Standardization News

ASTM Technical Journals

Cicely Enright

Peer-Reviewed Papers Assist Researchers and Readers

Whether a paper addresses epoxy resin or self-consolidating concrete, unsaturated soils or ballistics, it can find an outlet in one of ASTM International's four technical journals; the journals detail original research and work in testing and evaluation, materials performance, and geotechnical and civil engineering.

The ASTM journals range from the well-established Journal of Testing and Evaluation and Geotechnical Testing Journal to the newer Advances in Civil Engineering Materials and Materials Performance and Characterization. The Journal of Testing and Evaluation began publishing in 1973 and Geotechnical Testing Journal first circulated in 1978, both Advances in Civil Engineering Materials and Materials Performance and Characterization debuted in 2012.

"One of the things that makes ASTM journals unique and tremendously valuable is the fact that there is a very real synergy between the journals, which define the state-of-the-art, and the ASTM testing standards, which define the state-of-practice," says William J. Likos, Ph.D., associate professor of geological engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who also works on ASTM Committee D18 on Soil and Rock, and serves as co-editor for the Geotechnical Testing Journal.

The journals contain peer-reviewed technical papers, appear in scientific journal indexes and, as indicated by increases in frequency and number, provide a useful resource for both authors and readers.

It Starts with Peer Review

Peer review sets ASTM International technical journals apart from many other publications and editorial processes; their editors agree that it is essential to paper quality and critical to the process.

"Peer-reviewed journal articles are considered the principal forum for disseminating new fundamental knowledge in science and engineering," says Richard W. Neu, Ph.D., co-editor of Materials Performance and Characterization and professor of mechanical engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, who is a member at large on the executive subcommittee of Committee E08 on Fatigue and Fracture.

"As a user of papers, I pay little attention to papers in journals that aren't peer reviewed," says Leslie Struble, Ph.D., editor in chief of Advances in Civil Engineering Materials, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a long-time member of ASTM Committees C01 on Cement and C09 on Concrete and Concrete Aggregates. "I want peer review as a reader of papers, a writer of papers and an editor of papers."

For the ASTM journals, peer review occurs in a single blind process, one in which the author does not know who reviews the paper. Each paper has at least two reviews, and sometimes three, as well as reviews by journal editors and the technical editor. The process culls suitable from unsuitable papers, and it assists authors in improving articles both technically and editorially.

Indexes Help in Locating Papers

Listings in such services as the Science Citation Index (for Journal of Testing and Evaluation and Geotechnical Testing Journal), COMPENDEX, SCOPUS, Chemical Abstracts and more provide an added bonus both for authors and readers. The indexes afford certain advantages: listings help readers and other researchers find papers on specific topics of interest, help potential authors locate information related to work they have done or may consider doing and aid researchers, administrators, faculty and students.

It typically takes more than a Google search, according to Struble, to find scholarly information. And the libraries and library consortia worldwide that subscribe to indexes and to ASTM International's Standards and Engineering Digital Library assist in locating ASTM technical papers on a wide variety of technical subjects. Materials Performance and Characterization and Advances in Civil Engineering Materials, new to the field, are being picked up by indexers as well.

Journal Editors and Editorial Boards

Once a paper has been submitted for publication, the editorial process starts with the journal editors, a group with experience and knowledge in technical areas and in related ASTM standards development committees.

The technical editors have built global editorial boards that in turn tap into a global network of reviewers. The editorial board members assign manuscript submissions for review; these individuals hold positions in academia, government laboratories and industry around the world.

The editorial board of the Journal of Testing and Evaluation includes more than 50 members; Geotechnical Testing Journal has close to 40; Materials Performance and Characterization has 30, and Advances in Civil Engineering Materials, 18.

"We look to the leaders in their field," says Neu. "We seek editorial board members who are well versed in their field and are active in publishing papers and can readily target relevant reviewers to ensure the articles that we publish are relevant and clear to the readers."

ASTM editorial board members ensure technical and editorial quality; they also help promote the journal and solicit papers. "Also, editorial board members generally know individuals within their respective disciplines who are willing and well-qualified to provide in-depth reviews of submitted papers. That's a real plus," says M.R. Mitchell, Ph.D., president of Mechanics and Materials Consulting, Flagstaff, Ariz., and a veteran ASTM International member, who is editor in chief of the Journal of Testing and Evaluation.

"I believe we represent the research and scientific communities worldwide and have an international group who know and understand the nature and tone of the research and engineering occurring in their countries," Mitchell adds.

Paper Submission and First Look

Prospective and returning authors can find manuscript submission and assistance for all ASTM International journals online. The main page gives an overview of each journal and includes links for each.

An "Online Paper Submittal" link for each journal takes authors to the paper submission site, which uses ScholarOne, an online peer review system, and author instructions, a copyright agreement and user tutorials as well as a sample manuscript and an ASTM paper style manual.

Guides and tutorials for authors, administrators, editors and reviewers can also be found at the online training link along with frequently asked questions and a place to submit questions.

Another link, "First Look Papers," gives readers and researchers early access to peer reviewed and accepted articles before they are published. The abstracts can be viewed and the papers purchased in this section. Once an article has been published in an issue, the first look version is removed and the paper appears in the journal issue.

New Papers and Journal Archives

Interested users and authors can keep up with all new papers for the journals through subscribing to an RSS feed or Tracker email alerts. The RSS feed (an internet bookmark) includes a list of the newest paper titles and their posting dates. The journals paper Tracker, which can be customized for one or more journals, will result in a free monthly emailed list of newly published papers.

In addition, journal issues are archived online at the journal's "Issues" link, and archives of past journals are also available, including Cement, Concrete and Aggregates, Journal of ASTM International, Journal of Composites Technology and Research, and Journal of Forensic Sciences.

To learn more, check the journals out online, or contact Kathy Dernoga, ASTM managing editor, books and journals (phone: 610-832-9617).

The ASTM International Journals: An Overview

A check of recent Journal of Testing and Evaluation contents reveals articles on asphalt performance, airfield pavements and batch inspection, among others. A multi-disciplinary forum for applied sciences and engineering, JOTE presents both field and laboratory testing details about the performance, characterization and evaluation of materials. "JOTE occupies an unusual niche in that it's testing and evaluation and analysis," says JOTE's editor in chief, M.R. Mitchell, Ph.D., president of Mechanics and Materials Consulting, Flagstaff, Ariz. That means that entire fatigue test data sets might appear, or financial statistics, which might not be printed in another outlet, as well as papers on structural or materials analysis; ballistics and fire arms; and hardness, impact and tensile testing, among others.

Advances in Civil Engineering Materials appears online in one continuous annual issue. A journal that covers material processing, structure, properties and performance, ACEM typically looks at concrete and asphalt, steel and wood, polymers and composites, and it owes part of its scope to a former ASTM publication. "There had been a journal, Cement and Concrete Aggregates, many years ago, and the standards community in cement and concrete was supportive of a new ASTM journal in this area; ACEM is a place to find research papers related to standards," says Leslie J. Struble, Ph.D., ACEM editor in chief and professor emeritus, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Ill. ACEM is a journal for research papers related to standards for properties and performance of civil engineering materials.

"Geotechnical Testing Journal is very much for both researchers and practitioners," says William J. Likos, Ph.D., associate professor of geological engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and GTJ co-editor. The journal is also intended to encourage participation in Committee D18 on Soil and Rock. Likos says, "Our goal is to publish papers that have direct relevance to ongoing soil and rock testing activities in our community." The journal helps keep professionals on top of new developments, and it serves as a forum for information exchange in emerging areas of geotechnical engineering, such as unsaturated soil mechanics and soil thermal behavior testing, in its papers. Reflecting the increased number of papers submitted is GTJ's publication of six issues per year now instead of four.

Materials Performance and Characterization has a scope of materials processing, structure, properties and performance in engineering systems. MPC papers address both theoretical and practical aspects of the processing, structure, properties and performance of materials for mechanical systems, transportation, aerospace, energy and medical devices. "With the ties to ASTM International, I see MPC as a leading forum to discuss new ideas that eventually will lead to standardization that supports industry," says Richard W. Neu, Ph.D., MPC co-editor, and professor of mechanical engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology. This year, MPC features special issues on thermal process modeling, simulation and optimization; high temperature fatigue; fracture toughness; and advances in fatigue and fracture mechanics.

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