Author Archive

Advancing with Advances- How to Publish and not Perish (Part 7): More Publishing Tips from Academic Editors

What Can You Do to Improve Your Manuscript? 

Two Experienced Associate Editors offer words of Advice. 

This week we are going to hear from two more Associate Editors who offer their useful advise in how to improve your manuscripts chances of acceptance.

Meet the Editor:

Professor Steven McIntosh is based at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, USA. He handles papers focused on electrochemistry and catalysis.

 

Professor Steven McIntosh, Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, USA

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

There are a few reasons I reject manuscripts without review. The most common is a lack of fit for the journal with the manuscript not describing a true advance in chemistry. Some manuscripts fall down at the ”advance’ category in that they report work that is reproducing well-established results or appearing as a more preliminary investigation rather than a thorough investigation in a new area. Other manuscripts are better suited to specialized journals in other fields, I commonly reject manuscripts that are more focused on mechanical or chemical engineering topics rather than chemistry.

The other reason I reject manuscripts without review is when the manuscript clearly does not meet the depth of study required for the journal. Some submitted manuscripts contain experimental results without a supportive contextual discussion and literature review. A manuscript should have a narrative theme that describes and supports the claimed scientific advance.

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

My advice is to clearly make the case that the work is an advance over previous studies. This requires the author to describe the existing state of the art understanding, methodology, or performance level and then clearly show that their work advances beyond this. This requires comparison between their work and the existing state of the art in a clearly presented set of results. I’d also say not to forget to establish trends in your experimental data and provide negative tests. This can be as simple as providing data showing performance in the presence/absence of individual components or as a function of composition. Often these trends and comparisons are the key to establishing the purported advance in our understanding.

 

Meet the Editor:

 

Dr. Lubomír Rulíšek is based at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague (IOCB). He regularly handles manuscripts in computational and theoretical chemistry.

Dr. Lubomír Rulíšek, Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague

  1. What are your most common reasons for rejecting a manuscript without review?

As an Associate Editor handling mostly manuscripts from the broad field of molecular modelling in biochemistry, biology, and material chemistry; I tend to reject manuscripts that do not have present the clear validation of the computed data.

Typically, a modelling/docking study is presented, carried out with fairly standard computer software, that ends with reporting computed free energies of binding for a series of (computationally) tested compounds. It ends with the statement: “Our modelling/docking study showed a potential of the compound X and Y to be the great inhibitor of the enzyme Y (where Y is very often one of the SARS-CoV-2 enzymes these days)” Then, then paper typically contains a very descriptive paragraphs of all interactions, detailed discussion of the computed data, etc. However, in my eyes, without experimental validation of the computed data, the results are meaningless; given the inaccuracies of the force-field based protocols. I am not saying that I expect the authors to do the experiment, but to clearly and convincingly show on a known series of compounds tested on the same target with the known experimental binding constants that the used protocol works and the data thus can be trusted. The second typical examples of the manuscript that I reject are those that are out of scope. This is mostly in material chemistry and such manuscripts almost entirely lack chemistry: molecules, compounds, structures, and their transformations, which is in my eyes the definition of chemistry.

  1. What would be your best piece of advice to a submitting author?

To read their paper with the critical eyes and ask yourself two questions: (1) Do I want to publish this manuscript, just to add one item onto my list of publications (requested, in some countries, by committees, grant agencies, etc.) or do I report a truly exciting science that I enjoy? (2) Does anybody else than myself and co-authors of the paper care about the results presented therein?

 

Tune in next week for our final blog with our academic Associate Editors! However, do not fear, we will be back with Bob Baker on how to improve your cover letter in a couple of weeks!

You are welcome to send in any questions you have about peer-review or publishing to advances-rsc@rsc.org 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): featuring Professor Robert Baker (Trinity College Dublin)

Advancing with Advances (Part 2): featuring editorial insights from staff editors at RSC Advances

Advancing with Advances (Part 3): featuring  Professor Brenno A.D. Neto (Universidade de Brasília, Brazil) Dr. Donna Arnold (University of Kent, UK), and Professor Nestor Mariano Correa (Universidad Nacional de Rio Cuarto, Argentina)

Advancing with Advances (Part 4): featuring Professor Megan O’Mara (Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology), Dr Giacomo Saielli (University of Padova, Italy), and Dr Pablo Denis (Universidad de la Republica Oriental del Uruguay)

Advancing with Advances (Part 5): featuring Professor Franck Dumeignil (University of Lille, France) Professor Xi Chen (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China), and Professor Manojit Pal (Dr Reddy’s Institute of Life Sciences, India)

Advancing with Advances (Part 6): featuring Dr. Ranjit Koodali (Western Kentucky University, USA), Professor Luigi Vaccaro ( University of Perugia, Italy), and Professor Thierry Ollevier, (Université Laval, Québec Canada)

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Advancing with Advances – How to Publish and not Perish (part 3)

Interviews with Associate Editors

Our Associate Editors offer some Advice

 

At RSC Advances we have a team of seventy hard working Associate Editors who handle your manuscript, from initial assessment to their final decision.

To gain more insight into the world of peer-review, we have asked our Associate Editors two questions:

  1. What are your most common reasons for rejecting a manuscript without review?
  2. What would be your best piece of advice to a submitting author?

Here are what some of our Associate Editors had to say:

 

Professor Brenno A.D. Neto, Universidade de Brasília, Brazil

     1. What are your most common reasons for rejecting a manuscript without review?

I see two main reasons to deny an article for publication without peer-review. The first reason is because it actually lacks the expected advance/impact in the subject of the submitted work; and it is not rare to see these manuscripts. The second reason is even more common in those rejected manuscripts I handle as an Editor, that is, when the expected characterizations of the claimed structures are missing or are incomplete. Several mistakes could be avoided with proper characterizations.

2. What would be your best piece of advice to a submitting author?

Be clear and objective when you write the cover letter. Always check if you are presenting/submitting a well-composed manuscript. This is indeed very important! Also, remember that Science should speak by itself, thus the use of self-promoting words (or buzzwords) in general only backfires on authors.

 

Dr. Donna Arnold, University of Kent, UK 

     1. What are your most common reasons for rejecting a manuscript without review?

One of the most common reasons I reject manuscripts at prescreen (reject without peer review) is for lack of novelty and impact. This is often that there is no cover letter stating what the novelty and impact of the work is. The second reason is usually due to scope. It is important to consider if RSC Advances is the right place for the work. Again this is something which can be addressed in a good cover letter!

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

A couple of pieces of advice beyond a good cover letter. Authors need to consider if RSC is the right place for the work they want to share. With any manuscript the most important thing for the research is for the manuscript to reach the right audience. Sometimes it is tempting to make these decisions based on metrics rather than where the work might reach the best audience. RSC Advances has a wide readership, a good question to ask yourself is, is the work of wide interest or would the work be better in a more focussed journal. Also remember, Associate Editors do look up the work/materials in Web of Science to see what has been done previously in the area. This give the context for the work and we are looking to see if the work extends the current state-of-the-art, has impact, or if it is incremental. Again, it is good to ask yourself this question before you submit. These are questions I ask about my own manuscripts and information, which I include in the cover letter to help convince the editors to consider my work.

 

Professor Nestor Mariano Correa, Universidad Nacional de Rio Cuarto, Argentina

     1. What are your most common reasons for rejecting a manuscript without review?

When a manuscript arrives at my desk the first thing that I do is see how different from what is already known in this subject. I expect to read it in the cover letter but, this does not always happen. Thus, in my case, this is the main reason for rejecting without review: the lack of originality of the work.

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

My advice to all the authors that want to send a manuscript to RSC Advances is to take the time to prepare a good cover letter, indicating the advances in the field that the work will do and, to clearly stress the novelties from works already published. A good (short) abstract, introduction that clearly highlights the goals of the work, and concise and convincing conclusions are always welcome.

 

We want to thank Brenno, Donna and Nestor for providing such informative answers, and we hope you find them useful in your next submission to RSC Advances!

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

Tune in next week for more interviews with our Associate Editors where they discuss their most common reasons for rejecting manuscripts and reveal more publishing tips!

 

If there is something you would like covered in our next article, please send in any questions you have about peer-review or publishing to advances-rsc@rsc.org or post them on Twitter @RSCAdvances #AdvancingWithAdvances.

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An Interview with Shirley Nakagaki, President of the Brazilian Chemical Society

We are delighted to announce that Shirley Nakagaki, one of our Editorial Board members, has been elected as president of the Brazilian Chemical Society.  

This makes Shirley the second ever female researcher to be president of this society in the forty-five years it has been active. To celebrate this achievement, we asked Shirley the following questions, and we hope you find her answers as motivating as we do!

  1. Can you explain your area of research for a non-specialist in the area?

My main interest lies in the study (preparation, characterization and application) of molecules called metalloporphyrins. The key application of these molecules in my research group is in the preparation of compounds known as catalysts (a kind of chemical that accelerates chemical reactions) for oxidation, sequential and esterification reactions. For example, an important oxidation reaction is one that results in an acid species (adipic acid) which is one of the reactants that produces polymeric fibres like nylon. These fibres are used in a range of materials from pantyhose to very sophisticated devices that are part of the International Space Station. In some cases, the catalytic species I study and develop are inspired by biological systems that act as catalysts, in a chemical model known as biomimetic chemistry. In particular, this means that my compounds that act as catalysts can react in a similar way to enzymes, a chemical component found in very efficient biological systems that accelerate reactions necessary to keep organisms alive. In some cases, the catalytic species I study and develop are inspired by biological systems in a chemical model known as biomimetic chemistry. This means my compounds act as catalysts, in a very similar way to enzymes.

  1. What work are you the proudest of?

Fortunately, I can say that I am proud of all my work developed in my 30-year career in the chemical sciences. I have been a supervisor to many chemistry students, supporting them through their undergraduate projects, master’s degree dissertations and PhD theses. These projects have resulted in different products such as patents and scientific papers. However, the education of new chemistry professionals, be it researchers or chemistry professors, is probably my most important job.

  1. What do you find motivating?

My motivation comes from different parts. Firstly, through being a professor, my motivation comes from my students in the classroom or in the lab. When they ask me about chemistry in general or particularly inorganic chemistry, I find motivation in trying to explain to them in the best way that they can solve whatever doubts they have. Another source of motivation comes from realizing every day, and at the end of every paper I read, that there are many things we still do not know and cannot explain in the light of science, particularly in the chemical sciences. The chemical knowledge is vast and fascinating. Everything around us, in some way, involves a chemical process that can or will be explained, either now or in some distant future, based on the advance of the scientific knowledge.

  1. How did your career path lead you to become elected as the president of the Brazilian Chemical Society?

When I was a chemistry undergraduate student in Sao Paulo University, Ribeirao Preto city campus (countryside part of the Sao Paulo State), I joined Professor Yassuko Iamamoto’s research group with a scholarship to work in the development of catalysts for oxidation reactions. Our first research results were presented in the annual meeting of the SBQ – (Brazilian Chemical Society) of which I became an associate in 1983. After that, every year I attended the annual meeting and presented the research results of my master’s degree or PhD studies. After I finished my graduate school, I joined Federal University of Paraná (a southern state in Brazil) and created my own research group. In the SBQ I joined as a director in the inorganic chemistry division, since I believed and continue to believe that I can contribute with my work to build a strong and big Brazilian chemical society that represents the strength of the chemical science in Brazilian universities as well as Brazilian research centres.

  1. What will your role entail and what are you aiming to achieve?

Firstly, I believe that my role as president of the SBQ is to contribute daily to the growth of our society and to foster the good work of the previous 21 presidents. In addition, I have a big responsibility to show young chemists, graduate and undergraduate students, the importance of our society as a civil organization. They are a voice to be heard in issues in which the chemical community can contribute to the greater society. We also hope that our voice can be one that includes, fosters, and promotes quality scientific discussion, being plural, diverse and inclusive.

  1. What are the biggest challenges facing the Brazilian Chemistry Community?

Regarding the chemical sciences, there are many challenges we face. For one, providing quality scientific education for young people in a country with continental figures and big social and income inequalities. We find a good, international level education in one part of the country and a complete lack of basic infrastructure in other parts. Regarding the scientific research, we face low and declining levels of investment, which affects the continuity of good research programs. We face many challenges to become the country we dream of.

  1. What are the most exciting areas in the Brazilian Chemistry Community?

We have many strong research areas in Brazil. These include using natural products to explore our big biodiversity, the preparation and use of new materials, and we have excellent researchers making contributions to the new and alternative energies. In addition, given our great natural resource reserve, we have brilliant researchers working on the extraction of new substances from our biodiverse biomes and developing new pharmacological alternatives from these results. Some of these natural findings are already being prepared in our universities. Our scientific community is very versatile and creative. Despite receiving little financial support, we have produced excellent results. This can be seen in the quality of our Brazilian researchers’ publications around the world. For example, I can quote the Brazilian Science Panorama 2015-2020 report from the Science, Technology and Innovation Observatory (CGEE- OCTI), which shows the Brazilian production of scientific research papers grew 32% in 2020 in comparison to 2015, while the global production only grew 27%. During these five years more than 11 million papers were indexed in Web of Science (WoS), of which 372 thousand are papers with at least one author linked to our Brazilian institutions, giving us the 13th position in global production, surpassing Russia (14th), Iran (15th), the Netherlands (16th) and Turkey (17th). In 2020, this participation reached 3.2% of global scientific research production. These figures are considering scientific papers as a whole, but according to WoS, chemistry is the second area of research in number of indexed papers, lagging only behind the engineering area. These are very relevant figures as it shows the strength of chemistry in Brazilian scientific research, which is concentrated mostly in public universities where our SBQ associates work.

  1. How does it feel being the 2nd woman to hold this position and how is this going to inspire a younger generation of female chemists?

I can see in our long line of SBQ female associates so many chemists that could be in my place. Women are about 50% of all SBQ associates. We have excellent scientists, chemical educators and researchers in our pool of associates. I am not the first female president; I am only the second one in this rough path opened by Prof. Vanderlan Bolzani. But, paraphrasing vice-president Kamala Harris, “I will make sure I will not be the last”. Hopefully, my work will serve as an example and inspiration so that women in SBQ can see that it is possible to be in my position and occupy this space, if we serve with dedication and love to the SBQ.

  1. You have been a member of the RSC Advances Editorial Board since September 2020. What would you say are the biggest strengths of the journal?

Being a member of the RSC Advances Editorial Board has been an interesting and significant experience, considering the size and relevance of the RSC to the world and to the SBQ. Through the years both societies have not only kept good relations but developed key partnerships of research. From my remote participation on the meetings (due to the new coronavirus pandemic) I gathered that the main interest of this journal is to deliver papers of unquestionable scientific quality through an open access journal. On this aspect, the journal invests greatly in its editorial board, giving them adequate support for their job. Moreover, I found it very positive the journal’s actions towards making it more inclusive and transparent.

  1. What do you hope to achieve in your career over the next 10 years?

What I hope to achieve in my career over the next 10 years is continuous progress both from scientific and educational standpoints. I hope to continue to investigate multifunctional catalytic solids aimed at sequential reactions as opposed to single process catalysts. I believe they are more adequate alternatives considering the reduction in cost, time and use of available resources during the preparation of reactions. Furthermore, shaping new generations of chemists has always been a career goal of mine, so I hope I can continue to give classes and participate in the education and formation of professionals in this area of science that is dear to my heart, Chemistry!

Please join me in extending our congratulations to Shirley for this achievement. We hope you continue to inspire the next generation of chemists!

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Introduction to Advancing with Advances: How to publish and not perish?

 

A blog series on how manuscripts are rejected at RSC Advances.

Over the five next weeks, we will be releasing a new post every Wednesday in collaboration with Professor Robert Baker, Trinity College, Dublin who is an experienced Associate Editor and member of the RSC Advances Editorial Board. We will be shedding light on why manuscripts are rejected from RSC Advances and what you could do as an author to increase your chances of acceptance.

We have lined up for you:

  • An introduction from Prof. Baker, who will draw on his experiences as an author and Associate Editor on how editors assess manuscripts.
  • Perspectives from in-house Editors on why manuscripts are rejected without peer-review.
  • Associate Editors at RSC Advances, who work in different research areas, reveal why they reject manuscripts and share their best advice with authors.
  • Tip and tricks on how not to write cover letters and respond to reviewer reports.
  • And in our final post, Professor Baker will summarise how small changes in the way research is presented could improve your manuscript.

I hope you are as excited as we are about this series, and we hope it will be helpful to anyone hoping to submit to RSC Advances.  You are welcome to send in any questions you have about peer-review or publishing to advances-rsc@rsc.org.

Tune in next week for our first post from Professor Baker!

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Research Infographic: Excess chemical potential of thiophene in [C4MIM] [BF4, Cl, Br, CH3COO] ionic liquids, determined by molecular simulations

Ionic liquids are considered green solvents and can be used to extract sulfur based compounds in the desulfurization of fuels.

Gallo et al. have published an interesting research article investigating the excess chemical potential of a of imidazolium-based ionic liquids (ILs) using classical molecular dynamic simulations.

Find out more in the open access article:

Excess chemical potential of thiophene in [C4MIM] [BF4, Cl, Br, CH3COO] ionic liquids, determined by molecular simulations

Marco Gallo et al. RSC Adv., 2021,11, 29394-29406

Tweet about it here!

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RSC Advances Popular Advances – an Interview with Ponnadurai Ramasami

We are very pleased to introduce Professor Ponnadurai Ramasami, who is joint corresponding author on the paper, Theoretical study of a derivative of chlorophosphine with aliphatic and aromatic Grignard reagents: SN2@P or the novel SN2@Cl followed by SN2@C?. The manuscript was well received by reviewers and was handpicked by our reviewers and handling editors to be part of our Popular Advances collection.  Ponnadurai told us more about the work that went into this article and what he hopes to achieve in the future. You can find out more about the authors and their article below. To view our other Popular Advances, please explore our collection here.

 

Professor Ponnadurai Ramasami, CSci, CChem, FRSC, FICCE, MMast, received his PhD in Physical Chemistry and became full Professor in 2013. He leads the Computational Chemistry Group, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science at the University of Mauritius. The research group focuses on the use of computational methods to solve chemistry and interdisciplinary problems. The group is particularly interested in collaborating with experimentalists, and they use computational methods to complement experimental research. He has already published 260 research papers in peer-reviewed journals and he has edited several books. He is the chairman of the annual Virtual Conference on Chemistry and its Applications.

 

 

 

 

 

Could you briefly explain the focus of your article to the non-specialist (in one or two sentences only) and why it is of current interest?

The focus of the article is the computational investigation of SN2 reactions in organic molecules which contain both phosphorus and chlorine atoms.

The SN2 reaction mechanism was discovered in the 1930’s by scientists Hughes and Ingold, and since then has been used in a number of syntheses; however, it is still of current interest as new aspects of this mechanism, at the molecular level, are still being discovered. These aspects include new sites of nucleophilic attack which are not immediately chemically intuitive.

How big an impact could your results potentially have?

In textbooks, SN2 reactions are defined in a firm way, often taking the example of SN2 at the carbon atom, detailing hill-shaped potential energy surfaces and nucleophilic attack at one specific atom centre. However, our research indicates that these well-established facts may change. Potential energy surfaces may take the shape of single, double or triple wells or a combination of hill and well shapes. The most preferred site of nucleophilic attack may change according to what neighbouring groups are present in the molecule of interest. It is important to include and try to explain these differences in chemistry textbooks.

Could you explain the motivation behind this study?

The Computational Chemistry Group of the University of Mauritius (CCUoM) was set up in 2003 in the Department of Chemistry. Our interest has always been on the investigation of different aspects of reaction mechanisms. We have a programme to study SN2 reaction mechanisms, which resulted in two PhD graduates and several publications. We started by studying the effect of different nucleophiles. Another part of the programme involved studying SN2 reactions at different atoms within one molecule. This started in 2017, when we came across one experimental study which involved SN2 at the phosphorus atom. We tried to explain the results of this experimental study using computational methods, which led us to discover SN2 at the chlorine atom.

In your opinion, what are the key design considerations for your study?

For SN2 reactions, the key design considerations involve the reactive atom centres, neighbouring groups, the solvent and the nucleophiles. These may be used to tune reactions to design molecules of interest.

Which part of the work towards this paper proved to be most challenging?

Working with bulky molecules was the most challenging part. Computations involving bulky molecules are demanding in terms of computational cost. It is often challenging to strike the right balance between computational cost and accuracy of results.

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

When this research project started, it was about SN2 reactions at the phosphorus atom but along the research journey, we stumbled on the SN2 at the chlorine atom, which offers a new world of possibilities to investigate. The possibilities are what we are most excited about.

What is the next step? What work is planned?

Our next projects will involve changing key factors in the SN2 reaction mechanism involving the chlorine atom and determining the effect. We are considering changing the nucleophiles which we investigated, modifying the solvent system, and changing neighbouring groups. We are also considering investigating SN2 reactions at other reactive atoms, such as bromine and iodine.

 

Theoretical study of a derivative of chlorophosphine with aliphatic and aromatic Grignard reagents: SN2@P or the novel SN2@Cl followed by SN2@C?

Nandini Savoo,a   Lydia Rhyman*ab  and  Ponnadurai Ramasami*ab

 

 

 

 

Submit to RSC Advances today! Check out our author guidelines for information on our article types or find out more about the advantages of publishing in a Royal Society of Chemistry journal.

Keep up to date with our latest Popular Advances articles, Reviews, Collections & more by following us on Twitter. You can also keep informed by signing up to our E-Alerts.

 

 

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