Open publisher-invited reviews in Web of Science

Something to look out for in the academic science literature is the ability to read documents that are part of the peer review associated with a published article. These can include reviewer reports, author responses, and editor decision letters. Getting the full story around a paper of interest, from the author’s submission to the final published version, is really exciting. It can also be beneficial to any new researchers or new peer reviewers that would like to learn what to expect from the system.

The process is referred to as transparent peer review. It has been piloted at the American Chemical Society, and the Institute of Physics (IOP) recently implemented transparent peer review for all of it’s open access journals.

Here is an example of an IOP article that includes open peer review documentation. It can be hard to locate the documents on the website, but they are found by hovering over the Clarivate logo with all of the article metrics. It looks like this:

View Public Peer Reviews

Clativate has made it easy to identify articles that have peer review documents associated with them by adding “Open publisher-invited reviews” as a quick filter in their multidisciplinary Web of Science database. There may only be a small number of these papers in your search results, but this number will likely grow.

Here is what the option looks like after you run a search in Web of Science:

Open publisher-invited reviews quick filter in Web of Science

Let us know if you have any questions about this option, and if you find it useful!

Citation politics

We may want to believe that citation practices in STEM are unbiased, but the evidence out there says otherwise. It speaks to the politics and privilege that have pervaded peer review and the published literature.

Here is just a handful of recent examples:

What can we do?

There are a few things that we can do in our citation practices to make a difference. First, if we recognize that citations are power, then we can exercise that power in our own reference lists. When we write articles or otherwise disseminate our research outputs, we can choose to break away from citing the usual suspects and cite responsibly. One easy to remember rule of thumb is the Gray test. Our works pass the Gray test if they cite and discuss the scholarship of at least two women and two non-white people. We can also consider including citation diversity statements.

Second, we can be representative in the works that we recommend to others. For example, here is a Gender Balance Assessment Tool that is available to check that our reading lists are not mostly works written by male authors.

Third, when we find ourselves in a position to judge the work of others we can let go of our reliance on citation metrics. We can commit to evaluating works on their scientific merit and consider alternative metrics not based on citation counts.

Of course, we can also talk about citation politics with our colleagues. There is lots to think about and discuss!

Find more citation politics resources and readings, along with sources for alternative metrics on the Impact Measurements guide.

Teaching Climate Change: Prof. John Gyakum Discusses His New Course, ATOC 183

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Professor John Gyakum from the department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences about his new course “ATOC 183: Climate and Climate Change” being offered this winter. Full disclosure: I am the liaison librarian for his department and will be working with him to provide library support for the course.

Here is what he had to say.


Thanks so much Professor Gyakum for taking the time to share with our blog readers about your new course “Climate and Climate Change”. First off, tell us about the course.

Professor Gyakum:

As you probably know, I’ve been teaching Natural Disasters (ATOC/EPSC 185) with John Stix for 25 years. And the thing is climate change is a natural disaster and I’m really passionate about talking to students and working together to understand what we know about climate change and perhaps more importantly what we don’t know.


25 years, that’s a long time.

Professor Gyakum:

It is. I had no idea until John Stix mentioned it earlier this term, but yeah, it’s been that long.


What is your anticipated student demographic for this course?

Professor Gyakum:

You know, I have not looked in detail at the registration numbers. We have about 145 students. My expectation is that the demographics of our student population will be very similar to what we’ve been having in Natural Disasters. The levels will range probably from U0 to U3. And we’re expecting to have students from all faculties.


Are you expecting students to have a certain base level of knowledge when they’re starting this course or will it be for people new to this area of study?

Professor Gyakum:

There are no prerequisites whatsoever and I expect to be able to reach out to all students without any preparation for this course.


What led you to developing the course?

Professor Gyakum:

We’ve been incorporating climate change into the Natural Disasters course for the past 5-7 years. It only lasts for one week as a module. It’s an exciting field. Furthermore, I’m in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and it’s my view that we should be leaders in articulating the science [of climate change] to our students and doing so in an accessible way.


Was this [initiative] driven from your own experience in Natural Disasters or was it a combination of hearing about needs for a course like this from students in that class or from elsewhere?

Professor Gyakum:

A combination of my experience in Natural Disasters and also as Department Chair. I’m not Department Chair now, but I had been for about 16 years. And Chairs assign teaching. It was pretty clear to me that this was a gap in our departmental outreach that we needed to fill.


Absolutely. A lot of people report feelings of eco anxiety when faced with the immensity of the problem of climate change. How will your course help students deal with the kinds of feelings that this topic can generate?

Professor Gyakum:

Well, you know, we’ve touched on this a little bit in our [Natural Disasters] course. There’s no doubt about it that when we pose this question as a Slido [polling] question to the students, their reactions are predominantly pessimistic and lots of people are really quite depressed about this, with good reason. It’s very frustrating for students when they see that governments are not acting in a way that is responsible. What we tell them and what I’m going to be intending to articulate to our students is that there’s a lot of reason for optimism. Primarily because we, as individuals, can work towards a better future. In other words, we do not have to rely upon a government that may not be so proactive. We can do things for ourselves, that contribute to mitigating against climate change and taking actions.


Things like?

Professor Gyakum:

On a personal level, of course, your own habits, including transportation. Take the bus, take the metro, walk. It’s not always possible for people to do that but, at the same time, people can and should be acting responsibly. Diet has a role as well. Our choices of what we eat have an impact on the climate.


Definitely. How will your course fit in with existing courses? How will it complement things that are already being offered at McGill like “FSCI 198: Climate Crisis and Climate Actions,” offered through the Office of Science Education and “GEOG 514: Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation?”

Professor Gyakum:

First of all, I think our department should be playing a leadership role in this aspect. And I think the contributions that we’re going to be making with this climate course are, in fact, not duplicating what exists already but rather complementing. To do that, what I intend to do is focus on what we do know as scientists in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. In particular, I will be discussing extreme weather systems and we will be having guest speakers from various areas in the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences community to articulate this. Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas. And that’s not really looked upon very much in current climate change courses. One of the reasons is that water vapour has a tendency to disperse. You have a warm air mass, particularly in the summer. It goes away with a cold front and the water vapour lifetime is rather short. However, there’s been more recent evidence to suggest that extreme weather systems and even submarine volcanic eruptions can, in fact, inject a massive amount of water vapour into the stratosphere, where the lifetimes are much longer. Also, we’re going to be looking at some of the radiative aspects of clouds that have an impact on our climate. So there are some nuances here, very important subtleties that are critical to our understanding of the problem.


So would it be fair to say that this course will be taking more of a science bent than some of the other courses that might be more [policy-oriented]?

Professor Gyakum:

I mean the other courses certainly have science in them. What we’re doing here is to emphasize extreme weather systems not just simply as a symptom but rather as a really significant producer of sometimes cataclysmic feedbacks on the climate system.


I’m a fan of the Walrus Magazine and there was an article that came out in 2022 on climate change education. One of the people interviewed in that article was saying and I’m quoting “climate education should be framed in a way that incites hope and incites change.” That sounds like a very challenging, yet very important, task. How do you plan to incite hope and change in your classroom?

Professor Gyakum:

I think what we can do here is show our students tangible examples of what we as individuals can do and what we can do on a political level, albeit relatively small-scale to begin with, depending upon the students’ own personalities, to affect positive changes in our political system that would facilitate taking strong action against the ill effects of climate change. So I think this can be done really at all ages and at all levels and at all areas of expertise. I think that’s an excellent article that you were referring to. I have to produce a realistic state of affairs – there’s no question about that – but at the same time, there are good examples that I can show of individuals and also governments doing a terrific job in addressing the whole issue of climate change.


You’re making me want to take the course! Are you accepting people auditing the course?

Professor Gyakum:

Totally. It’s not a remotely-given course, so some of this depends upon the size of the classroom, of course.


Related to that, I know you have taught online before. I remember the years before the pandemic when you offered the very popular Natural Disasters course free online as a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). What lessons about the way you taught that course will inform how you teach this new in-person one?

Professor Gyakum:

So when we taught the MOOC, both John Stix and I had this idea that teaching a 45 or 75 minute lecture was just fine, but what we found with the MOOC was that we really needed to break things up and focus on a topic for a limited period of time, 10 to 15 minutes. And then, at the same time, what we found since the MOOC, and since the pandemic, is that we’re really working harder towards engaging students more proactively, even in a 600-person class. We do this with questions, feedback and even discussions. I think that’s going to be a readily available tool that we can use in this climate course, which right now has about 140 students, which is a fraction of what we have in Natural Disasters. So I’m looking forward to that.


So what you’re saying is that you’re taking the practice from your online course of integrating engaging activities and bringing that into the physical classroom?

Professor Gyakum:

Absolutely. We’re going to be using techniques to actively engage the students in every single class much more frequently than has been a typical practice. At the same time, we want to know if anything that we’ve said during the lecture has gotten into people’s brains. We can do that with some of the questions that we ask students. It’s very important. Sometimes we, as instructors, can be very surprised at what a student really learns and does not learn from what we’ve just said. [Using techniques for engaging students] is an excellent tool for gathering fairly quick feedback for both the students and the instructors.


That can help you then to tailor your teaching moving forward.

Professor Gyakum:

Yes. Even in Natural Disasters – we’ve done this for 25 years – but we’re constantly changing the way we teach.


That’s fantastic. I think that makes so much sense because every class is different and, as these things move forward and time passes, the kinds of knowledge that students are bringing to the classroom are different and that impacts what you teach.

Professor Gyakum:

That’s exactly right. And you know, one of your first questions about the demographics, I don’t know the specifics of the demographics, but I’m going to try in the very first class to engage with the students and work with them to address student strengths because the demographics of a particular class change from year to year. I want to know where they’re from, what sort of background they have. I can’t do it all in one day, but at least I can get an idea of what students’ interests are and what they would like to learn.


Excellent. What are some of the main things that you hope students will take from your class this upcoming semester? What main takeaways are you hoping they’re going to come away from your class having learned?

Professor Gyakum:

I think the real emphasis is to instill students with a good idea of what we know about climate change and in particular what we don’t know. A lot of times, politicians, naysayers and so forth spend a lot of time talking about issues that are related to climate change, which are really unknown, totally unknown. There is a lot that we do know about climate change and in particular some of the initial phases of the course are going to go into basics. We will cover what the greenhouse gases are, what they do to our climate and how we as human beings can make changes. Following up on that, we’re going to be talking about some of the implications of the science and what we can do to learn and also to work towards a better environment, a more habitable environment for humans.


Is there anything else that you want to tell me about the course?

Professor Gyakum:

Well, it’s going to be fun. I can’t wait for it to start. I realize there is a holiday coming on, but at the same time, I feel very enthusiastic and very passionate about this course. I hope to convey some of that enthusiasm and passion to the students so that they themselves will be able to move ahead and learn. And get something positive out of this course [that can help them] in the different paths they will take in the future. That might be policy, science, arts, anything that the students can do to convey their knowledge and do so in a constructive way to make our society better. So that’s my goal.


That’s a very big mission.

Professor Gyakum:

It is. In academia, we have to think big, but at the same time, we have to be practical about what we can do. But just conveying the enthusiasm to some fantastic students that we have at McGill is sometimes all it really takes to expand this vision and to make ourselves a part of a much better world. So, to some extent, I’m relying upon the wisdom and the strength and the enthusiasm of our McGill students to go forward.


You’ve got a good bank of people to do work with, that’s for sure. I think McGill students are definitely on board with this topic.

Professor Gyakum:

They certainly are and, like I said, I think I’ve told you before, I feel very privileged to be a part of the McGill community. To have you, in particular, as our librarian to help us and provide resources to students for doing their work. And the student body itself makes a huge contribution to our scholarly community. And I’m just very, very thankful that I can be a part of that.


Me too. Thank you so much. I’m really looking forward to hearing more about the class as it moves forward. It’s been really exciting to hear about the course. Thanks again!

Flick the switch. It’s time for Science Literacy Week @ McGill!

Science Literacy comes to McGill, September 18-22.

The Science Literacy Week theme this year is energy, and we have a high-powered lineup of events. It is our ninth year participating in this Canada-wide initiative, spreading our enthusiasm for science with tours, workshops, drop-ins, and talks.

Register for a workshop: You can crochet a mini sun keychain, learn the art of explaining science to non-specialists, explore LaTeX with Overleaf, take a beginner or intermediate Excel workshop, gain experience finding and understanding Canadian datasets, and follow an introduction to research data management. New this year is a workshop at the Geographic Information Centre on working with satellite and drone images at McGill, and Science for the People Canada is joining us for Science Literacy Week with a workshop on repair as culture.

Register for a tour: Do you know about the temperature sensors around McGill? Take a tour of climate sensors on campus and learn about Montreal’s urban heat island effect. You can also learn about medical simulations with a tour of the Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning, or explore our physics collections with a tour of the Rutherford Museum and McPherson Collection with curator, Professor J. Barrette.

Drop-in: Stop by and explore science history treasures in McGill’s Rare Books & Special Collections on the Thursday of Science Literacy Week, or take advantage of the daily drop-in times for the Osler Library of the History of Medicine (11am-1pm).

Take in an exhibit: There will be an exhibit, The Rise & Influence of Medicine in the Islamic World, comprising two complementary displays, one at the Islamic Studies Library and other at the Osler Library. The exhibition will be accessible during each respective library’s opening hours until December 22.

Dr Joe Schwarcz is also returning this year with a lecture on Sense, Nonsense, and Science, and Dr. Christie Rowe is going to tell us what every Montrealer should know about earthquakes.

Visit the Science Literacy Week Library guide to see our full calendar of events!

Science Literacy Week, 2022

We have been participating in this Canada-wide celebration of science since 2015, but this year really is special. We could not be more enthusiastic about welcoming you to our McGill events, some virtual and others in-person. The theme of this year’s Science Literacy Week, taking place September 19-25, is Mathematics. It is such a wonderfully broad theme that, together with our campus partners, we were able to organize an array of learning opportunities for you.

I thought that I would break it down day by day with a few insights, but first there are two exhibits that have already launched and that you can check out right away. There is a Math / Music exhibit at the Marvin Duchow Music Library with materials from their collection that demonstrate the rich connections between the two disciplines. There is also a Mathematics Redpath Book Display, both physical (in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library) and virtual for some interesting reading material.


  • Stats-wise (12-1pm; in person): I was a student of Professor Rhonda Amsel during my undergrad at McGill (last century!) and she truly is a wonderful educator. I cannot wait to hear her talk about the ‘why’ of statistics. This presentation is for everyone.
  • Introduction to Working with Data in Excel (2-4pm; virtual): This is hands-on experience for the absolute beginner.


  • The Art of Explaining Science to Non-Specialists (12-1pm; virtual): Who better to introduce this important skillset than Science Communication Specialist at the Office of Science Education, Diane Dechief? I promise that this will be one hour well spent.
  • Plant Walk and Harvest (12-1pm; in person): The folks at Redpath Museum have been huge supporters of Science Literacy Week since the beginning. There are limited spots available for this McGill garden tour.
  • Intro to LaTeX (2-3pm; virtual): Get some LaTeX practice using the free online editor, Overleaf.




That’s it so far. I’m sorry for all of the exclamation marks (it’s exciting). Register today for a workshop, or join us for one of the drop-ins. I hope to see you around 🙂

It’s Virtually Science Literacy Week!

Science Literacy Week will be celebrated this September 20 to 26 with climate as the theme. We can help you become a citizen climate scientist with a workshop on capturing the McGill Observatory’s historical weather logs with DRAW, the Data Rescue: Archives and Weather Project.

You can also learn The Art of Explaining Science to Non-Specialists, or how to turn your research into a business, with From Science to Startup: A Beginner’s Guide to Entrepreneurship as a Researcher.

If you are looking for something relaxing this semester, McGill Visual Arts Collection invites you to a Science Literacy Week edition of their on-going De-Stress + Sketch series.

Our Science Literacy Week guide also has lots of virtual exhibits and links promoting resources and materials at McGill Library and beyond, including the wonderful Ocean School from the National Film Board of Canada.

Join us as we help spread the wonders of science Canada-wide!

April is citizen science month

It is April and spring is in the air in Montreal. While it might be too late for us to collect data on local skating rinks for RinkWatch, there are a multitude of science projects that we can all take part in, from inside or outside of our homes, from wherever we may be. We can help researchers learn more about dogs, or cicadas, microbes, the weather, technologies… and the list goes on. Explore the different options in the project finder from SciStarter.

Here are a few citizen science projects from McGill:

  • DRAW McGill: Transcribe historical weather data from McGill’s Observatory.
  • Phylo: Solve a puzzle and help genetic disease research.
  • Colony B: Identify clusters of bacteria in a fast paced mobile game.

If you want to learn more about citizen science, a great place to start is with this interactive introduction to citizen science tutorial.

Happy April!

April 🙂

Science Literacy Week goes virtual

Next week is Science Literacy Week!

It is a week when we get together across the country to share our love of science, and at McGill Library we have a wonderful virtual program to share with you.

Monday, Sept. 21

  • 2 – 3 p.m. The Art of Communicating Science to Non-Specialists [register]

Wednesday, Sept. 23

  • 10:30 – 11:15 a.m., Urban Heat Island Effect [register]
  • 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Keeping Up with Artificial Intelligence – AI Literacy [register]

Thursday, Sept. 24

  • 5:30 – 7 p.m., Science Literacy Week Book Club: Data feminism, by Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F Klein. McGill users can read the e-book here. Everyone can read this book open access online here. [register].

Sunday, Sept. 27

But wait, there’s more! We have lots of ‘science at play‘ resources for you. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for daily colouring pages and puzzles made with images from items in our Rare & Special Collections. Or how about a scavenger hunt? Take photos of any of the items on this list during Science Literacy Week and tag both #SciLit and @McGillLib on social media.

Science Literacy Week scavenger hunt:

  • Interact with old tech: cassettes, mini-discs, laser discs, rotary phone, etc…
  • Find something with ‘patent pending’ or a trademark
  • Animal tracks
  • A native plant
  • A native bird
  • A rock bigger than your hand
  • A cumulus cloud 
  • Something made out of natural fibres 
  • Someone riding a bicycle 
  • Make a shadow puppet
  • A rainbow 
  • Something being reused or recycled
  • Condensation
  • A fossil
  • A data visualization
  • A DIY project
  • An example of each of the 6 classical simple machines:
    • Lever
    • Wheel and axle
    • Pulley
    • Inclined plane
    • Wedge
    • Screw

You will also find 360 videos and DIY viewer information on our guide.

Still more! Homecoming and Redpath Museum has their own lineup of virtual events. We have added them to our online calendar so be sure to check them out.

See you soon, friends (virtually).

An active Science Literacy Week

This year, Science Literacy Week will keep you moving. Beginning September 16, there are tours lined up, a game-based session around data management, a hands-on Excel workshop, interactive sound demonstrations, and exhibits to explore.

Here is the daily rundown of downtown activities organized by the Library:

Monday, (Sept 16): Montreal’s Urban Heat Island: Tour of temperature sensors on campus

Tuesday, (Sept 17): Tour of the Maude Abbott Medical Museum

Wednesday, (Sept 18): Sounds in the City + Treasures from the History of Science in Rare Books and Special Collections

Thursday, (Sept 19): Tour of the Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning + Discover the cure! An introduction to the fundamentals of data management

Friday, (Sept 20): Chart Making in Excel: Going Further by Telling a Story with your Data

Register for an event today!

We also have exhibits going on so don’t miss out on those. You will get the opportunity to test out your map literacy in the Redpath Library Building, and check out a science book in person or online.

The Ethics of Colonization on Mars

Image from Wikipedia

Welcome back to Aleiah who posted for the Turret while she was a student in Communication in Engineering (CCOM 206). Here is a post she wrote with her fellow student, Kevin Xie, for a class assignment for Engineering Professional Practice (FACC 400).

The Ethics of Colonization on Mars

Humanity is on the verge of technological advancement which will make possible the colonization of Mars, the red planet. According to SpaceX the first human is planned to land on Mars by the year 20241. However, this calls into question: Should humanity colonize Mars?

The colonization of Mars is a complex issue with many underlying aspects. There are also many technical challenges such as, overcoming cosmic radiation, bone demineralization and the psychological stress of a journey to Mars.  For Mars to be habitable by humans, it must first be terraformed. Terraforming is a process in which the environment of a planet is modified to emulate the earth. It involves the modification of the atmosphere, topography, temperature and ecology. Doing this will help scientists on Earth understand Earth’s own environment as well as facilitate human life on mars. Any technological advancements made will help all of humanity. An example of this is climate change on Earth. Understanding how to control the temperature of a planet can help solve climate change on Earth.

Whether or not the Mars colonization project is a success, humanity can benefit from this project as the technology required to successfully colonize Mars can be useful on Earth as well. For example, here are three industries that would be greatly advanced thanks to the Mars project, to the benefit of humans on Earth:

  1. Agriculture:

The World Bank reported in 20152 that approximately 11% of Earth is arable, meaning capable of being ploughed and used for crops. As human population grows and food security becomes a greater issue, the agricultural industry would benefit from technology that allowed them to farm on unforgiving land. The Mars project faces this exact design problem as humans would need to start growing their own food on Mars in order to successfully colonize there.

  1. Medical:

Astronauts face a number of health issues in space, such as loss of bone density and muscular atrophy due to the lower gravity. In particular, Mars only has 38% of Earth’s gravity. Under prolonged circumstances, astronauts could find themselves facing skeletal damage. Although the circumstances are unique to the astronauts, these health concerns are not. Osteoporosis is a common public health problem whose patients tend to neglect their medication as they don’t believe in the effectiveness of the treatment. Solving this problem for astronauts will also help these patients.

  1. Nuclear Power:

Mars offers very little radiation protection and shielding compared to Earth, due to having no magnetosphere and a very thin atmosphere. Whereas humans on Earth are naturally protected from solar radiation and galactic cosmic rays, as Earth explores more sources of energy including nuclear power, it will soon become increasingly important to create technology that would protect humans from radiation.

Additionally, it is important to think of the colonization of Mars not as a transfer, but an expansion. Creating a colony on Mars does not mean that the earth will be abandoned. It can be compared to the first European settlers arriving in America. America was simply an expansion. In order for humanity to continue to progress, Mars must be colonized.

The colonization of Mars is also a stepping stone for humans to move beyond the solar system. The knowledge gained from colonizing mars will not only pave the way to going to other planets, but also building permanently habitable space stations in which humans can live.


Arable land (% of land area). (n.d.). Retrieved November 09, 2018, from

This is how SpaceX will get humans to Mars by 2024 | CBC News. (2017, September 29). Retrieved November 09, 2018, from