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Dr. Kathleen Canul is the inaugural ACS Publications Ombudsperson and assumed the role in October 2021. She is a licensed psychologist with B.A. and M.S. degrees in psychology and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Dr. Canul has over 20 years of experience serving as an ombudsperson, including hearing concerns associated with research and publications. She is currently the Director of Ombuds Services at the University of California, Los Angeles, and is a member of the International Ombudsman Association. Additionally, Dr. Canul has served as an ombuds consultant, taught courses in psychology and on the ombuds profession, and is fluent in both English and Spanish.

Dr. Canul can be contacted by email or phone about concerns regarding the ACS Publications peer review process.

ACS Publications Ombudsperson Purpose and Scope

The purpose of the Ombudsperson is to serve as an independent liaison between ACS Publications and the chemistry community to address concerns about Editors, Editorial Advisory Board (EAB) members or reviewers regarding the peer review process.

Specific areas that fall under the Ombudsperson’s remit include:

  • Editor misconduct (suspected bias, handling of the peer review process, mismanagement of appeals and concerns around scientific misconduct, etc.)
  • EAB member and reviewer misconduct (suspected bias, peer-review manipulation)
  • Editor professionalism
  • Editor and EAB member conduct at events at which they are representing ACS Publications

The Ombudsperson does not investigate complaints about journal content or concerns about scientific misconduct by authors, which need to be brought to the attention of the relevant journal and/or institution. However, the Ombudsperson is available to provide guidance on approaching these items with a journal or other formal channels. Additionally, the Ombudsperson’s scope excludes manuscript decisions without clear indication of bias. The Ombudsperson has sole discretion over whether or how to act on a concern and may also initiate action on a concern identified through their own observation. The Ombudsperson will handle cases confidentially and maintain anonymity to the greatest extent possible.

The Ombudsperson may inform ACS Publications leadership of a case if they received permission to do so. ACS Publications leadership then decides whether any action is necessary and what this action should entail. The Ombudsperson does not participate in any formal investigative or resolution processes. They will remain in touch with the person of contact who brought forward a concern until a resolution has been reached and will inform them of the outcome, if appropriate.

The ACS Publications Ombudsperson program is independent, neutral, informal, and confidential.

In addition to her role as ombudsperson for ACS Publications, Kathleen is the Director of Ombuds Services at the University of California, Los Angeles. She also serves as a consultant to various professional associations, which have been disclosed to the ACS and are reviewed annually. All Ombuds services provided to ACS follow the International Ombudsman Association’s tenets of independence, impartiality, informality, and confidentiality and do not represent affiliation with any other organization.