Chemical Science Reviewer Spotlight – January 2024

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 Dr Clara García Astrain, Professor Phil Yates, Professor Jianfang Wang and Prof. Dr. Katja Heinze. We asked our reviewers a few questions about what they enjoy about reviewing, and their thoughts on how to provide a useful review.



Biography image of Dr Clara García Astrain.

Dr Clara García Astrain, CIC biomaGUNE. Dr Clara García Astrain specializes in the development of polymer-based materials, with a particular focus on hydrogels designed for sensing and imaging applications, particularly within the context of 3D cell models.


Biography image of Professor Phil Yates.

Professor Phil Yates, Oregon Health & Science University. Professor Phil Yates’s research focuses on two main areas: 1) Developing genome-scale genetic screening platforms for Leishmania parasites, which cause a suite of Neglected Tropical Diseases in humans; and 2) Understanding the roles of long noncoding RNAs and RNA binding proteins in chromosome replication and stability in humans.


Biography image of Professor Jianfang Wang.

Professor Jianfang Wang, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Professor Jianfang Wang’s research currently focuses mainly on the use of localized surface plasmon resonance to control the light emissions of two-dimensional materials and to drive the artificial photofixation of nitrogen.


Biography image of Prof. Dr. Katja Heinze.

Prof. Dr. Katja Heinze, Johannes Gutenberg-University. Prof. Dr. Katja Heinze’s group develops and investigates novel photoactive or luminescent metal complexes, preferably made from abundant elements. They use state-of-the-art synthesis procedures, ultrafast spectroscopy and high-level quantumchemical calculations.


What encouraged you to review for Chemical Science?

Professor Jianfang Wang: There are three main reasons. (i) Chemical Science is a decent journal. It publishes high-quality works. Many of its published papers are related to my own current research interests. (ii) The editors of the journal are very professional. They always send me manuscripts whose topics are highly relevant to my current research interests. (iii) I can learn the newest developments in the research fields that are related to my current research interest.

Professor Phil Yates: I was approached by a Chemical Science editor that was aware of my research interests to review a paper particularly congruent with my expertise. Given the excellent reputation of Chemical Science, and the fact that I routinely scan new issues to learn about cool new chemical biology tools, I was happy to serve as a reviewer.

Prof. Dr. Katja Heinze: The highly interesting topics of the manuscripts and my curiosity to learn more about the latest developments in my field.

Dr Clara García Astrain: Reviewing for Chemical Science allows me to keep up to date with the latest developments not only in my field but also in other research fields and contribute to the advancement of knowledge. Reviewing also enhances my analytical and critical thinking skills, contributing to my growth as a scientist.


What do you enjoy most about reviewing?

Professor Jianfang Wang: I can learn the newest developments in the research fields that I am interested in.

Dr Clara García Astrain: I like contributing to the scientific community by playing a role in maintaining the quality and integrity of scientific literature. Reviewing also exposes me to diverse methodologies and perspectives, expanding my understanding of different approaches to research. I also find rewarding to guide authors towards improving their work.

Professor Phil Yates: I really enjoy learning about new science and taking a deep dive into a topic that is not my own research for a change. Like many researchers, I don’t necessarily have time to thoroughly digest every paper I read. However, when I’m reviewing a paper I carefully read every section (often several times), dissect every figure, and explore multiple background papers. I always learn something new as part of the review process.

Prof. Dr. Katja Heinze: Personally, I like most to deeply dive into a novel aspect of research, to learn about novel results and to follow the author’s line of arguments.


Do you have any advice to our readers seeking publication in Chemical Science on what makes a good paper?

Prof. Dr. Katja Heinze: Identify a problem and then try to describe the way how the problem was solved in clear concise fashion.


What are you looking for in a paper that you can recommend for acceptance in Chemical Science?

Professor Jianfang Wang: I consider two main factors. (i) Novelty of the research work. (ii) Quality of the research work.

Dr Clara García Astrain: I prioritize assessing the novelty and significance of the work, ensuring its relevance to the Chemical Science readership. The paper should be original and contribute to the field of research. Then, I also consider the way the study was carried out in terms of methodology and the strong alignment between data and results. Lastly, clarity is a must to effectively communicate the results and their implications to the audience.


What would you recommend to new reviewers to ensure their report is helpful?

Professor Phil Yates: I would advise new reviewers to follow the “Reviewer’s Golden Rule”: critique others as you would like others to critique you. An important part of this, at least for me, is to try to provide constructive criticism rather than simply point out weaknesses. For example, if a conclusion made by the authors is not sufficiently supported by the data, clearly explain why not and provide examples of the types of data or experiments required. It may seem obvious, but we’ve all had vague and unhelpful reviews. Strive to be the kind of reviewer that makes papers better; don’t just look for reasons to reject a manuscript.


What has been your biggest learning point from reviewing?

Dr Clara García Astrain: I think by biggest learning point from reviewing is to develop critical evaluation skills and identify strengths and weaknesses. I have also learned to improve my communication skills to provide constructive feedback to authors in a clear and supportive manner.


How do you balance reviewing with your other activities?

Professor Jianfang Wang: I turn down manuscript review invitations from journals to which I have never submitted any manuscripts. I ask for the extension of the report due date when I am busy with my other duties.


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!

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