High-impact science, captured in Transactions on Smart Grid and Transactions on Sustainable Energy

By Mohammad Shahidehpour, Editor-in-chief, IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid; Bodine Chair Professor; Director, Robert W. Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation; Associate Director, Wanger Institute for Sustainability and Energy Research

I'm pleased to call attention to the high impact and influence that IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid and Transactions on Sustainable Energy have achieved of late. With a multi-Society, interdisciplinary approach, both Transactions have embodied the IEEE mission and vision to "foster technological innovation … for the benefit of humanity."

Fundamental shifts in the energy landscape led me five years ago to propose these new journals – Transactions on Smart Grid to encompass the intelligent, self-healing technologies that are transforming the grid, and Transactions on Sustainable Energy to focus on emerging, non-thermal generation sources.

Both Transactions have achieved high-water marks for their readership impacts as measured by the Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Report released last year. The prestige of these two journals also registered high marks via their Eigenfactor scores and enviable Article Influence Scores, another metric related to prestige. (Click on any of the links for more details on these metrics.)

The actual scores are less important than what they represent: these metrics mean that authors who contribute to either Transactions are very likely to be read and their work valued by a global audience of power engineers as well as researchers in related fields. And it means that the topics we've chosen to feature in these Transactions align well with the most pressing energy issues of our day. Research that feeds real-world outcomes fills our pages.

Although our achievements as measured by these metrics are cause for celebration, the missing metric – perhaps the most powerful one – is word of mouth. The success of both Transactions, I believe, is also due to our global yet closely knit, gregarious community of researchers and readers. When an author or group of authors makes a splash in Transactions, the resulting buzz is heard 'round the world.

As editor-in-chief of Transactions on Smart Grid, I'd like to make a few points on how it has evolved in recent years and on its editorial process.

Today, Transactions on Smart Grid is a joint publication of multiple IEEE societies, including the Computational Intelligence Society, Communications Society, Computer Society, Control Systems Society, Industry Applications Society, Industrial Electronics Society, Instrumentation and Measurement Society, Power Electronics Society, Power & Energy Society and Signal Processing Society.

Since we established this multi-society sponsorship, we have increased interest while maintaining our fundamental focus. Although the move to multi-Society sponsorship and topics initially was resisted by many in the Power and Energy Society, I believe the high impact scores cited above reflect broad recognition that Smart Grid is indeed a cross-disciplinary topic that reaches into many domains. Certainly the journal's readership and influence has grown as a result.

In short, "energy supports everything" and our latest successes underscore the interconnectedness of electricity and most if not all the pillars of modern society. The impact and prestige scores I've cited also reflect that our authors and editors have focused on the most pertinent topics of the day.

Let's touch on a handful of topics that have produced these high-impact metrics.

Microgrids and the controls that enable them, for instance, are delivering the flexibility, control and efficiencies that aid reliability, resiliency and sustainability for parties at the edge of the grid and for the grid itself. Cyber and physical security, of course, are major concerns in a post-9/11 world. Data, data networks and data analysis enable these applications, so we've developed an ongoing emphasis there as well.

A word on the Transactions on Smart Grid editorial process may be valuable to all involved. As editor-in-chief, for instance, I provide the initial screening for incoming papers submitted for publication. Typically, I filter the papers for their relevance to Smart Grid. Relevant papers then are directed to a team of perhaps 60 editors, each of whom has specialized knowledge in certain subtopics. The editors, in turn, find qualified peers to review each paper and provide insights on its strengths and weaknesses. The peer review process, of course, is anonymous.

The process from submission to publication can range from as little as four months to perhaps 18 months, based on two fundamental criteria. Is the topic familiar or esoteric? The less esoteric, the easier and swifter it is to find qualified editors and reviewers. We do not shy away from esoteric topics, they simply take longer to review. Is the article clearly written? Clarity serves the reader and requires less editing and, thus, time.

As Transactions on Smart Grid has evolved, we've created special issues focused on one topic or provided a themed section within an issue to reflect a body of emerging research. Guest editors are invited to shepherd these special editions or sections to fruition. This process tends to attract expert authors and editors, which broadens our members' participation, strengthens the journal's contents and boosts readership – an ideal outcome.

In fact, to give you a sense of how all involved have succeeded, in a recent call for papers, we budgeted time and staff for about 150 incoming papers, yet we received nearly 400 abstracts!

What's next? We believe the topics we've cited will continue to inspire researchers and readers alike. But we can certainly forecast a few, related topics likely to appear in the pages of Transactions on Smart Grid.

On the microgrid side, the potential efficiencies of directly linking DC-generating solar, wind and other sources with DC-consuming electronics, lighting and other end uses will drive intense interest. The intersection between cyber and physical security is little explored and we can anticipate greater attention to this topic. Clearly, the proliferation of sensors, algorithms and applications will continue to drive the era of so-called Big Data, which presents myriad challenges that must be met.

All these topics and more will undoubtedly drive further research to fill our pages and enable an avid readership to absorb the research and develop real-world outcomes to serve humanity. In fact, I foresee a near-term surge in energy awareness by the general public, which can only drive further interest in and appreciation of our collective efforts. In closing, I'd like to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to all IEEE volunteers who participate in the creation of these two influential journals. As for me, it's been an honor to be involved and I look forward to greater milestones for our collective impacts.