Wednesday, 24 July 2013

RSC Advances: using a topic modelling text mining tool to improve discoverability

RSC Advances has been shortlisted for the ALPSP Award for Best New Journal 2013. Here in a guest post the publisher, Emma Wilson, explains how they developed the journal to find a home for research that does not fit in within the existing Royal Society of Chemistry journals programme.

"Over the last 5 years there has been a significant shift in both the global output of scientific research and in the growth of funding levels, through which we identified several emerging markets. From discussions with key scientists working in these areas we received feedback that the Royal Society of Chemistry is seen as a fair, inclusive, well respected, and high quality society publisher. However, it also highlighted that some authors felt they did not have a “society home” for their work, due to their research not fitting within the journals published by the RSC.

This community feedback led us to shape the idea and strategy for RSC Advances. The Journal’s vision is to provide a high quality society publishing option for all sections of the community, including emerging research areas and markets. The Journal is aligned to the Royal Society of Chemistry’s charter objective of ‘advancing the chemical sciences’, including the specific mission “to foster the chemical sciences by the dissemination of chemical knowledge”.

Topic modelling to improve discoverability
The ethos of the Journal is to be innovative and inclusive, providing exceptional levels of author service and support during the publication process, thereby facilitating the publication process and dissemination of the authors work. 


The Journal is supported by an international Editorial and Advisory Board led by Professor Mike Ward from the University of Sheffield, UK.

An innovative topic modelling tool was developed for RSC Advances. A sophisticated, behind the scene, text mining tool (developed in-house) classifies all the published papers into one or more of twelve main subject categories in the chemical sciences. The online functionality improves discoverability of authors’ research, ensuring readers go directly to the content of interest to them.



The success of the Journal has exceeded our high expectations. In just over a year after the publication of the first issue we celebrated publishing our 2000th article, and have moved to weekly publication. The Journal has also attracted many new authors to the Royal Society of Chemistry. The acceptance of the Journal by the community has also been further demonstrated by the release of its first (partial) impact factor of 2.56, placing it above the median impact factor for chemistry journals.

At the RSC we are constantly looking to improve the author and reader experience and RSC Advances, as an innovative online Journal, is pushing these boundaries."

RSC Advances was launched in 2011 by the Royal Society of Chemistry. It is an online Journal publishing well conducted research that furthers the field from across all the chemical sciences, with a particular focus on interdisciplinary and emerging areas.

Emma Wilson is Publisher for RSC Advances and has worked at the Royal Society of Chemistry as a journal publisher since 2006. She has strategic oversight and responsibility for 16 titles in the General Chemistry, Organic, Environment Science and Biological portfolios. Prior to working at the Royal Society of Chemistry Emma worked in a variety of roles in Elsevier’s Life Science Division.

The ALPSP Awards finalists will be given the opportunity to showcase their journal or innovation in a rapid fire session at the ALPSP International Conference on Wednesday 11 September.

The winners will be announced at the Conference Awards Dinner on 12 September. Book now to secure your place.

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