Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Favorite Journals

One of my postdoctoral advisors had a policy about manuscript submissions: when he felt he was treated unfairly during the editorial process, he would refuse to submit to that journal again. You can imagine that high-profile journals had been long eradicated from his goto list. In fact, towards the end of his career, it is almost true that the sole journal left for his submissions is Canadian Mineralogist.  High quality journal, but limiting.  One of the many things I learned from this particular advisor is the value of not holding grudges—in the realm of scientific publishing of course, and more generally too.

The Journal of Applied Physics has a special place for me and I think for many in my field of high-pressure mineral physics.  While many of us are geophysicists, and mostly publish in Earth sciences related journals (and I have some favorites in that category too) we are also materials scientists and condensed matter physicists. Materials are neat, and even more so when compressed and heated to extreme conditions. There are interesting applications for high-pressure and -temperature research (hint: KaBoom!). And identical concepts and tools are brought to bear on the materials we study—mostly oxides and metals. If I have a contribution in applied materials physics, that is not PRL-level groundbreaking, then I often submit to JAP.

            Recently, a collaborator and I finished a tightly written manuscript on the high P,T behavior of Co metal. My assessment: technically challenging experiment, nice data, interesting analysis, useful for us and others, but not groundbreaking.  JAP is the perfect venue for this. JAP has published papers by others on the same material, and papers by me describing simililar measurements using similar methods on other materials. But yikes! When we went to submit, it appears that our contribution does not fit neatly in any of the available subcategories for manuscript submission.

The story ends happily. I sent a polite email to the editor-in-chief, asking if the intention is to exclude my field from the journal, and he responded quickly and favorably, saying no! Definitely not! The only intention was to modernize the table of contents, but not to exclude, and politely requested my input on how to refine the table of contents. The manuscript is submitted. Wish it well!

Web-of-science search of JAP plus "diamond anvil cell"
Web-of-science search under my name plus JAP.