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  1. Revitalizing Japanese physics

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    Japan is one of the world’s top countries for physics, but with research output falling, all is not as smooth as one might think. (iStock/Wavebreak Media)

    Welcome to the latest Physics World special report on Japan, which examines some of the challenges and opportunities facing Japanese physics.

    Physics World is published by IOP Publishing, which has a long relationship with the physics community in Japan, and this report is based in part on a week-long visit that we made to the country in November 2017. Organised with Kosei Kamata from the Tokyo office of IOP Publishing, we interviewed and held discussions with more than 30 physicists and policymakers, and visited notable labs such as RIKEN, Superkamiokande and the KAGRA gravitational-wave detector.

    The Physics World special reports, which have so far covered Brazil, China, Korea, India, Mexico and the USA, are designed to shine a light on physics in different nations around the globe. The message that we received from our visit to Japan is that while it has traditionally been one of the powerhouses of world physics – 13 Japanese physicists have so far won a Nobel prize – the country is losing its international competitive edge. This is reflected in a declining number of papers published in physics and stagnant research budgets.

    This report includes an interview with Yuko Harayama, a member of Japan’s Council for Science, Technology and Innovation, who advocates extra spending on science and doing more to attract foreign researchers. You can also read our interview with Yasuhiro Iye, executive director of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), who is worried that many potential physics students are being lured into other areas, such as biosciences and information science.

    Meanwhile, Tateo Arimoto, a senior Japanese policy expert, says that the country must now reform its education system and give greater priority to basic science in an attempt “to make it more open, flexible, inclusive”. One interesting effort on that front is the World Premier International Research Centre Initiative (WPI), which seeks to bring talented overseas scientists to the country. Funded through the JSPS, there are currently nine WPI research institutes, each of which is mandated to have at least 30% foreign researchers.

    However, Japan can be a difficult country for outsiders to settle in, especially for scientists with a partner or children. The country also suffers from a long-standing problem of “power harassment”, whereby bosses who don’t like certain staff can make their life tough. Help for international faculty is slowly improving thanks to the work of dedicated support officers at certain institutions, but much more needs to be done to make Japanese science truly international and to reverse the recent worrying decline in physics.

  2. flannel

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    Copyright © 2018 by IOP Publishing Ltd and individual contributors. All rights reserved.


    The contents of this magazine, including the views expressed above, are the responsibility of the Editor. They do not represent the views or policies of the Institute of Physics, except where explicitly stated.

  3. From acceptance to publication in just 24 hours

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    Following feedback from the community, IOP Publishing has introduced new processes to allow the accepted version of a journal manuscript to be made available online just 24 hours after acceptance.

    At this early stage the manuscript will be provided as a flat PDF with the figures and formatting as provided by the author. The manuscript will then be replaced with the final version of record once the article has been typeset and language-edited by specialist production editors.

    Once available online, the accepted manuscript will have a DOI and some basic information about the article, including the authors’ names and affiliations. This information will be registered with CrossRef and indexed by Google for discoverability, while relevant papers will also be indexed in PubMed as “ahead of print”. The DOI will remain the same when the final version of record is published, and the PubMed status will also be updated at this time.

    To take advantage of this service, authors must have completed and signed a copyright and publication agreement (copyright form) and also confirm that they have all permissions needed to include any third-party content.

    Authors will be able to opt out of accepted manuscript publication if they wish. When planning some promotional activity, for example, it can be useful to delay publication to allow time for the material to be prepared or to maintain an embargo period for journalists. Researchers currently engaging in IP or patent applications may also wish to opt out of accepted manuscripts.

  4. Print-on-demand now available for readers and authors

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    A reprint service introduced by IOP Publishing allows authors and readers to purchase high-quality printed copies of articles published on IOPscience. Any article with a PDF version can be reprinted with a minimum order of 25 copies, and all reprints are provided with a cover and in full colour.

    “We are pleased to offer an improved print-on-demand service to all our customers, whether that be an author or another customer wanting the reprint for promotional or educational use,” says Liz Martin, head of production. “This new service makes it easier for our customers to quickly get hold of an article and offers a superior final product.”

    Reprints can be purchased directly from the article abstract on IOPscience. Simply click on the
    “Buy this article in print” link within the Article Information section to place your order.

    For orders in excess of 250 copies, please contact

  5. IOP unveils editing service for authors

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    Helping hand IOP Editing Services will aid authors prepare their manuscript for submission.

    Expert editing and comprehensive support for manuscript preparation is now available to authors worldwide through IOP Editing Services. Authors can choose from a range of services, including English-language editing, translation services, plagiarism checking and technical review.

    “Excellent science can often be held back by poor formatting or language barriers,” comments Marc Gillett, head of publishing operations at IOP Publishing. “Our service will help authors feel confident when submitting their manuscripts, leading to high-quality scientific papers and world-class published research.”
    The service is the result of a partnership between IOP Publishing and Editage, a leader in English-
    language editing and publication support. It combines IOP Publishing’s expertise in physics and related disciplines with the manuscript preparation services offered by Editage.

    The service will be available to all authors, regardless of where they wish to publish. A range of pricing and delivery time options will allow authors to choose the level of assistance that best suits their needs.

    Each manuscript received by IOP Editing Services will be assigned to an editor or translator who specializes in the relevant discipline. A highly streamlined and stringent two-level check will ensure that the edited manuscript meets the authors’ requirements, and also that it meets international publication standards.

    “Readability, comprehension and scholarly value go hand-in-hand,” says Donald Samulack, president of US operations at Editage. “We feel that a well-written, well-edited paper can lead to the acceleration of scientific progress, and we strive toward that goal.”

  6. Multifunctional materials showcased in new journal

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    Serving the community Multifunctional Materials will feature research into the design and manufacture of materials with multiple functions.

    IOP Publishing has launched a journal to respond to the growing area of “multifunctional” materials, which have applications in energy, environmental sustainability, healthcare, aerospace, nanoelectronics, soft robotics and semiconductors. Called Multifunctional Materials, the journal is now open for submissions and will be free to read for individual users, universities and academic research institutes throughout 2017 and 2018.

    Multifunctional Materials is led by Andreas Lendlein, director of the Institute of Biomaterial Science at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht Centre for Materials and Coastal Research who is also based at Potsdam University, and Richard Trask from the University of Bath in the UK. According to Trask and Lendlein, Multifunctional Materials is a “timely new journal” that will bring together all aspects of the field to bridge the materials and systems communities involved with multifunctional design.

    The journal will include metamaterials; design and manufacture of materials for multifunctionality, morphing and adaptivity; and multifunctional materials designed with capabilities of intelligent systems, such as sensing and self-diagnosis. Also in the scope will be characterization methods for functions, multiscale modelling and computational materials engineering; plus novel applications of functional multi-materials.

    “We are very excited about the launch of another major addition to IOP’s materials science portfolio, and one that will further extend our publishing profile to an exciting and rapidly emerging new area,” says Tim Smith, associate director, journals, at IOP Publishing. “Our ambitions for Multifunctional Materials are high and a priority will be to develop the journal’s content, delivery and services in close consultation with the community to ensure that it meets the evolving needs of all aspects of the field.”

  7. IOP focuses on new innovations

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    Number crunching Peer-review facts and figures from IOP Publishing.

    Peer review is such an integral part of the scientific process that sometimes it is easy to take for granted. But IOP Publishing has been working on a number of initiatives that aim to improve the peer-review process for both referees and authors.

    One of the most ambitious is a trial of so-called double-blind peer review, in which the referee does not know who has submitted the paper. “Our usual model is single-blind, where the author doesn’t know who the reviewers are but the reviewers can see who the author is,” says Kim Eggleton, senior managing editor at IOP Publishing.

    In 2017 IOP ran a trial in which authors publishing in two IOP journals – Materials Research Express and Biomedical Physics and Engineering Express – could choose double-blind peer review. Following the trial, around 20% of authors had requested double-blind review, with a notable interest from researchers in India, Africa and the Middle East. Eggleton adds that IOP Publishing will continue to offer double blind on these journals and is also considering rolling it out to other titles.

    Another change in 2017 was the launch of a new section on the IOP website called Publishing Support that features step-by-step guides, videos and frequently asked questions. “More than 15,000 visitors are using this area of the website every month,” says Eggleton. “It shows how many questions researchers have about publishing.” Eggleton and colleagues are now hoping to develop additional functionality on the site in 2018, including a tool to help researchers track their article through the review process.

    Focus on recognition

    Eggleton and her colleagues are also keen to ensure that reviewers are recognized for the vital role they play in scholarly publishing. Last year, for example, the first IOP Publishing Reviewer Awards were announced. They seek to celebrate the contributions of the very best reviewers across the previous year, as demonstrated by the quality, quantity and timeliness of their reports.
    As part of this programme, the top 5% of reviewers for each journal will receive an Outstanding Reviewer certificate, with a web badge for them to use on their institutional profile. The list of winners will also be published on each journal’s webpages.

    On the same theme, a new partnership with Publons, a reviewer recognition service that integrates with the ScholarOne submission system, enables reviewers to track, verify and showcase their peer-review work. “Reviewers for participating journals have the option to add a verified record of each review to their Publons profile, even if the manuscript is never published,” explains Eggleton. “By default, only the name of the journal and the year of the review are displayed on Publons to protect the anonymity of the reviewer.”

    Eggleton adds that IOP Publishing wants to hear from authors about their experiences going through the peer-review process so that it can improve its services.

  8. New interdisciplinary open-access journal launched

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    Access all areas Journal of Physics Communications will offer researchers an accelerated and innovative way to publish their results.

    A new multidisciplinary open-access journal that offers researchers an accelerated and innovative way to publish their work has been launched by IOP Publishing. Known as the Journal of Physics Communications, it welcomes the submission of papers from all areas of research relating to physics. It has a particular interest in interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary studies that may not fit the narrower scope of traditional journals, and all authors will benefit from a fast, inclusive and transparent peer-review process.

    Journal of Physics Communications will be guided by a seven-strong senior editorial panel, which will work closely with the in-house editorial team to ensure that the journal meets its aim of high-quality peer review, rapid publication and inclusive coverage of all physics research. The editorial panel will provide final arbitration for scientific disputes and advice on emerging subjects.

    “We are excited about the launch of this important addition to our programme, which is an innovative option for existing and new authors, and the first fully open-access journal in the prestigious Journal of Physics series,” says Daniel Keirs, associate director, journals, at IOP Publishing. “With Journal of Physics Communications, we aspire to help scientists communicate new results as widely and openly as possible, and over the coming years we look forward to serving authors from across the full spectrum of research.”

    As an open-access title, Journal of Physics Communications will be permanently free to read for anyone, with the first articles having already been published. The article publication charge (APC) will be £1000, $1495 or €1200, which in some cases will be discounted to help authors from less developed countries. The APC will also be waived for the first 150 articles accepted for publication in the journal.