Paul Weiss on the History, Success, and Future Goals of ACS Nano

Journal Interview, September 2010

ACS NanoAt the past four bimonthly updates, the journal ACS Nano has been named a Rising Star in the field of Chemistry, i.e., has had the highest percent increase in total citations out of any journal in this field in Essential Science IndicatorsSM from Thomson Reuters.

The current record for the journal in this field is 805 papers cited a total of 5,364 times between its founding in 2007 and April 30, 2010. This figure represents a 24% increase in total citations from February to April of this year.

ACS Nano is a monthly publication of the American Chemical Society. Its founding and current Editor-in-Chief is Dr. Paul S. Weiss, who is also the Fred Kavli Chair in NanoSystems Sciences, the Distinguished Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry and of Materials Science & Engineering, and the California Nanosystems Institute Director at the University of California, Los Angeles. talks with Weiss about ACS NANO's history, citation achievements, and future directions.

SW: Did you expect ACS Nano to become highly cited, or is this surprising to you?

Yes, we did expect to become highly cited. We also expect substantial increases to come! We have gone out of our way to gather the top papers and top authors for ACS Nano. We have a thorough and rapid review process, with editors who are top scientists.

We have seen at meetings that the papers we publish are cited in almost every talk in nanoscience, not just in chemistry.

For many authors, we are the top journal for comprehensive articles in nanoscience. There is a lot that goes into each article and each issue that we publish. The papers that we publish get a lot of attention, not only from the scientific community, but also from the popular and scientific press.

"One of our roles is to cross-pollinate fields by drawing readership from all contributing disciplines, and then getting each to think about the problems faced by others."

We are finding that all of the above are accelerating and feed on each other.

SW: How would you account for the high citation rate of ACS Nano?

The citation rate is a reflection of our impact on the field, and in many ways, a lagging indicator.

As noted above, we have been able to attract the top papers in the field of nanoscience and to add value in terms of how we handle and critique the manuscripts, and how much attention they receive when they are published. The breadth of the journal simply makes it an interesting read, so we have already developed a devoted following around the world.

By watching the growth in our readership, we expect that our citations will grow even faster than what you have seen with your threshold. (I note that we have 2% or larger growth in our total citations every week!)

SW: Would you give us a brief history of the journal?

ACS Nano was founded in 2007 as a sister journal to the highly successful Nano Letters, at the suggestion of Paul Alivisatos and Charlie Lieber, the Co-Editors of Nano Letters, as well as other editors at ACS.

I was selected to launch the journal as Editor-in-Chief, and chose to make it broad in terms of nanoscience (see below) and forward-looking. Both have been and continue to be important in terms of our rise.

We deliberately chose editors to be both top scientists and engineers, and to be broad in their research and their interests. This was true at the start, and continues today. We all felt that it was important to cover not just zero- and one-dimensional nanostructures, but also devices, nanolithography, self-assembly, nanotoxicology, nanomedicine, physics at the nanoscale, biomolecular machines, and other areas. We went out of our way to get the top papers in these fields and are establishing ourselves as the leaders in these areas, many of which do not have a natural home in terms of discipline.

As editors, we have continuing discussions on where the field is going, and what we would like to cover both in our articles and in our forward-looking perspective and commentary pieces.

SW: What historical factors have contributed to the success of ACS Nano?

We certainly owe a lot to our association with Nano Letters. That helped establish us at time zero.

Also, there was a tremendous hole in our field, which was that there was no one, high-impact journal that published comprehensive articles in the broad field of nanoscience. In our field, research groups would publish comprehensive articles in more specialized journals, and would then be frustrated that we were missing key readers from other fields. Comprehensive articles are important because these articles enable others to reproduce one's work.

"As editors, we have continuing discussions on where the field is going, and what we would like to cover both in our articles and in our forward-looking perspective and commentary pieces."

At the start, we decided that we could have a significant impact on the field by laying out the challenges ahead, and the potential impact, by having forward-looking commentaries—Perspectives, Conversations with leaders in the field, Reviews, and Nano Focus articles on meetings and prizes. These have turned out to be successful far beyond our expectations, and have helped establish our position in nanoscience.

SW: Have there been specific developments in the fields served by ACS Nano that may have contributed?

Nanoscience is moving forward so rapidly! Our goal is to accelerate and to direct that by publishing papers that allow one group to build on the work of others, and to lay out the critical challenges that we face. One of our roles is to cross-pollinate fields by drawing readership from all contributing disciplines, and then getting each to think about the problems faced by others.

SW: What, in your view, is this journal's main significance or contribution in the field of Chemistry?

Our contributions deliberately extend far beyond chemistry. As I mention above and below, we try to move the field forward more rapidly by publishing top comprehensive papers with sufficient detail for others to use for further advances, and to look ahead with our authors and readers on where the field is or should be going.

SW: How do you see your field(s) evolving in the next few years?

We anticipate continued acceleration and excitement in nanoscience. We expect that the field will have significant impact on the challenges the world faces. We are doing our best as a journal to make this happen and to speed the ascent of the field.

SW: What role do you see for your journal?

We set out to lead, to shape, and to guide the field of nanoscience, and this remains our goal. We knew we could not do that by being a "boutique" journal, publishing only a few articles every issue.

We feel that it is most important to make connections between all the areas of our field, because we have a great deal to learn from each other, and there are contributions and solutions that can come from many different fields to make progress on the challenges we face in the field and in the world.End

ACS Nano
Paul S. Weiss, Editor-in-Chief
American Chemical Society, publishers


Becerril HA, et al., "Evaluation of solution-processed reduced graphene oxide films as transparent conductors," ACS Nano 2(3): 463-70, March 2008, with 127 cites. Source: Essential Science Indicators from Thomson Reuters .


  • ACS Nano was a Rising Star in chemistry in September, July, May, and March of 2010.



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