, depending on the journal, to provide written comments, which can fall into twocategories: (1) comments that are only for the editor and (2) comments that are shared with the authors. The first type of feedback, comments for the editor only, should be restricted to expressing concerns about potential ethical violations. They should not include comments on the quality of the manuscript.

Reviewers evaluate submissions based on how well the authors answered their research questions, whether the conclusions and implications were appropriately derived from the results and findings, whether suitable techniques and methods were used, and whether the research advances the field. Perhaps an even more critical role of reviewers is to evaluate whether the arguments presented by the authors are sufficient and effective enough to inform and convince a typical reader of the value of the published work. Reviewers ensure the authors meet the standards of the discipline and the results and conclusions are warranted, and ultimately help maintain the integrity of the science.

For more information on the peer review process, please refer to section 2.5.2 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Handling Rejection

Every scholar has to learn to deal with rejection in a professional and constructive manner. In the video, ACS editors share their tips for handling rejection and how to bounce back.
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How to Become an Excellent Reviewer

ACS Publications has created a free online training course to assist both new and experienced reviewers in mastering the core ideas of the review process. The ACS Reviewer Labwas designed by ACS editors, leading researchers, and ACS Publications staff. The six interactive modules provide practical guidance and real-life situations to help recognize ethical issues, to better understand the criteria for a review, and to formulate and write an effective evaluation. The six modules are as follows: (1) Introduction to Peer Review; (2) Ethics in Peer Review; (3) Preparing for Review; (4) Assessing Significance and Technical Quality; (5) Assessing Presentation and Readiness for Publication; and (6) Writing Your Review. The modules include exercises to test knowledge, videos, downloadable summary sheets, and a final assessment. The site requires a valid ACS ID, but registration and usage are free; the content is available in several languages.

ACS Reviewer Lab.

The Importance of Obtaining Peer Review Credit

Providing professional service to one’s research community is an important part of a researcher’s job description. When being considered for promotion or undergoing merit evaluations, individuals need to document their contributions to the scientific community as reviewers. In some instances, providing a list of journals and the number of manuscripts that have been reviewed is enough. In other cases, more formal tracking of an individual’s service may be needed.

Reviewers of ACS Publications journal articles can now receive public acknowledgment of their work, thanks to a collaboration with ORCID(Open Researcher and Contributor ID). Reviewers will be able to get credit through their ORCID profile, without revealing which article they’ve reviewed.

For more information on review credit, please refer to section 2.5.4 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Mastering Scholarly Communication – Part 4: Getting Started

The ACS Style Guide has always been a classic handbook for scientific publication. But in 2020, it was revised and expanded as the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. The ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication not only provides students, researchers, educators, and librarians with professional guidance, it also helps researchers at different stages of their careers to respond to the evolving world of publishing.

This ACS Axial series contains excerpts from the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. Parts of the original text be available for free for a limited time under an ACS Free to Read License. Specific sections will be indicated at the end of each post. 

Before you consider writing an article, ask yourself:

• Do my data tell a story that can appeal to my scientific community?
• What are the key findings of my scientific research story that advance the field?
• What data are needed to support the key findings?

How should you start writing a scientific paper? This video offers tips on how to get started with writing a scientific research article.

Get more information on organizing your thoughts into an outline in section 2.1.3 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Before you start writing, it’s worth learning the elements that an excellent scientific paper should have. The journal you’re submitting to will have guidelines you can use to make sure your work is presented correctly.

The following checklist can be used to ensure that a paper has the right form, structure, and content to reflect the value of your research.

Aesthetics

  • Has an engaging title with broad appeal
  • Engages the reader in an interesting research story
  • Avoids high text density
    • Breaks long paragraphs into shorter ones
    • Includes nontext features (e.g., tables, equations, well-drawn schemes, illustrations, other graphics) that are accurate, attractive, and understandable
    • Embeds legible, informative graphics in appropriate locations
    • Ensures that all labeling in graphics is legible when the images are viewed actual size (100%)
    • Includes paragraph headers or section headers

Content

  • Explains the significance of the work in the abstract and throughout the article as a major theme of the scientific story
  • Expresses a clear, well-defined theme that is supported by the data
  • Presents well-organized information progressing from one topic to the next in a logical order
  • Includes sufficient background information and experimental detail to fully support the conclusions
  • Presents results and conclusions clearly
  • Omits redundant or irrelevant information, including only results required to support the key findings and essential to the story and the focus
    • Places supportive data (e.g., data files, experimental details) in the Supporting Information section
  • Concludes with a paragraph that not only presents the key findings but also suggests new ideas for extending the study

Get more information on organizing your thoughts into an outline in section 2.1.4 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Mastering Scholarly Communication – Part 3: Open Access

The ACS Style Guide has always been a classic handbook for scientific publication. But in 2020, it was revised and expanded as the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. The ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication not only provides students, researchers, educators, and librarians with professional guidance, it also helps researchers at different stages of their careers to respond to the evolving world of publishing.

This ACS Axial series contains excerpts from the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. Parts of the original text be available for free for a limited time under an ACS Free to Read License. Specific sections will be indicated at the end of each post. 

Open sharing is the most recent movement in scholarly communication that aims at cultivating more transparent, reproducible, and collaborative research practices in the digital era Open Science by Design: Realizing a Vision for 21st Century Research, published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in 2018, summarizes the goals of open science: “to ensure the free availability and usability of scholarly publications, the data that result from scholarly research, and the methodologies, including code or algorithms, that were used to generate those data.”

To enable open science, many scholarly communication stakeholders, including researchers, libraries, information service organizations, publishers, funders, and universities/research institutions, will need to coordinate their efforts. All stakeholders are motivated to ensure the sustainable development of open science with the proper protection of intellectual property. However, these stakeholders have different priorities.

Scholarly communication stakeholders and their priorities driving the development of open science.

About Open Access

Open Access publications are most commonly defined as research publications that are freely available for all readers, in contrast to the traditional “toll access” model in which readers pay for access. Between 2002 and 2003, the principles of open access were formalized during three influential forums: the Budapest Open Access Initiative, the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. Open access generally requires a published work to:

  1. Be freely accessible online without a technical barrier
  2. Include licensed reuse by humans and machines (i.e., computer software and algorithms
  3. Be free of most copyright and licensing restriction except that authors retain control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly cited

Biomedical research is the discipline that publishes the most open access articles by far, in large part because the field’s primary funding body requires open access articles. Chemistry as a discipline has the smallest percentage of articles designated open access.

For more information on open science and attitudes toward open access across different disciplines, please refer to section 1.5.1 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Benefits & Challenges of Open Access

Some benefits of publishing research open access include the ability to:

  1. Gain: Open access articles are, by definition, more accessible for a broader audience; there is an undeniable gain in readership.
  2. Retain: Under traditional publishing models, chemists either transfer their copyright to publishers or they license exclusive publishing rights to their content. When publishing open access, researchers may have the option to retain some rights or remain the copyright holder.
  3. Comply: Research in chemistry and related fields is often funded by a wide range of organizations. Many funders have issued mandates on publicly sharing articles and data for research they fund, and these mandates have become a significant driving force for other stakeholders, especially the publishers and funded researchers, to accelerate their pace toward openness.
  4. Influence: Researchers can directly influence how scholarly communication evolves, as both the creator and consumer of research articles, data, and information.
  5. Improve: The open access movement is helping change the way research is assessed and valued. Opening up different types of research output and the associated metadata is the first step toward better metrics and impact assessment.
  6. Enable: With the open access movement, researchers in the “global south” (across Africa, South America, and Asia), now have increased access to research.

Some of the challenges of open access publishing include:

  1. Authors may desire—or face pressure to—publish in certain journals that are perceived as prestigious in order to advance their careers, but these journals may not offer open access options or offer only expensive open access options.
  2. For authors, covering the cost of publishing open access can be an additional financial burden.
  3. Managing open research and publishing workflows requires additional resources, infrastructure, and time.
  4. Readers can also be challenged by so-called predatory journals—low-quality, fully open access journals that do not follow accepted norms such as peer review or Committee on Publication Ethics guidelines, or are not indexed by the Directory of Open Access Journals.
  5. For publishers, the challenge is to create a new and sustainable business model to support open access while maintaining the quality of peer review, publication, and value-added services to the research communities.
  6. Funders are working on resource and policy environments that provide sufficient incentive, guidance, and support for researchers.
  7. Libraries, universities, and research institutions need to harmonize the complex resources, infrastructure, practices, and culture shift to allow their researchers to focus on the research itself.

For more information on the benefits and challenges of open access, please refer to section 1.5.2 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Different Types of Open Access

Journals offering open access options have adopted different business models, which are categorized as green, gold, platinum, bronze, diamond, and hybrid models. They are summarized in the chart below. These business models vary based on the APC charge, who pays for the APC, the timeline for openness, and the licenses available. Hybrid models are used by publishers who offer green, gold, platinum, and diamond open access options side-by-side with traditional pay-to-read articles.

Explore the Different OA Publishing Options

Different open access business models

For more information on different types of open access, please refer to section 1.5.3  of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Licensing Options

Authors can choose from different open access licenses for their article and specify how the readers and machines can reuse the work. The table below lists different types of open licenses used when publishing open access and what these different licenses allow end users to do. Among them, Creative Commons (CC) licenses are commonly used for open access.

Spectrum of openness for authors, machines, and readers. Reprinted from SPARC*. Licensed under CC BY.

Authors can choose a license when publishing open access, based on the options offered by their publisher. The APCs for choosing different licenses vary among different journals as well. Preferences in license types can vary by subdiscipline, geographic region, or funder. Creative Commons, an international nonprofit, facilitates interoperability through maintaining the standard set of terms with legal and technological consistency. Authors should choose carefully, as the license often cannot be changed.

For more information on open science and attitudes toward open access across different disciplines, please refer to section 1.5.4  of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

How to Evaluate Open Access Journals and Licensing

As discussed, authors need to think about several issues when choosing to publish open access. Consider the following:

  • Who are the authors?
  • How will the publication timeline affect your research or career plans?
  • When does the research need to be disseminated? How competitive is the research subfield?
  • How is the research funded and what institutions are involved?
  • Are there mandates for open access or open science?
  • How do the authors desire to use this work in the future (e.g., for tenure promotion, patent, teaching materials)?
  • What are the community norms for the research area?
  • Is waiting for the embargo period to expire reasonable?
  • What is the cost and how will the APCs be paid?
  • What is the target journal?

For more information on how to choose open access journals and how to better understand open access, please refer to section 1.5.5 and section 1.5.6 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Mastering Scholarly Communication – Part 2: Communicating with Decision Makers and the Public

The ACS Style Guide has always been a classic handbook for scientific publication. But in 2020, it was revised and expanded as the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. The ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication not only provides students, researchers, educators, and librarians with professional guidance, it also helps researchers at different stages of their careers to respond to the evolving world of publishing.

This ACS Axial series contains excerpts from the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. Parts of the original text be available for free for a limited time under an ACS Free to Read License. Specific sections will be indicated at the end of each post. 

Communicating Science to Decision-Makers

Many scientists, at some point in their careers, need to explain their research or communicate their insights to an audience of policymakers, professionals, and business leaders. Two considerations dominate communication considerations with this group. First, they may not share your level of expertise in your field, so the language you use must be geared to a more general level of knowledge and should be free of professional jargon or shorthand. Second, decision-makers tend to be busy people accustomed to hearing results and recommendations first; discussion of evidence and process comes second.

Grant Proposals

A proposal is a description of prospective research or scholarship designed to secure funding or permission to carry out the work. The funding or permission entity provides details about the expected content, format, and length of such a document. Proposals require a detailed objective, a thorough literature search of related work, a detailed description of the methods and activities, a timeline, and an accounting of how the human or financial resources will be used.

Like many other scientific documents, a proposal needs to contain creative ideas but also a reasonable, achievable plan to accomplish the project. The text must describe how the research questions will be addressed and do so with arguments that are logical and consistent. The reviewers (or administrators) must understand what will be done, how that will be accomplished, and whether the proposer has the resources to do the work (or can acquire them). The challenge is to couple creative ideas with the prose (and images) that justify the permission or resources that will be granted. Appropriate rhetoric and attention to details are necessary. The reviewers may have a high opinion of the idea, but the proposal is successful only if the details and description are appropriate.

Most authors of proposals are challenged or even have difficulty complying with word or page limits. Those who solicit the proposals must consider their review process and the time and personnel required to review the proposals. Setting an upper limit provides all applicants with an identical opportunity and protects those who would solicit the proposals from unreasonable proposals.

Watch this video on how to write a funding proposal:

Technical Reports

A technical report conveys information in a formal but easily accessible form. The format is often very prescriptive, with sections defined in a template that assures that all components are covered, that individual sections can be easily discovered, and that components are consistent from one report to a similar one used in the same organization. Like an article, a technical report is scholarly and contains an introduction and background supported by references and a bibliography. Although the focus is often on the results or outcomes (that are either formative or summative), other information may be required. Reports are often produced as an assessment or evaluation of ongoing projects and in support of obtaining continue funding from a grant or organization. Some of these reports are made available to the public, but others are only available to a smaller group.

For more information on communicating science to decision-makers, please refer to section 1.1.3  of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Communicating Science to the Public

As in communicating with decision-makers, communications geared to a public audience place a premium on brevity, clarity, and careful attention to explaining concepts in terms that can be understood by a nonscientist.

Interviews/Public Speaking

The exact nature of an interview or invitation to speak to the public depends on the occasion and circumstances. Public speaking involves presenting information to the general public or to a group whose knowledge of the content might be limited. The speaker should be aware of whether the audience consists of novices or specialists.

Interviews can be tricky. In some cases, interviewees may receive a list of prepared questions beforehand, but that is not always the case. Interviews are interactive, and the person conducting one will expect to ask for clarifications or additional information. The interviewee should prepare by anticipating questions and reviewing the covered content. In an interview, it is important to make key points concisely and directly. The more discursive the interviewee, the less likely the final result is to reflect their points clearly.

Communicating via Social Media

The proliferation of information on the Internet provides access to “factual” content but also the opinions or commentaries of authors on virtually any subject. Communications on social media are largely related to networking, marketing yourself, and finding a job. With the explosion of social media in the past decade, it cannot be ignored; at the same time, communications on these sites must be handled carefully.

LinkedIn

The social network for professionals, LinkedIn can help scientists connect with their peers and develop their own communities both through the umbrella LinkedIn site and through LinkedIn groups for particular scientific disciplines such as Life Sciences Network. In addition to developing a profile for the site, LinkedIn allows users to post professional information about themselves (i.e., a portfolio), including links to articles and presentations. LinkedIn is often used by employers or recruiters looking for appropriate candidates for positions. The tools allow a LinkedIn user to view a history of who has accessed their profiles and to set notifications related to various site activities.

Communicating via Video

Videos promote learning and understanding but also make access immediate and asynchronous. They can be used to archive a presentation or provide an author with the ability to summarize the highlights from an article or book chapter. Inexpensive or free commercial software is available to add images to a timeline, annotate it, and then provide the audio portion using voice-over tools. Of course, a video can be captured in real-time and also made available subsequently.

Websites for the delivery of video are free and accessible and come with tools for playback. Indeed, many formats are automatically supported in web browsers. One limitation of video is the size of the files, particularly when the authors wish to maintain very high quality. The best-known video providers are YouTube and Vimeo. Users can post their material free of charge and have it accessible via private or public channels. For the former, only potential audience members that have an access code can view the videos. In this model, the two vendors monetize their operations by showing advertisements. Journals and publishers also provide access to movies and videos, typically via supplemental information. These typically have size limitations and require specific formats.

For more information on communicating science to the public, please refer to section 1.1.4  of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Mastering Scholarly Communication – Part 1: Communicating with Peers

The ACS Style Guide has always been a classic handbook for scientific publication. But in 2020, it was revised and expanded as the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. The ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication not only provides students, researchers, educators, and librarians with professional guidance, it also helps researchers at different stages of their careers to respond to the evolving world of publishing.

This ACS Axial series contains excerpts from the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. Parts of the original text be available for free for a limited time under an ACS Free to Read License. Specific sections will be indicated at the end of each post. 

Most individuals are attracted to disciplines like chemistry by an interest in mathematics and science rather than a passion for, say, writing or art. But early in their studies and careers, they realize that the ability to communicate is essential to becoming a successful scientist or engineer. Even in the most basic chemistry courses, the cognitive processes of learning require the transfer of information via words and images.

Good communication requires a solid understanding of content, audience, and communication medium. It would be difficult, obviously, to describe an experiment, its data, and its implementations without first having comprehensive knowledge about it. An author or lecturer is responsible for the content, its level, and its delivery. The information must be valid, and it must be understandable.

But understanding the content, while necessary, is not sufficient: The author must know to whom they are communicating. In scientific communications, the critical question is, who is the audience? Over the course of a career in science, researchers will need to communicate effectively with three particular audiences: peers, decision-makers, and the public. These audiences differ significantly in their knowledge and in their needs. The content should be comprehensible to the target group (or to anyone with more knowledge of the topic). The author is responsible for understanding (or at least appreciating) the level of the audience.

Communicating Science to Your Peers

The Association of College & Research Libraries defines scholarly communication as “the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use.” Scholarly communication provides information that is backed by evidence and supportable via testing and experimentation. For scientists, communication with your peers is fundamental to a career. The forms of that communication may shift throughout the different stages of a career. Posters are often the first place students communicate their research. Presentations and publications follow. However, all communication methods continue to be important throughout one’s career.

Posters

Posters are a powerful means to connect the presenter to an audience, albeit in an individual or small group setting. Posters are organized into sessions that provide a reasonable amount of time for the participants to view all (or most) of the posters scheduled. The author(s) of the poster are present during the session and available to give a summary or discuss the contents. The session is very fluid; visitors to a poster stop or pass by in a random fashion. A group may form while the presenter is discussing the work, resulting in a different dynamic than a one-on-one discussion. The presenter should expect to answer some questions multiple times, and an effective poster tries to anticipate some of them.

The poster should be designed to be viewed in the absence of the authors. Posters are allocated a specific area—often as much as 4 × 8 feet, sometimes as little as 2 × 4 feet. The content includes text and images. Particular attention must be paid to the organization of the content material so that the viewer can easily sense the broad picture and follow the progression of information from the top-left to the bottom-right.

Posters are often organized into small “chunks” or areas, with navigation among the components either self-evident or aided by the use of numbered parts. The need to make the text font large enough to be readable from a reasonable distance (roughly 4−6 feet) precludes the extensive use of long text. Labels on figures and captions or tables of data also need to be readable given the size of the poster; there are limits to how much information can be reasonably included and to the proportions of text and images.

Discover the Elements of a Successful Poster Design:

Components of an effective poster. Source: inChemistry.

Tools like PowerPoint allow a user to design a poster; include, edit, and move pieces of text and images; and print a final version. Large posters require specialized printers to accommodate the size. Commercial copying centers and even online services make posters accessible to all. (Some vendors can print the poster on cloth fabric, allowing the poster to be folded for easier transport.)

In addition to posters, presentations are an important way to communicate your work to your peers, particularly at scientific conferences.

Learn to Give a Great Poster Presentation:

Poster presentation tips. Source: ACS Axial.

For more information on preparing for presentations, please refer to section 1.1.2  of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Published Content

Published content currently takes the form of journals, preprints, books, monographs, and conference proceedings.

Journals

Journals publish the research and scholarship from systematic investigations or studies. Individual journals are likely to have multiple manuscript types (e.g., articles, commentaries, notes, perspectives, and communications), each of which fulfills some aspect of the journal’s mission. The journal’s constituencies define the content and what level of expertise is being targeted. A flagship journal is likely to publish across all areas of chemistry and other sciences. Furthermore, the expectations for quality (in addition to novelty and utility) raise the level of expectation from the editors, reviewers, and readers.

Given the balance among all those requirements, in addition to a higher level of competition, it is not surprising that it is more difficult to get your submission published there. Journals with more specialized content offer similar challenges, although the audience might be more uniform, at least from the context of the subject matter.

However, the potential for effective communication (in addition to appropriate content) determines where an author publishes and where a reader seeks information appropriate to his or her needs. The contents of a journal contribution are prescribed by the journal and its author guidelines.

For more information about preprints, books, monographs, and conference proceedings, please refer to section 2.2.1  of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.