To further thank and recognise the support from our excellent reviewer community, we are highlighting reviewers who have provided exceptional support to the journal over the past year.
This month, we’ll be highlighting Esther Heid, Nicholas White, Sarit Agasti and Sharon Neufeldt. We asked our reviewers a few questions about what they enjoy about reviewing, and their thoughts on how to provide a useful review.
Esther Heid, Technische Universität Wien. Esther’s research focuses on machine learning and heuristics to describe the properties of molecules and chemical reactions.
Nicholas White, Australian National University. Nicholas’ group are focussed on supramolecular chemistry. They are particularly interested in systems that can self-assemble in water, for example cage molecules and hydrogen bonded frameworks.
Sarit Agasti, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR). The central theme of Sarit’s research is ‘Molecular recognition in synthetic systems. Areas of application include super-resolution imaging, sensing, and developing new approaches for delivering and activating therapeutic materials.
Sharon Neufeldt, Montana State University. The Neufeldt lab’s research focuses on mechanistic organometallic chemistry, with a particular interest in controlling the selectivity of transition metal catalysts.
What encouraged you to review for Chemical Science?
Sharon Neufeldt: Chemical Science publishes a lot of work that is relevant to my group’s research interests, so I am generally interested in supporting this journal through peer review. Furthermore, my experience publishing in Chem. Sci. was really amazing – we received the most constructive and thorough reviewer comments I’ve ever had, which gave me a deeper appreciation of this journal’s review process.
Nicholas White: I think reviewing is an important part of the job. I submit papers and expect people to review them, so it’s only fair that I return the favour. I really like reviewing for Chemical Science in particular because most of the papers I review are high quality and interesting – they’re papers I’ll end up reading any way so it’s fun to review them.
What do you enjoy most about reviewing?
Esther Heid: I enjoy helping researchers improve their work by providing constructive comments. Furthermore, it is exciting to read about the newest research before it is actually published.
Sarit Agasti: Besides reading science first-hand, I enjoy giving critical thinking to an experimental outcome or an unusual finding. The thing about being a reviewer is that you get to clarify your doubts directly from the authors-which is precious.
What advice would you give a first-time author looking to maximise their chances of successful peer review?
Nicholas White: Minimise the hype! Reviewers are researchers themselves and can see through it straight away. Personally, if a paper starts with two paragraphs of hyperbole about improbable applications or changing the world or “paradigm shifts,” I get pretty grumpy. I’d much rather read a paper that probes an important question, is open about its limitations and comes to valid conclusions than one that makes outlandish claims. I’d also suggest being selective with your citations, huge lists of citations just make it harder to find the really relevant prior work.
Sharon Neufeldt: It’s so important to clearly articulate why your research matters and how it represents an advance in knowledge or application. If a reviewer happens to be one of the small number of other researchers in the world working on nearly the same thing, they will immediately recognize the importance without you having to spell it out. However, it’s more likely that one or more of your reviewers will be pretty unfamiliar with the specifics of the research area and can’t easily appreciate why your work is exciting unless you make it obvious.
What makes a paper truly stand out for you when reviewing a paper?
Esther Heid: In my opinion, high-quality manuscripts should be compelling, reproducible, and supported by data. A great piece of research might not get published if it is written poorly, has no clear message or is described insufficiently, thus constructing a compelling story is a must. A manuscript that is not reproducible due to missing information or code cannot produce a large impact on the community. Finally, a bold conclusion that is not or only partially supported by data might prove false later and hinder scientific advancement.
What has been your biggest learning point from reviewing?
Esther Heid: When writing a manuscript, I try to look at it also from the perspective of a reviewer: Is the message clear, interesting, and supported by data? Is the given information enough to reproduce all results? Through reviewing, I learned to focus on these important points.
How do you balance reviewing with your other activities?
Sarit Agasti: I usually give a few thorough readings before I am ready to write the comments. I try to include the reading part within my daily schedule of reading newly published articles. Once I am prepared to write the comments, I book the earliest empty slot in my calendar and finish the review.
Tune in next month to meet our next group of #ChemSciReviewers!
If you want to learn more about how we support our reviewers, check out our Reviewer Hub.
Interested in joining our ever-growing reviewer community? Apply here now!