Health Physics Journal/ORS News

Editor's Pick

What I'm Thankful For

Brant A. Ulsh, CHP, PhD, Health Physics Editor in Chief

The November issue of Health Physics celebrates contributions of our female colleagues to the field of radiation protection. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the many wonderful ladies who have enriched my career in health physics through their friendship, professional accomplishments, and inspiring examples. I am especially grateful to be a member of a professional society where women ably serve at every level of leadership.

On a personal note, I would be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to recognize and thank my colleagues Deanna Baker, Linnea Wahl, and Stella Bebos for the long hours they put in to make this journal happen every month. I owe a special note of thanks to Nicole Martinez, the guest editor for this issue, and it is especially gratifying to see so many students and young health physicists contributing their work to make this issue truly special. This month, I want to encourage you to read not one particular article, but rather the entire issue, and join the editorial staff of Health Physics in celebrating the fine work of the ladies in our field!


Upon Further Review …

Brant A. Ulsh, CHP, PhD, Health Physics Editor in Chief

We need you! Every article submitted to Health Physics is reviewed by two volunteers—colleagues in the field who have basic competence in the research area and who can review draft papers to make sure they are clear, concise, and free from obvious errors before they become permanent as published articles. Peer review provides a vital check against inadvertent errors and fraud, and it is one of the foundations of modern scientific practice. It is also becoming increasingly difficult to find scientists who can and will perform this critical service. It is not uncommon for our associate editors to have to invite six, eight, or more reviewers before we get two to agree. This inevitably slows down the peer-review process at a time when authors place a high priority on getting their results published quickly. To help overcome this challenge, Health Physics is making some changes to our peer-review process. We currently use a single-blind system, where the authors do not know the identity of the reviewers. We are moving to a double-blind system, where the reviewers now will not know the identity of the authors either. This will allow us to request that authors suggest qualified peers who could serve as reviewers of their papers while minimizing conflict-of-interest concerns. We hope this will help us quickly identify peer reviewers, but we know we need to do more.

That's where you come in—yes, you! We, of course, welcome top experts in particular areas, but that isn't required to be a competent reviewer. You are members of the intended audience, and if something doesn't make sense to you, there is a good chance authors haven't effectively communicated their results and need your valuable feedback. If you have a bachelor's degree in health physics or a related discipline, you are qualified to serve as a peer reviewer. If you are a graduate student or postdoc, you are qualified. If you have certified health physicist (CHP) or NRRPT credentials, you are qualified. If you have practiced in the field of radiation protection for several years, you are qualified!

While peer review is largely a professional volunteer activity, we are also offering a couple of incentives to encourage you (yes you!) to serve as a peer reviewer. Many tenure review boards and hiring managers look for evidence of professional service as hiring and promotion criteria. Serving as a peer reviewer is a great way to demonstrate your volunteer contributions to the radiation protection field, and we make it easy. Our publisher, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, has an agreement with Publons to track your peer-review and editing activity. This is a free service for Health Physics peer reviewers and associate editors. Just sign up for an account at (which takes about five minutes) and check the box we provide when reporting the results of your peer reviews. Our editorial office sends a notice of your activity to Publons, and it is added to your profile. Publons lets you download a report of your activity ready for you to insert into your CV, job application, or tenure application.

But wait—there's more! Did you know that CHPs can claim continuing-education credits for serving as peer reviewers? We are working with the American Academy of Health Physics to increase the number of credits a CHP can claim from the current limit of 2 per year. In an era when reduced travel budgets make attendance at HPS meetings difficult for some CHPs, serving as a peer reviewer is a great way to get a few credits toward your recertification, all while keeping up on the latest developments in your area of interest and becoming a better writer in the process.

If serving as a peer reviewer sounds like something you would be interested in, please send me an email listing the technical areas you are comfortable reviewing. We will add you to our peer reviewer database and send a few manuscripts your way.