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Ken Kingery
IU Office of University Communications

Rick Van Kooten
Chair, IU Department of Physics

Last modified: Monday, April 28, 2008

Six IU physicists among country's best 'referees'

April 28, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Department of Physics at Indiana University Bloomington was honored by receiving awards for six of its faculty members -- a number outmatched by only five universities in the country.

The American Physical Society (APS) recently released the inaugural list of its "Outstanding Referees Program" which, "recognizes scientists who have been exceptionally helpful in assessing manuscripts for publication in the APS journals." The program will annually recognize around 130 outstanding referees. This year, APS made up for lost time by recognizing 534 of the society's 42,000 active referees. The basis for choosing the 534 honorees was the quality, number and timeliness of their reports.

APS logo

The American Physical Society recently recognized six IU Physicists as among the best peer reviewers in the world.

"Very few other institutes have as many recipients as IU," said Rick Van Kooten, professor and chair of the Department of Physics. "It is a fantastic indication of the stature, high quality and dedication of our faculty that they have gained the reputation that led to these awards."

Besides Van Kooten himself, the APS also recognized IU physicists Herbert Fertig, Don Lichtenberg, William Schaich, Brian Serot and James Swihart.

Members of the APS receive regular requests from the editors to review papers and articles submitted for publication. After careful reading and critiquing, the referee's comments are sent back to the editors and anonymously to the author. Referees are asked to judge whether the paper satisfies the criteria of validity, importance and interest, with the assessment of scientific soundness being particularly important.

Through a series of comments, suggestions, edits and further reviews, journal articles are improved and quality assured. No form of compensation is received for the effort, except the knowledge of a job well done. It is understood that the work is an essential service to the community and the health of the important process of anonymous peer review.

According to Fertig, detailed reviews are extremely important to sharpen fuzzy sections of a paper and to cull out what should be published in a paper and what should not. More than a few of his own papers have benefitted from excellent review, and he always tries to return the favor by providing reports useful to the authors, editors and ultimately the readers.

"It is very satisfying to discover that someone actually notices that there are people trying to do their best with such behind-the-scenes work," said Fertig. "I am very honored and pleased to have been recognized by the APS in this way, and I congratulate my fellow honorees here at IU and elsewhere for their good work, and the recognition it has brought."