Advancing with Advances- How to Publish and not Perish (Part 4)

How are papers assessed by academic editors at RSC Advances

Insights from editors handling computational chemistry papers

We are delighted to continue sharing with you publishing tips and tricks from our editors.

Meet the Editor:

Professor Megan O’Mara is a group leader at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology. She handles papers in the areas of computational biochemistry, biophysics, structural biology, and drug discovery.

Professor Megan O’Mara

1. What is the most common reason for rejecting a manuscript without review?
I review a lot of computational and biomolecular papers. My most common reason for rejecting a manuscript without review is it doesn’t contain sufficient chemistry to make an impact in the field of chemistry. I often get papers that focus on the cell biology of a particular process. While this is interesting, it doesn’t contribute to the chemistry. Likewise, method development papers and docking studies are often written from a perspective that does not emphasise or provide new insights into the chemistry (including biochemistry) of the research.

2. What is the best piece of advice you could give a submitting author?
For computational papers, make sure you introduce the problem and experimental rationale behind your study. Emphasise the chemical basis of the results and give evidence for how your studies provides additional evidence into the chemical basis of a process.

Meet the Editor:

Dr Giacomo Saielli, is a senior researcher at the University of Padova, Italy and is an expert in computational materials chemistry, gels and soft matter.

Dr Giacomo Saielli

1. What is the most common reason for rejecting a manuscript without review?
There are two types of manuscript that I reject without peer review.
The first type is concerned with manuscripts that have nothing to do with chemistry. It does not happen very often, but sometimes I receive papers dealing with mechanical engineering, geology, mathematics. It might be the case that a vague relationship with chemistry can eventually be found in the paper (after all, the only truly chemical-free type of matter are probably neutron stars), but such relationship is so weak that I cannot take the work as a chemistry paper. Often in these cases I also note that none of the references cite a chemistry journal, which is also an indication that RSC Advances is not the right choice. Of course, interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary works with a significant chemistry component are welcome, since these highlight the role of chemistry within the other sciences.

The second type of manuscript is – and this is rather obvious – papers where the work is really poor from a scientific point of view. This might happen with computational and experimental works alike, but since my area of expertise is computational chemistry it occurs to me more often to find computational papers, rather than experimental papers, in this category. In the majority of such cases, the main point is not that the work is wrong, often the computational protocol is correctly applied. However, that alone is not enough to make good science. Due to the availability of many computational chemistry software, it can happen that the Authors correctly solve a problem that had been already solved, maybe with a slightly different method, in the literature, sometime several years ago. Therefore the novelty is very low.

2. What is the best piece of advice you could give a submitting author?
Based on my comments above, my first recommendation for Authors is to make sure that the manuscript is dealing with chemistry and it has a potential interest for the chemistry community. It should be clear for the Authors that the “C” in RSC Advances means Chemistry.
The second recommendation is to make clear what the scientific issues that the Authors wish to discuss are and how they have been addressed in the published literature: do we really need another quantum chemical calculation of the energy/structure of this particular molecule or another molecular dynamics simulation of this particular material? Maybe yes, but it should be stated clearly why and what new insights the calculations are revealing.

Meet the Editor:

Dr Pablo A. Denis is based at the Faculty of Chemistry of the Universidad de la Republica Oriental del Uruguay (UDELAR) and handles papers in the field of computational nanoscience.

Dr Pablo Denis

1. What is the most common reason for rejecting a manuscript without review?

The most common reason for my rejections without review is that the authors did not perform a complete investigation of the literature, and a large part of the results were published previously.

2. What is the best piece of advice you could give a submitting author?

My best piece of advice is related to point 1. I strongly recommend performing an extensive investigation of the literature and squaring the results in the context of the literature. By doing so, the authors can decide themselves if the work is worth publishing and where.
Publishing trick: Making an attractive graphical abstract!

We hope that you find these insights from Megan, Giacomo and Pablo useful while preparing your next manuscript!

Tune in next week for  yet more insights from our academic Associate Editors !

You are welcome to send in any questions you have about peer-review or publishing to or post them on Twitter @RSCAdvances #AdvancingWithAdvances.

Don’t miss out on our previous tips on how to publish and not perish below:

Advancing with Advances – Part 1

Advancing with Advances – Part 2

Advancing with Advances – Part 3



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