“We Are the People We Are Waiting For”: Reflections on OpenCon 2018

Jacqueline Phillips and other attendees at OpenCon. Photograph courtesy of Erin McKiernan.

OpenCon is a unique conference that brings together leading early career academic professionals and students from across the world to catalyze action toward a more open system of research and education. This year, Temple University Libraries was proud to sponsor Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Department of Kinesiology (College of Public Health) Jacqueline Phillips to attend OpenCon. The following is a guest post from Dr. Phillips about her experience.

This past weekend I participated in the 2018 OpenCon conference. Since this was my first OpenCon conference I wasn’t very sure of what to expect, but knew it was a gathering of early career professionals with a passion for open access (OA), so I was eager to take part. As a newcomer to the OA world this was my first exposure to an open community beyond my university. Overall, I was completely blown away by the programming and the passion of everyone there to collaborate and better their communities.

Open scholarly work was a new topic I was introduced to at this conference. Although I’ve known about open access journals and the concept of open data, I learned about other ways to make your work open such as posting preprints. Preprints are drafts of manuscripts that are posted online prior to being peer reviewed and formally published. Since a paper can sit in a purgatory-like state for a lengthy amount of time during the standard journal submission process, “pre-printing” enables the author(s) to share their work right away with those in their field. Readers can leave comments or questions, and the paper can be updated with revisions or with a final manuscript after it’s been published. By getting a DOI for a preprint, someone’s work is protected, and others are able to cite the paper. This format enables an early conversation to occur while also helping to connect individuals and advance their work.

As an instructor, my ears always perked up when the topic of open education resources (OER) arose. Strategies on finding already made resources were discussed along with troubleshooting areas of creating resources, like finding or making images (an issue commonly faced in the sciences). Some of the most useful bits of information that I’ll be taking home in this area came through networking and talking to others who have been through this process and were able to provide me with practical tips and wonderful sources. Beyond the making of or incorporation of OER, the discussion that most resonated with me in this area was the importance of student advocacy on campus for OER. A few students were in attendance at OpenCon who spoke about the clubs they were a part of whose mission it is to educate other students about what OER are and how they are impactful. Beyond educating their fellow peers on the subject, they also push for their administration to recognize the importance of the incorporation of OER on campus. This is the type of movement that can help to incentivize faculty to incorporate open materials into their classes, and encourage administration to change the metrics of success that faculty are graded upon for merit or promotion. Student advocacy was a different approach to fostering a cultural change on a campus that seemed to be very successful within these communities.

One particular aspect of the conference I was impressed by was the diversity. Not only the diversity of the attendees, but also presenters and organizers. By having people of different backgrounds and perspectives from around the world involved with all aspects of this event, it contributed to the depth and range of discussions that were held. A topic was presented about how sometimes our mainstream movement to advance OA can inadvertently perpetuate the marginalization of communities this movement aims to help. A lack of diversity at events such as this would only reinforce this oppression; however, I feel the organizers were sensitive to this concept and handled the conference in a way that will help to break down some of these barriers. There was even transparency about the demographics of the conference. The organizers informed us all about the numbers and breakdown of gender, ethnicity, profession etc. of everyone at and involved with the conference. This holds the conference to a higher standard and only helps to make the event even more productive. I hope that we’ll see other conferences begin to incorporate this presentation of the statistics into their events to show commitment to diversity and equity.

The last day of the conference featured a do-a-thon (similar to the concept of a hackathon) where attendees worked in groups to create solutions to particular issues that were brought to the table. All of our work and action plans are available online to the public so that anyone can help and contribute. Overall, I felt very productive at OpenCon. I learned how to use design thinking to solve issues, walked away with actionable items to promote the incorporation of OER, and most importantly, I made connections and became a member of a community that is inspired to collaborate to progress this movement. The conference was closed by Nicole Allen, from SPARC, who left us with the quote: “We are the people we are waiting for.” This perfectly sums of the message I hope to spread to others. We have the ability to break down barriers in education, and now after having attended OpenCon I feel I have more tools to help not only myself, but others accomplish this.

A Brief Introduction to Open Access Journal Publishers

“Types of OA Publishers” by Annie Johnson is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

This week is Open Access Week, a yearly international celebration that aims to increase awareness about open access (scholarship that is free to read and reuse). Most academic work is locked up behind a paywall, available only to those who are affiliated with a college or university. One way researchers can make their work more widely available to readers is by publishing in an open access journal.

Some of the largest publishers of open access journals are actually commercial publishers you’ve probably heard of, like Elsevier and Springer Nature. SAGE, De Gruyter, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley also publish open access journals.

Nonetheless, there are a growing number of exclusively open access journal publishers whose names may be less familiar to researchers. Here’s a brief run down of some of the major open access publishers you might encounter:

Exclusively Open Access Non-Profit Publishers

eLife
eLife is a non-profit OA publisher/journal that was founded by Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society and the Wellcome Trust is 2011. They publish scholarship in the life and biomedical sciences. Some articles published in eLife include ancillary materials, such as the decision letter from the editorial team with suggestions for improvement, as well as the authors’ response to that letter. Peer reviewers may also choose to reveal their identities to authors. In addition to traditional journal content eLife runs a magazine which includes editorials, interviews, and podcasts. eLife is one of the most prominent publishers to criticize the journal impact factor. As a result, they do not report on or promote this metric.

PLOS
Founded in 2001, PLOS (Public Library of Science) is a non-profit publisher that publishes seven journals. Its flagship journal, PLOS ONE is known as a “mega journal” because of the large number of articles it publishes (22,054 papers in 2016 alone). In 2014 PLOS implemented a new data policy, in which they require that all researchers make the data underlying their work fully available.

Exclusively Open Access Commercial Publishers

BioMed Central
Based in the United Kingdom, BioMed Central (BMC) was founded in 1999 and publishes over 300 journals. It is now owned by Springer Nature. Temple University Libraries is an institutional member of BMC, and automatically covers 50% of the total APC for all Temple researchers who submit.

F1000 Research
F1000 Research is a scholarly publication platform that was founded in 2000. It is known for its use of open peer review. F1000 Research publishes posters and slides in addition to scholarly articles.

Frontiers
Frontiers Media was founded in 2007 and is based in Switzerland. It currently publishes sixty-three open access journals in a range of disciplines.

Hindawi
Hindawi is an open access publisher based in London. It was founded in 1997, although it did not become an exclusive open access publisher until the 2000s. Hindawi currently publishes over 400 journals.

MDPI
Founded in 1996, the publisher MDPI (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute) is based in Switzerland and publishes 203 open access journals, mostly in the sciences.

PeerJ
Launched in 2013, PeerJ is a publisher of two journals: PeerJ (which focuses on the biological, medical and environmental sciences) and PeerJ Computer Science. They also have a repository for preprints, called PeerJ Preprints. In the beginning, PeerJ relied on a membership model to make money, in which authors would pay one fee and they could publish for free in PeerJ for the rest of their careers. They have recently changed their model so that authors can pay an article processing charge (APC) instead of purchasing a lifetime membership.

One last note: all the publishers profiled here are members of the Committee on Publication Ethics, and their journals can be found in the Directory of Open Access Journals.

2018-2019 Open Access Publishing Fund

We are excited to announce that the Libraries will continue our Open Access Publishing Fund in 2018-2019. The fund is open to all current Temple faculty members. Current postdoctoral fellows, residents, and graduate students may also apply, as long as there is at least one faculty member listed as a co-author on the article.

Authors with a journal article that has been accepted or is under consideration by an open access publisher are encouraged to apply. Authors simply fill out a brief application with their information, a copy of the article, and a copy of the journal acceptance letter (if available). Funds will be available on a first come, first served basis. The Libraries will aim to make a final decision regarding the application within two weeks’ time. If the request is approved, Libraries will transfer funds to authors’ research fund or departmental account. The Libraries cannot reimburse authors or pay publishers directly.

Applicant Eligibility

  • Applicants must be a current Temple University faculty member OR a current postdoctoral fellow/resident/graduate student with a faculty member listed as a co-author.
  • Applicants with external grant funding that could cover, either in whole or in part, the cost of any publication and processing fees are ineligible.
  • Applicants must agree to deposit a copy of their publication in our Digital Library, or any future library repository.

Publication Eligibility

  • The publication must take the form of a peer-reviewed journal article.
  • Many subscription journals now offer an open access option in which authors can chose to pay a fee to make their article open access. These publications are sometimes called “hybrid” open access journals. Articles in “hybrid” journals are not supported.
  • The journal must be listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). The DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.
  • The publisher must be a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA), or clearly follow the membership criteria of the organization.
  • Because the Libraries already cover 50% of the APC for BioMed Central journals, these journals are not eligible.

Additional Limitations

  • Each applicant may request up to $1,500 total per fiscal year. This amount may be split across multiple applications so long as funds are available.
  • For articles with multiple Temple authors, the per article payment is capped at $3,000.
  • Funding will cover publication and processing fees only. Funds may not be used for reprints, color illustration fees, non-open access page charges, permissions fees, web hosting for self-archiving, or other expenses not directly related to open access fees.
  • For applicants who have not yet submitted for publication, requests will be conditionally approved awaiting official acceptance by the publisher. All conditional approvals will expire six months after notification. Applicants must provide a copy of the acceptance letter before the invoice is processed.
  • Fees are pro-rated for multi-authored articles. Co-authors from outside of Temple are not supported. If an article includes non-Temple authors, the APC will be divided equally among all authors and then the Temple authors’ portion will be funded. For example, if the APC is $2000, and there are four authors, two of whom are from Temple, the authors can apply for $1000 from the fund ($500 each).

Attribution Requirement

  • Authors who receive support must include the following statement in their acknowledgements: Publication of this article was funded in part by the Temple University Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.

Download a copy of the application form here.

Questions? Contact Mary Rose Muccie (maryrose.muccie@temple.edu) or Annie Johnson (annie.johnson@temple.edu).

Note: The image above, “Open Access Publishing Fund,” is a derivative of “Open Access at CC” by Amy Collier for Creative Commons, and is used under CC BY 4.0. “Open Access Publishing Fund” is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by Annie Johnson.

2017-2018 Recipients of the OA Publishing Fund

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.

We are pleased to announce the 2017-2018 recipients of the Open Access Publishing Fund. Congrats to all!

Janelle Bailey and Doug Lombardi (College of Education). “Meeting students halfway: Increasing self-efficacy and promoting knowledge change in astronomy.”

Eunice Chen (College of Liberal Arts, Psychology). “To a future where everyone can walk a dog even if they don’t own one.”

Konstantinos Drosatos and Matthew Hoffman (Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Pharmacology). “Krϋppel-like factors: Crippling and un-crippling metabolic pathways.”

Andrew Gassman, Edwin Acevedo, Catherine Kilmartin, Suresh Keshavamurthy, and Richard Tyrell (Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Surgery). “Is non-invasive indocyanine-green angiography a useful adjunct for the debridement of infected sternal wounds?”

Thomas Olino (College of Liberal Arts, Psychology). “Is Parent-Child Disagreement on Child Anxiety Explained by Differences in Measurement Properties? An Examination of Measurement Invariance Across Informants and Time.”

Jinsook Roh (College of Public Health, Kinesiology). “The effects of selective muscle weakness on muscle coordination in the human arm.”

Won Suh, Weili Ma, Geun-woo Jin, Paul M. Gehret, and Neil C. Chada (College of Engineering, Bioengineering). “A Novel Cell Penetrating Peptide for the Differentiation of Human Neural Stem Cells.”

Xiaoxing Xi, M. Golalikhani, Q. Lei, R. U. Chandrasena, L. Kasaei, B. A. Davidson, and A. X. Gray (College of Science and Technology, Physics).  “Nature of the metal-insulator transition in few-unit-cell-thick LaNiO3 films.”

Faculty Support of Open Access: An Interview with David Sarwer

No matter what discipline you are in, it is hard to ignore the major shift from traditional journal publishing to open access publishing. In honor of Open Access Week 2017, we are celebrating faculty at Temple University who support open scholarship in a variety of ways.

One of these faculty members is David Sarwer, the Associate Dean for Research, and Director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at the College of Public Health. Sarwer is also the Editor-in-Chief of an open access journal, Obesity Science & Practice. He sat down with Biomedical & Research Services Librarian (Ginsburg Health Sciences Library) Stephanie Roth to discuss his experiences as the editor of a new open access journal.

Please tell us more about Obesity Science & Practice. How did you become involved as the Editor-in-Chief?

Obesity Science & Practice is a Wiley journal. They publish four other journals in the area of obesity and were quick to recognize that there was an increasing number of high quality papers not making the cut in those journals. When they approached me about serving as the inaugural Editor-in-Chief, I was still skeptical about publishing in open access journals. The more the Wiley team taught me about their approach, I came to believe that open access publishing was likely to play a significant role in the future of academic publishing.

What gave you confidence to believe in open access?

The early success of the journal has given all of us a great deal of confidence. We have quickly moved to publishing four issues a year. We now receive a steady stream of articles that are either direct submissions to the journal or are referred to us by other Wiley obesity journals. Many of the papers published in the journal have come from internationally recognized authorities in the field of obesity. All of these developments give me a great deal of confidence about the future of the journal and open access publishing more generally.

When you first heard about open access publishing what were your immediate thoughts?

Like everyone else, I was familiar with the old school publishing model. So, I was hesitant and skeptical. The Wiley team did a great job to make me comfortable that open access represented the path to the future.

Did you ever publish to an open access journal prior to becoming the editor of one?

No, but I wouldn’t hesitate to publish in a high quality, reputable open access journal today.

Now as an editor, what are your thoughts about open access publishing?

I am very impressed with open access compared to traditional publishing and especially by our journal. The speed at which we are able to process papers and push them out to our readers is a great strength. We have published a number of high quality, impactful papers in the field. Several of them have received mass media coverage as well, which is an important, yet often overlooked aspect of academic productivity.

What has been your experience with OA journals vs. traditional publishing?

I haven’t noticed much of a difference. Many non open access journals are now putting their papers online. That shows the potential growth and acceptability of open access in the future.

What has contributed to more authors embracing your journal?

It has helped that Wiley is well recognized for their journals. That has helped to increase our journal’s credibility. Wiley has also done a good job identifying high quality submissions that were rejected from one of their four other major obesity journals. When a paper is referred to us from one of those journals, we often use the previous reviews to inform the editorial process and decision making. This has allowed us to move papers through the review process quickly.

What are your future plans for the journal?

I would like to stay on our current path of success. We recently moved to publishing four issues a year and continue to receive a steady stream of papers. I would like to see the first impact factor be appropriately robust and to have it grow over time.

Do you provide tools for graduate students or residents to publish in your journal?

At the journal level, we aren’t doing anything specific for graduate students. We do receive a fair amount of submissions from those who may be working on their first papers and launching their own independent careers and that is also encouraging.

What tips would you give to researchers looking to publish in an OA journal?

I would like to encourage them to make sure they don’t discount them. Be thoughtful. Make sure the journal is a legitimate outlet, and not one associated with predatory publishing. Researchers should see open access as an important and central part of academic publishing in the future.

2017-2018 Open Access Publishing Fund

“Open” by Russell Davies is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

We are excited to announce that the Libraries will continue our Open Access Publishing Fund for 2017-2018. The fund is open to all current Temple faculty members. Current postdoctoral fellows and graduate students may also apply, as long as there is at least one faculty member listed as a co-author on the article.

The Libraries’ goal in starting an Open Access Publishing Fund is to promote new forms of scholarly communication. There are a rising number of high-quality open access publishers (see publication eligibility below for more information) whose business model depends on the fees they collect from authors (often referred to as article processing charges, or APCs). Authors are increasingly interested in making their work available open access, as it helps them reach new and wider audiences. However, the costs involved can be a deterrent. We hope this Fund will help remove this financial barrier, encouraging authors to experiment with new and innovative publishing models. Over fifty universities across the country currently maintain some kind of Open Access Publishing Fund.

Authors with a journal article that has been accepted or is under consideration by an open access publisher are encouraged to apply. Authors simply fill out a brief application with their information, a copy of the article, and a copy of the journal acceptance letter (if available). Funds will be available on a first come, first served basis. The Libraries will aim to make a final decision regarding the application within two weeks’ time. If the request is approved, Libraries will transfer funds to authors’ research fund or departmental account. The Libraries cannot reimburse authors or pay publishers directly.

Applicant Eligibility

  • Applicants must be a current Temple University faculty member OR a current postdoctoral fellow/graduate student with a faculty member listed as a co-author.
  • Applicants with external grant funding that could cover, either in whole or in part, the cost of any publication and processing fees are ineligible.
  • Applicants must agree to deposit a copy of their publication in our Digital Library.

Publication Eligibility

  • The publication must take the form of a peer-reviewed journal article.
  • Publications in “hybrid” open access journals will not be supported.
  • The journal must be listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
  • The publisher must be a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA), or clearly follow the membership criteria of the organization.
  • Because the Libraries already cover 50% of the APC for BioMed Central journals, these journals are not eligible.

Additional Limitations

  • Each applicant may request up to $1,500 total per fiscal year. This amount may be split across multiple applications so long as funds are available.
  • For articles with multiple Temple authors, the per article payment is capped at $3,000.
  • Funding will cover publication and processing fees only. Funds may not be used for reprints, color illustration fees, non-open access page charges, permissions fees, web hosting for self-archiving, or other expenses not directly related to open access fees.
  • For applicants who have not yet submitted for publication, requests will be conditionally approved awaiting official acceptance by the publisher. All conditional approvals will expire six months after notification. Applicants must provide a copy of the acceptance letter before the invoice is processed.
  • Fees are pro-rated for multi-authored articles. Co-authors from outside of Temple are not supported. If an article includes non-Temple authors, the APC will be divided equally among all authors and then the Temple authors’ portion will be funded. For example, if the APC is $2000, and there are four authors, two of whom are from Temple, the authors can apply for $1000 from the fund ($500 each).

Attribution Requirement

  • Authors who receive support must include the following statement in their acknowledgements: Publication of this article was funded in part by the Temple University Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.

Download a copy of the application form here.

Questions? Contact Mary Rose Muccie (maryrose.muccie@temple.edu) or Annie Johnson (annie.johnson@temple.edu).

Your Preprint Questions, Answered

“Early bird” by Katy Warner is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Last year, we noted that preprints were “having a moment.” Since that time, a number of new discipline-specific preprint servers have launched (PsyArXiv, LawArXiv, and engrXiv), and more are on the way (Chemrxiv, PaleorXiv, and SportRxiv, to name a few). In addition, funding organizations, such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, have begun to provide financial support for preprint servers. Still doubt the rising popularity of preprints? There’s even a new app for rating preprints in the life sciences called Papr, which calls itself “Tinder for preprints.”

Are you thinking of posting a preprint? Here are some things you might be wondering about:

What exactly is a preprint?

A preprint is usually defined as a piece of scholarship that has not been peer reviewed or formally published. Many preprints do go on to be published in academic journals. One 2013 study, for example, found that 64% of the work that is posted in arXiv has been published in academic journals. However, there is also small group of scholars who have begun posting what they call “final version preprints.”

Why should I post a preprint of my work?

Posting a preprint allows you to get your research out into the world quickly and easily. That’s good for the advancement of knowledge, but it’s also good because it enables you to position yourself as the originator of a certain claim or technique, even before your article is formally published. Posting a preprint is also a great way to get feedback on your work from others, and make your scholarship even better.

Can I still submit my manuscript to a journal if I previously posted it on a preprint server?

In most cases, yes. A growing number of journals welcome manuscript submissions that first appeared as preprints. BioRxiv, for example, has a manuscript transfer process which makes it easy for researchers to submit their preprint to over 120 scholarly journals. That having been said, there are still a few journals that consider the posting of preprints to be “prior publication.” Make sure to read the policies of the journal you are interested in submitting to. Wikipedia also has a list preprint policies by journal.

How will people find my preprint?

Many preprint servers assign DOIs (digital object identifiers) to preprints, which make them easier to discover (although the popular arXiv does not). In addition, a number of preprint servers are indexed by Google Scholar. Nevertheless, if you want people to read your preprint, you should be prepared to do your own promotion. Use social media to draw attention to your work.

How should I license my preprint?

As the author, you automatically own the copyright to your work. However, adding a Creative Commons (CC) license tells people how your preprint can be reused. Some preprint servers require a CC license for any work that is posted. Others, such as SSRN or Humanities Commons CORE, do not. We recommend adding a CC license to all preprints you post.

Can I cite a preprint?

Yes. If you have evaluated a preprint and find it to useful to your research, definitely go ahead and cite it. Just make sure to note in your citation that it is a preprint. Also make sure you are citing the version that you actually used. One caveat: there are a few journals that do not allow researchers to cite preprints, although this policy seems to be changing. If you are unsure, ask your editor. Writing a grant application? The NIH recently announced that investigators are free to cite their own preprints in research proposals or projects reports.

Have another question about preprints that we didn’t answer? Let us know in the comments.

2016-2017 Recipients of the OA Publishing Fund

“Open” by Auntie P is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

In the fall of 2016 the Libraries launched a pilot Open Access Publishing Fund to support faculty and graduate students who want to publish their research in an open access journal but do not have the money to do so. We have profiled a few of our recipients in past posts on this blog. We are pleased to announce the complete list of 2016-2017 recipients. Congrats to all!

College of Liberal Arts

Eunice Chen, Lauren Alloy, Susan Murray, Jared O’Garro-Moore, Angelina Yiu, and Kalina Eneva, Psychology

Kevin A. Henry and Allison L. Swiecki-Sikora, Geography and Urban Studies

Joshua Klugman, Sociology/Psychology

College of Education

Doug Lombardi and Janelle Bailey

College of Science and Technology

Xiaoxing Xi, Narendra Acharya, Matthaeus Wolak, Teng Tan, and Namhoon Lee, Physics

Xiaoxing Xi, Teng Tan, and Matthaeus Wolak, Physics

College of Engineering

Fei Ren and Bosen Quan

Shenqiang Ren, Beibei Xu, Himanshu Chakraborty, Vivek K. Yadav, Zhuolei Zhang, and Michael L. Klein (Physics)

School of Medicine

Andrew Gassman and Judy Pan

Andrew Gassman and Richard Tyrell

Jian Huang, Chao Wu, and Hong Wang

Parth Rali

He Wang, Baidarbhi Chakraborty, Linda Mamone, Shiguang Lui, and Nirag C. Jhala

School of Dentistry

Vinodh Bhoopathi and Ting Dai

More News from the OA Publishing Fund

Joshua Klugman, Associate Professor of Psychology and Sociology, is one of the latest recipients of the Libraries’ pilot Open Access Publishing Fund, which provides financial support to Temple faculty who publish their research in open access journals. Klugman’s article, “Essential or Expendable Supports? Assessing the Relationship between School Climate and Student Outcomes” was just published by the open access journal Sociological Science. Sociological Science was launched in 2014 by sociologists from Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and other leading universities. The journal aims to get cutting-edge sociological research out in the world as quickly as possible.

Klugman’s article contradicts the findings of the influential book, Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago (2010), which argues that school climate has a significant impact on students’ academic outcomes. Klugman finds that a better school climate does not make much of a difference when it comes to outcomes like test scores and graduation rates. He concludes, however, that it could be that school climate matters, but that it is just very difficult to measure. As a result, Klugman suggests that schools might think twice before spending significant time and resources on climate surveys.

We asked Professor Klugman why he was interested in making his work openly available. He told us: “My article has important things to say to school administrators and policymakers (namely, they should not waste their time and money on school climate surveys). Sociological Science is a reputable journal, run by top sociologists, and the fact it is open access means these decision-makers can access my article and come to their own conclusions.”

To learn more about Professor Klugman’s research, read his recent interview with Temple’s College of Liberal Arts. To learn more about the Libraries’ OA Publishing Fund, click here.

First Recipients of Pilot OA Publishing Fund Chosen

mgb2

The Libraries support Open Access publishing in a number of different ways. Recently, we launched a pilot Open Access Publishing Fund, which provides money to help Temple researchers cover the costs associated with publishing in an Open Access journal. We are happy to announce that our first recipients of the fund come from Laura H. Carnell Professor of Physics Xiaoxing Xi’s research group. You can read their article, “MgB2 ultrathin films fabricated by hybrid physical chemical vapor deposition and ion milling,” published in the most recent issue of APL Materials, here.

The paper’s lead author, Narendra Acharya, took the time to tell us a little bit about the group’s work: “Magnesium diboride (MgB2) is a superconducting material that allows electricity to be passed through it without any loss unlike in normal wires we use in households. Due to the unique property of this material, it can be used in various sensitive electronic devices. Our particular goal was to grow and fabricate a very thin MgB2 film. This thin film is then used to make hot electron bolometers and superconducting nanowires. Hot electron bolometers are used in astronomy to detect invisible radiation called THz frequency (this frequency is similar to a radio signal but more difficult to detect) coming out of our galaxy or interstellar bodies. By detecting these THz frequencies scientists can get information about any elements or molecules such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, or water present in any planets or solar system in our galaxy or beyond. If present, these elements may signify the possibility of life. Since THz frequency is emitted by many materials, these devices can also be used to detect various materials in a security check system. Similarly, superconducting nanowires can be used to speed up satellite communication. In our paper we present the growth and preparation of ultrathin MgB2 film for use in such devices. At Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, scientists have already demonstrated an improved performance of these devices by using our films.”

The authors told us that they wanted to submit their work to APL Materials because it is a highly regarded new journal in the field. In addition, they liked the idea of making their research freely available to people across the globe, especially because MgB2 ultrathin films have many potential uses.

Congratulations to all the authors on this innovative research! Be sure to check back with our blog in the future to learn about other recipients of the fund.