Introducing Philippine Science Letters: A new, peer-reviewed, online Pinoy journal (We do it our way!)
STAR SCIENCE - Gisela P. Padilla-Concepcion, Ph.D. () - October 4, 2007 - 12:00am

More than three years ago, I started STAR SCIENCE and today, this weekly column is still running — made possible by the collective efforts of many Filipino scientists based in the Philippines and abroad. Thanks to all those who have contributed articles — now totaling over 150. Keep the articles coming so that we can sustain STAR SCIENCE. You would be doing our countrymen a service by sharing with them your scientific work and your views relating to science.

While many have written about their scientific work and interests in STAR SCIENCE, some have expressed views on how science should be done in the Philippines. A few have lamented the poor S&T management and have blamed this for our country’s non-competitive position with our neighboring countries. Recent developments, however, point to a silver lining for S&T in our country. The government is now listening to us and giving S&T more support.

Of great concern to us in the academe is the publication of our research. We know that scientific findings should first be verified before further work is pursued. To verify a study, it should be reviewed by other scientists who are competent to evaluate and validate it, and who can offer constructive advice to improve it. Sharing and publishing one’s scientific work is key to improving one’s scientific output and one’s performance as a scientist. If the fundamental science is good, then it can eventually yield good technologies — good products and services — that are useful to our country.

Presently, not enough of us are able to publish our work — for various reasons. And yet I know there are many local researchers who are doing good work with just limited funding — work that is relevant to our country’s needs. And they are overworked — being engaged in teaching, administrative work and extension work, aside from research. We should encourage and support them to publish their work in a feasible, affordable and timely manner.

Today, we would like to introduce a new, peer-reviewed, online Pinoy scientific journal — the PHILIPPINE SCIENCE LETTERS or “PSL” — featuring the science being done in the Philippines and the work of Filipino scientists here and abroad. It is important to document and publicize the work of Filipinos and so we aim to produce a world-class scientific journal that will accomplish this. Filipinos have reason to be proud of our science and our scientists. We aim to produce a scientific journal that Filipinos will also be proud of.

To ensure the high quality of PSL, distinguished Filipino scientists here and abroad will be encouraged to write articles, e.g., mini-reviews, and will also be requested to serve in the board of reviewers. Because of this and because PSL will be multidisciplinary in coverage (Yes, there are enough Filipino experts in the various fields who are willing to serve as reviewers!), we will be able to sustain a good number of articles of high quality annually. This will allow PSL to become an ISI or world-class journal quickly.

The types of articles to be featured in PSL are reviews, mini-reviews, regular articles, short communications and letters to the editor. Hopefully, local scientists will be attracted to publish in PSL, because being online, there will be no prohibitive charges for the publication of colored figures and photographs. (Many leading international journals charge unaffordable fees for these.) Short studies or those that are limited in scope, performed with a limited budget, will be acceptable, as long as they are of good quality. (Many leading international journals accept only papers on comprehensive studies or on several related studies, obviously performed with funding and technical capabilities not found in the Philippines.) Our young scientists will not be afraid to submit papers to PSL because the Filipino reviewers chosen will be those who will offer constructive advice in a non-intimidating, helpful manner. Because PSL is online, articles will be published in real time — as soon as they have been approved for publication by the editor. There will be no quarterly or semi-annual issues, just an accumulation of articles online annually.

At the onset, we are assured of enough articles that can be published in PSL. We have identified at least four professional societies that feature peer-reviewed extended abstracts or short articles as part of the proceedings of their annual meetings. We will select the best articles from these proceedings and invite the authors to submit expanded papers to PSL. The papers will be examined further by the PSL reviewers. Once the PSL attains ISI status, we expect to see a snowballing effect. Many more Filipino scientists will submit articles to sustain PSL.

The cost of maintaining PSL will be affordable because it is online and so no printing costs will be incurred. PSL will be privately funded and so there will be no hindrances to its operation by bureaucratic procedures and politics. Some will say that there are already too many Philippine journals. I say competition, especially from the private sector, is good and will improve the performance of every journal. The PSL interactive website will be maintained properly and will contain information on PSL in general, the editors and working team, guidelines and scope for authors, guidelines for reviewers, online submission, online status of submission, online articles: current, past and archived articles, and search functions by issue, year, article, author, theme, key words, other information and links.

The key to the success of a journal is its chief editor. PSL is possible only because Dr. Ed Padlan has agreed to become its chief editor. (We may continue to discuss what is good or not good in our country and our science, but the bottom line is what we are willing to do, how we are willing to act, what efforts and sacrifices we are willing to make, to pursue our ideas and beliefs. Let us be constructive and proactive. Let our words take concrete form in our actions.) We are grateful that Dr. Padlan has made it one of his missions to make PSL a scientific journal that Filipinos can be proud of. My staff at UPMSI and I will be there to support him and we will be involved in the management of PSL.

As scientists, we share the common (international) goals and standards of scientific truth and verification. But also as scientists, it is not surprising that we can be nonconformist or independent-minded, not only in the ways we find scientific solutions to specific problems, but also in the way we disseminate our scientific results. We can do it OUR OWN WAY, just like for many years, Japan, China, India and the Western world did it their way. (It is only in more recent years that India and China are publishing their science in international journals.) Considering the limited resources and the still-not-so favorable conditions of science in the Philippines, PSL could be our own way of publishing our science.

Based on my experience in STAR SCIENCE, I am optimistic that the PHILIPPINE SCIENCE LETTERS will become a success because we will get the support of Filipino scientists and other science-oriented groups here and abroad. After all, a scientific journal is as important, if not more important than a science column, in improving and promoting science in our country. PSL will begin accepting papers early next year. Await the completion and announcement of its website toward the end of this year. I hope you will help propel PSL!

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Gisela P. Padilla-Concepcion, Ph.D., is a professor at the Marine Science Institute, UP Diliman, where she teaches graduate courses and conducts research on bioactive marine natural products and related biomedical fields. E-mail her at

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