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FAQ: The Journal of ASTM International

by Sheldon Dean

This month, ASTM began online publication of its new Journal of ASTM International. Editor in chief Sheldon Dean sat down recently to answer some frequently asked questions about the new journal.

(To subscribe to the Journal of ASTM International, click here or contact ASTM Customer Service (phone: 610/832-9585)).

Why is ASTM publishing another journal? We already have the Journal of Testing and Evaluation and several other specialized journals.

The new Journal of ASTM International will replace Special Technical Publications, the volumes that have been used for many years to report the research results from ASTM symposia that are so important to standards development. STPs have been popular vehicles, with more than 1,400 volumes published to date.

If the STP program has been so successful, why replace it with a journal that has no history?

JAI is not just another journal. It is an online journal of the highest quality that will bring a number of important benefits to the Society and to its authors. Although the STP program has been popular with technical committees that are planning symposia, it has experienced declining sales and the high costs associated with small-volume publications. In addition, indexing services do not index publications that are not part of a periodical, and so STPs have not been indexed by such services as ISI’s Science Citation Index.

STPs have been an attractive way to group papers on a specific topic, but often the quality of the papers has been relaxed in order to increase the size of the book. Another problem with the STP approach is that the book cannot be published until the last paper has completed the peer review and revision processes. As a result, the availability of the book and its valuable papers is delayed. Most STPs require more than one year to complete and some require more than two years. JAI’s online format offers the publication of each paper as soon as the peer review and editorial processes are completed for that one paper.

What subject areas will JAI cover?

All of the subject areas covered by ASTM International’s technical committees may be included in JAI. However, JAI will not compete with the existing ASTM journals that are currently successful such as the Geotechnical Testing Journal and the Journal of Testing and Evaluation. For JAI, we have established seven areas with associate editors responsible for these areas; see the table. Each associate editor has been assigned to cover a number of ASTM’s technical committees.

Considering the number of papers that ASTM now publishes in STPs, how does JAI expect to handle anything near this volume with a plan of 150 papers per year?

That is a very good question. Initially we expect that the STP program will handle the bulk of the excess. However, in the longer term I believe that JAI will be expanded to become a much larger journal. How large will depend upon how JAI is received and how well we meet our goals. So far the response has been very encouraging, but my crystal ball is not clear enough to be able to anticipate how it will look in five years.

What are the duties of the associate editors?

The associate editors are responsible for determining if papers submitted are covered under the scope of JAI (see sidebar opposite), and then to find reviewers for the papers. The associate editors ensure that the papers complete the peer review and revision process. Each associate editor has a group of editorial board members to provide assistance in covering the wide scope of his or her area. Selecting these editorial board members and evaluating them are also part of the associate editor’s responsibilities.

What about the quality of papers published by JAI? What do you expect the rejection rate to be?

Our goal is to have JAI meet the highest standards for technical quality. In other words, we want to have all of the papers provide important information that has a long shelf life and is definitive in influencing the technology in the subject area. We do not have any preconceived notions on rejection rates, and we hope that all papers that are received will be of a high enough quality to be published.

Does JAI accept unsolicited papers?

Absolutely. Our goal is to receive a steady stream of unsolicited papers. This is a requirement of indexing services for journals, and we are committed to including these papers in the journal. We will also be soliciting papers from technical committees. The other source of papers will be ASTM’s symposia series, and we will be looking to include selected papers from this source.

What will you do about the STPs that have already been planned?

Any STP that has been scheduled will be published. We plan to publish some of the papers in JAI before the STP is completed. In that case the paper would be a reprint in the STP.

What benefits does JAI offer to authors?

In addition to the possibility that indexing services will recognize JAI’s format and rapid publication, we anticipate that it will be an easy matter to include color either in photographs or in charts and graphs. This makes the articles more attractive and provides a more interesting presentation.

Regarding the peer review and revision process, one slow step is often the author’s revisions. However, because each paper in JAI will be published upon completion of its own peer review and revision process rather than waiting for that of other papers in a series, each author can control his or her paper’s destiny by responding in a timely manner with revisions.

What benefits will subscribers receive?

Clearly, libraries and diverse technical organizations will be interested in this electronic journal where they may search across the topics and find the papers they are interested in reading. Individuals who subscribe can access as many papers as they like and will have unlimited access to current and past issues. We plan to have discussions of papers as part of the journal, which could be linked to the original paper, so that the readers could easily retrieve the paper to follow the comments of the discussion provider.

The Journal of ASTM International is a significant move for ASTM International. It is an opportunity for the publications program to take advantage of the Internet and make its most important research results available to a worldwide audience. Research is the key to developing and improving standards, so making the results of this research more easily available should give ASTM members a real advantage in the standards development arena. This journal will also serve as a benchmark for other technical organizations that are dealing with the challenges of publishing in the information age. We appreciate your support of this new venture. //

Copyright 2004, ASTM International

Sheldon W. Dean, president of Dean Corrosion Technology, Inc., Allentown, Pa., and member of ASTM Committee G01 on Corrosion of Metals, is editor in chief of the Journal of ASTM International.

The JAI is a multi-disciplinary forum to serve the international scientific and engineering community through the timely publication of the results of original research and critical review articles in the physical and life sciences and engineering technologies. These peer-reviewed papers cover diverse topics relevant to the science and research that establish the foundation for standards development within ASTM International.

Editorial Objectives:
1) To publish theoretical and empirical models of the physical, chemical, and mechanical behavior of materials, processes, and systems.
2) To report on experimental investigations to characterize the performance of materials, processes, and products.