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Getting ready for Extreme Mechanics Letters

Zhigang Suo's picture

We are launching a new journal, Extreme Mechanics Letters. EML will publish letter-sized papers. We aim to achieve rapid communication. Our goal is to have the accepted papers published within 6-8 weeks upon submission.  We aim to build a home at the frontier of engineering, medicine, science and entertainment, where advances are rapid and mechanics matters.  We seek papers from researchers in all disciplines. 

We will start to review submissions on 1 October 2014, and publish first papers by 1 December 2014. The beginning issues will be freely accessible online, and printed copies will be distributed at conferences.

We love to publish your extremely new ideas on extremely useful and extremely interesting mechanics. Please submit your papers soon.

EML is published by Elsevier. We have started a website for EML, and will keep updating it in coming weeks.

EML will cover experimental, theoretical, and computational mechanics—of physical, chemical and biological processes—at all length and time scales. Of particular interest will be works that highlight mechanics of depth, originality and immediacy, in advancing fields of vital significance to the society, such as healthcare, energy, environment, water, climate, and security.

We seek papers from researchers in all disciplines. Mechanics appeals to talents of all kinds. Good mechanics has long been created by people from many fields, by Galileo, Newton, Maxwell and Faraday, as well as by Watt, Darwin, Wright brothers and Whitesides. People make discoveries in mechanics often when doing something else (e.g., in seeking evidence for the existence of God, in building cathedrals, in flying airplanes, in laying transatlantic telegraph cables, in fabricating microprocessors, in watching cells move, in fracking for gas, in inventing optical tweezers, in creating soft lithography, in developing wearable or implantable electronics). Mechanics discovered in one field invariably finds applications in other fields.

Let us work together to build an extremely sweet home at the frontier of engineering, medicine, science and entertainment, where advances are rapid and mechanics matters.

Attached please find a flyer and a slide that describe the scope and aims of EML. Please help us spread the word. Post the flyer on bulletin boards. Show the slide in your talks. Talk to your colleagues about Extreme Mechanics Letters. And, of course, submit your papers to EML.

Thank you very much.

Team EML


Associate Editors

Executive Publisher


  • Annie Grace Arulanandaraj, Elsevier
  • Sreela Kurup, Elsevier


Hanqing Jiang's picture

Thanks Zhigang for posting this announcement! It is exciting for the launch of EML, a new home to bridge mechanics (extreme mechanics) and other disciplines!  We can continue the list of "making discoveries in mechanics when doing something else". 

K Jimmy Hsia's picture

Thanks, Zhigang for posting the note.

Over the past few years, there have been numerous discussions among friends and colleagues about the urgent needs for a forum for rapid publications of letter-sized papers for mechanics related research in new, interdisciplinary, emergent areas. Although we all know there are so many journals nowadays, to many of us, there is a void in the existing publication venue for fast communication of mechanics related research. There are ample very interesting mechanics problems and challenges in these areas, such as in soft materials, at small length scales, instability/bifurcation, fluid droplet on patterned solid surfaces, battery materials, cellular and molecular mechanics in biological systems, to mention a few (other examples are given in EML's Aims and Scope). EML intends to help fill that void and meet the needs of the community.

As Zhigang mentioned, we hope EML will be your home to publish your most interesting and recent discoveries in mechanics related ressearch. Your support and contributions will be critical. Your ideas of how to make EML succesful will be truly appreciated.

Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Jimmy, Thank you so much for being the ringleader of Team EML, and for getting us this far.  At the end of your comment, you called for participation from mechanicians to contribute ideas that shape the development of EML.  Your call reminds me of early days of iMechanica, when Pradeep Sharma initiated a call to ask users of iMechanica to shape the development of iMechanica Journal Club.  The online discussion of his proposal greatly influenced how the Journal Club operates.

Your comments also reminds me of an early post that introduced iMechanica:

"iMechanica runs as a common, like Boston Common or Central Park. A common belongs to no one in particular, but belongs to whoever uses it. There is time to relax in a common, there is time to build one. Both bring you enjoyment. The best way to help building iMechanica is to think what is good for you. Let software and the collective behavior of all users take care of the community. And so, my fellow mechanicians: ask not what you can do for iMechanica - ask what iMechanica can do for you."

I paraphrase the best known Bostonian again.  And so, my fellow extreme mechanicians: ask not what you can do for EML - ask what EML can do for you.  

Let us work together to build a home for all of us.  Please comment and let us know how you want this new home.

Zhigang Suo's picture

Our website is evolving.  Sulin has just reported that on this page John Rogers's photo looks like Julia Greer.  Not sure this mistake will be fixed over the weekend.   The mistake is interesting, but is probably not intentional.  Please let us know if you spotted more mistakes.

Pradeep Sharma's picture

Zhigang, I am delighted to see the launch of the new journal. I look forward to reading its first issue. In particular, I have long felt that there is a need for a "letters" forum.

I find the word "extreme" in the title of the journal, somewhat intimidating. For example, I am unsure what kind of my own work would fit this journal. I realize that the first issue is not out yet (--and this may very well answer my question). Alternatively, perhaps you can give some concrete examples of papers that have been published elsewhere, but would have fit EML.

I am assuming that one of the distinguishing factors of EML, compared to other mechanics journals, would be a rapid review process. The time line that you have indicated, 6-8 weeks between submission and acceptance, is quite attractive.

Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Pradeep, I will ask Katia to explain what "Extreme Mechanics" is.  Here is a news article in Nature describing a vibrant, young community.

EML aims to publish works at the frontier of engineering, medicine, science and entertainment, where advances are rapid and mechanics matters.  You may say "extreme" means "frontier".  Under the Aims and Scope, there is a list of sample topics of interest.

At the moment such papers are scattered in journals in materials science, physics, chemistry and biology.  We want to build a home for people at the frontier, where conditions are harsh, and mechanics is perhaps not refined, but is very robust. 

So far as I am concerned, all your work fits.

Teng Li's picture

Pradeep, your first impression on the word "extreme" in the title of EML is as natural as many of us at EML team. "Extreme" in EML could be be in a variety of aspects, not limited to material properties. As a starting list of examples, both the EML flyer and the slide include the following:

  • Extremely fast
  • Extremely small
  • Extremely large
  • Extremely soft
  • Extremely hard
  • Extremely new
  • Extremely useful
  • Extremely interesting
  • ...

The list remains open and awaits fellow mechanicians to enrich and shape. Here is another try: EML welcomes all extremely high quality submissions.  

Teng Li's picture

"...on average, the reads of a published paper would be about 4~5 times, which include the author, the journal editor, and... about 2~3 reviewers."

As authors, we often lol about old jokes like this. On a second thought, however, in the era of abundant information and scarce attention, more and more papers could fall into such a catagory. While the long tail effect can be in place for business world where a univeral measure (i.e., profit) exists, for scientific community which much values interactions and impacts, papers falling into the long tail can hardly accumulate momentum.  How to leverage resources to better communicate within scientific community in the era of cyberculture? This remains as an open question. 

The story of iMechanica Journal Club as Zhigang mentioned above is one of many that are essential for the steady growth of iMechanica, now in its eighth year. Now EML opens up a new publishing venue with the aim to meet the needs of the community, as Jimmy elaborated above. Just as many mechanicians have influenced and shaped the form and run of iMechanica through their creative thoughts and practices, inputs from the community would be critical for delineating the needs and shaping EML into a home meet our needs. 

K Jimmy Hsia's picture

Dear friends and colleagues,

EML will go through the "developmental" stage in the coming weeks, months and perhaps years, in the same sense as in problems of "developmental biology": growing, shaping and reshaping, and evolving. Even the style guidance for authors is being discussed and debated by the EML team. Currently we prefer a style that would not require abstract, but provide guidance on the structure of the first, summary paragraph of a letter paper. The summary paragraph will then be made available to all by Elsevier. The paper length will be up to 5 printed pages with up to 5 tables/figures. We believe a more flexible style would allow researchers to tell their "stories" best. You know how to decorate your home (in EML's case, your common) better than anyone else.

Thoughts on the style requirements on submissions? We are all ears.

Zhigang Suo's picture

This is a timely topic.  Enthusiastic authors have already asked us for the style of an EML paper.  As Jimmy noted, we have not reached a decision yet.  But this should not prevent you from starting to draft a paper, ready to submit on October 1.  The overall styles of journals of letter-sized papers are quite similar.  Take a look at PRL, APL and AM, and you get the idea.  4-5 printed pages, and 4-5 display items.  So, by all means draft your paper now, and modify the style later.

On closer examination of the existing journals of letter-sized papers, we do need to make a basic choice about the style. Do we want an abstract or not?

Journals without abstracts:

  • Advanced Materials
  • Nature

Journals with abstracts:

  • Physical Review Letters
  • Applied Physics Letters
  • Nano Letters
  • Science

My own preference is no abstract. The first paragraph can serve the role of an abstract (e.g., in submission, in online display, in ISI and Scopus). This practice is used by Natures.  Nature provides an annotated example for the summary paragraph.  This structure makes the paper easy to read and easy to review.   

Abstract takes a lot of time to write, but contains no additional information (much ado about nothing). The abstract repeats the same points that should be prominently stated in the first paragraph or the last paragraph of the paper. The abstract occupies space, and takes time from the reader.

But most journals have abstracts. Authors are familiar with this style.

Do we want the style of Advanced Materials, or Applied Physics?  Take a look at papers in the two journals. They look rather different.  The choice is probably not critical, but we need to make a choice.

We would like to hear your opinion.  Please comment.

Lihua Jin's picture

I like Nature style too. You can quickly find the information you want as long as you know its rule.

However, papers on Advance Materials don't usually have a strict rule, so I often need to read several paragraphs, although I am paid back by knowing more background. In that case, I would prefer to have an abstract. 

Zhigang Suo's picture

Excellent point!  Thank you Lihua for this observation.  For an article in Advanced Materials, there are a few sentences and a figure in the table of contents.  They somewhat serve the purpose of an abstract.  However, they are not in the PDF file of the paper. 

Authors perhaps tend to write the key sentence "here we show..." in later paragraphs, or not at all.  Here the abstract serves a clear function.  It summarizes what is new.

If EML does not have an abstract, we should have a clear description of the structure of the summary paragraph.  


Yi Yang's picture

Dear All,

It is very nice to see that we will have a new journal in the mechanics community. 

Just a quick observation on the web of EML. In the Editorial Borad, it seems to me that John's photo was replaced by Julia's. 

I look forward to reading the first issue of EML. Thanks for all the efforts.

Zhigang Suo's picture

Thank you Yi!  We are amused too.  See a previous comment.

Julia R. Greer's picture

What? You don't think that John looks like a blonde woman???


katia bertoldi's picture

Here is a piece of history regarding the term "Extreme mechanics". In 2010 Pedro Reis (MIT) and myself were asked to organize a symposium within the APS March Meeting. GSNP unit ( was interested in a symposium on elasticity and large deformations. We submitted a proposal, suggesting "Elasticity and Deformation" as title. GSNP accepted the proposal, but  decided the title was too plain and since with large deformation you can get crazy shapes, they decided to name it "Extreme Mechanics". Both Pedro and I were very surprised by the name and pointed out to GSNP that "extreme" in engineering is often associated to high strain rate and it has a sort of different meaning, but it was too late to change it (and GNSP was still convinced is was a very cool name). I am not sure if the name contributed, but the symposium was a big success. We got more than 60 abstracts and the room was packed for 2 entire days. For sure the name generated curiosity and people were stopping by to see what is "Extreme mechanics" and apparently they like it. We basically had 2 days of talks on large deformation and instability of plate rods and solids. Since then it was not  possible to change back the name, since people started identifying their research with it and the symposium has been growing year after year. 
So this is my piece of story: "Extreme Mechanics" started a as a joke, but people like it.

Konstantin Volokh's picture

Dear Zhigang,

Congrats on the new journal. Nowadays, to work on mechanics is an extreme venture by itself because the subject is not very popular. Once we talked about the necessity to have a journal similar to PRL for Mechanics community. I hope your journal will be the one. If you could provide the extremely fast process from the submission to the print then the journal title would be justified.

Good luck!


Zhigang Suo's picture

Talk we did!  Over the years many of us have talked about the need for a letter-sized journal in mechanics.  I myself was guilty of just talking.  But Jimmy, Teng and Sulin did something.  Back in 2009, the three musketeers initiated a serious plan to start a journal of letter-sized papers in mechanics, and that plan eventually got us here.  Jimmy has been our leader since.

Xuanhe Zhao's picture

Dear Zhigang and all,

Congratulations on the new journal! It seems to me that applied mechanics has evolved into a "commodity" subject that supports, bridges and enables various other disciplines ranging from energy, biomedicine to electronics. While interdisciplinary journals such as Science and Nature recogonize that a paper's impact is maximized if it is as short as is consistent with providing a focused message, a letter-style interdisciplinary journal is indeed much needed in the mechanics community. Look forward to seeing papers published in EML!

Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Xuanhe:  Thank you very much for your enthusiasm.  You and your young colleagues will be the prime movers to build EML.  In coming weeks, we will have iMechanica discussions on specifics of how to build EML.  Please contribute your thoughts on how you want EML to operate.

This morning I checked the word "commodity" on Wikipedia.  In economics, says Wikipedia, a commodity is a marketable item that satisfies wants and needs.  Examples include coffee beans and tea leaves.  Following this analogy, all established disciplines (chemistry, physics, biology, and yes, mechanics) are commodity subjects.  Mechanics has a large number of marketable items that satisfy wants and needs:  finite element software, tensile machines, handbooks of stress intensity factors, textbooks...  Mechanics also has a large number of people who know how to use software, machines, handbooks and textbooks.

More important to EML, mechanics is always in the process of inventing new types of commodity items, things that people do not even know they want and need.  Examples include deformation generated by unusual mechanisms, methods to map deformation in new ways, software that can really do "multi-physics" well.  In short, it is this type of mechanics that EML aims to capture.

Please submit your best work to EML.  Mobilize your young colleagues to submit theirs also.

Warm regards as always.

Harold S. Park's picture

Dear Zhigang, Teng, Sulin and Jimmy - first of all, let me express my sincere thanks and gratitude that you are attempting to do something new and positive for the mechanics community - I'm sure it's been a significant time commitment.  I have some questions and concerns regarding the need for another journal.  I understand, and agree with the notion that certain journals (PRL, PRB, others), where mechanics researchers have published things that intersect with other fields, have become less receptive to our papers.  But I guess I am wondering why, if this is the case, we wouldn't advocate for pushing journals like IJSS, JMPS, or JAM (particularly now with its much faster review/publishing under Yonggang Huang) to publish more of this type of interdisciplinary research that requires mechanics?  One possible reason for this is that these journals are established as our bread and butter mechanics journals - is it better to start from scratch than to build up something that already has a well-earned name?  The counterpoint of course (and I recognize) is that I have seen examples in other fields (Nanoscale, Advanced Energy Materials, etc) where newly formed journals have quickly become very high-impact.  Obviously I'm not sure what the correct way forward is, but I'm interested in the thought process that led you to decide that starting a new journal would be better.

I am also, like Pradeep, a little unsure as to what fits in the "extreme" mechanics category.  Is the "extreme" mainly due to intersection with new problem areas or coupled physics phenomena?  Is it something else? 

Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Harold:  Thank you so much for being direct.  I appreciate your thoughts on EML, and on mechanics in general.  You have raised an important question:  Given the existing journals in mechanics (JAM, IJSS, JMPS, etc.), do we need yet another journal in mechanics?

In planning the launch in recent months, Team EML has been focussing on logistics.  We did have long discussions among ourselves over the years.  Other members of the team will comment, here is my take on the issues.  

Fast.  When Jimmy, Sulin and Teng (the three musketeers) initiated the plan, in 2009, all mechanics journals were slow.  Yonggang has since dramatically increased the speed at JAM.  His effort is likely to have lasting impact.  Authors now have a clear and significant reason to choose JAM, and other journals are likely to speed up.  If mechanicians want speed, we can wait for other journals (e.g., IJSS, JMPS, etc.) to catch up with JAM.  If the speed is only concern, we can even accelerate the catching-up process by submitting our best works to JAM.  Your choice may please Yonggang, and may put pressure on Kaushik, Huajian, Stelios and David.  This healthy competition will only benefit mechanics.  Of course, Yonggang has also set a standard for EML.  You ask, Why EML?

Letter-style.  Many people have talked about the significance of letter-style journals.  EML aims to fulfill this role.  If successful, the impact can be significant.  

Diverse.  We seek papers from people in all disciplines.   In recent decades, American Chemical Society has started many new journals in many fields, where advances are fast and chemistry matters.  These journals have attracted many non-chemists.  Even I publish more papers in ACS journals than in mechanics journals.  EML aims to attract authors and (readers!) in mechanics, as well as in other disciplines.   

A large open space.  EML aims to create a home at the frontier of engineering, medicine, science and entertainment, where advances are rapid, and mechanics matters.  If chemistry is a central science, of course mechanics is also a central science.  Our aim is not to compete with established journals in mechanics, just as Nano Letters does not aim to compete with established journals in chemistry (e.g., Journal of American Chemical Society).  EML aims to sit in the big space between mechanics and everything else.  

K Jimmy Hsia's picture

Thank you, Harold, for your very thoughtful comments. Zhigang's reply addressed many of your wonderful comments. Let me say a few words about the "extreme" question you raised. As you can probably imagine, the name of the journal was the first serious (and sometimes heated) debate among us as soon as the core of TEAM EML formed. We even carried out an online survey within a limited circle. Eventually Katia's story (see Katia's posting yesterday) convinced us that we don't necessarily need to follow the established convention.

What's in a name? It is something that the people who use that name defined it.  The beauty of Katia's story is that by presenting exciting papers at the "Extreme Mechanics" symposium, they redefined the concept of "Extreme Mechanics". There are of course many names that cannot be redefined (e.g., Newton's first law). But I suspect "Extreme Mechanics" will continue to be defined and redefined in the future. For EML, it will be the content that defines Extreme Mechanics Letters. Another possible benefit for having "extreme" in the name, you can always be MORE extreme than "Extreme". So we hope EML will always be on the very cutting edge of mechanics related research.

Sulin Zhang's picture

The first post about EML by Zhigang three days ago has already received 3000+ reads, which clearly created tremendous excitements and expectations within the mechanics community.  As a letter-sized new journal, all the readers know that an attractive feature of EML is the rapid review process. Yet another critical factor of EML, indicated by Zhigang and Jimmy’s posts but worth emphasizing explicitly, is that EML is not just for the mechanics community, but seeks for contributions (where mechanics matters) from researchers in all the other disciplines.

Our fellow mechanicians have been essential players to the success of well-established letter-size journals (Physical Review Letters, Nano Letters, Applied Physics Letters) by publishing their best mechanics work on them. Likewise, the future of EML is not just in the hands of our mechanicians, but also contributors from other disciplines. So as the future of mechanics as a discipline.  As such, it is absolutely essential for our fellow mechanicians to spread the words to your friends, colleagues, collaborators, etc., of all the other disciplines. Your support in this regard is greatly appreciated.

Teng Li's picture

Many mechanicians, myself included, have been reaching out to other fields by publishing our results in journals that other communities call their own homes, or in those that we feel could be a better home for a particular piece of research. Take Nano Letters as an example. Though published by ACS, it has evolved into one of the home journals that first come in mind for researchers in various disciplines who would publish their high-quality nano-related research.  

Other communities have built up publishing venues of high quality and fast track that have attracted mechanicians to reach out to them, which in turn snowballs these venues and their communities to be even better. Mechanics community should do the same. Ideally in long run, EML should evolve into one of the home journals coming to mind for any researcher who would publish their exciting mechanics-related research.  And in turn, helping other communities to reach us via venues like EML would make long-lasting positive impact for shaping the future of mechanics discipline.

Rui Huang's picture

Launching a new journal is exciting. Extremely so for Extreme Mechanics! Whether we need it or not, a high-quality journal is always welcome. Also important is rapid communication, to compete in the modern field of fast publications of all disciplines. To achieve both however is a challenge. The editors will have to be devoted and diligent. The reviewers will have to cooperate too. We have all been reviewers. To complete a review in two weeks for rapid communication is often a demanding task. Without in-depth reviews, quality would be in jeopardy. Sounds like a dilemma, speed versus quality? Striking a delicate balance would be essential. After all, it is better to try than just talking. I wish EML a great success!

Zhigang Suo's picture

Only dilemma?  I recently learned a new word, trilemma.  Try to balance speed, quality and diversity.  Or depth, originality and immediacy.

Thank you Rui.  We will count on you as a prolific author, a fast reviewer, and a cover-to-cover reader of EML.  We trust you will find a way to deal with this trilemma.

Teng Li's picture

Dear Rui, I could't agree with you more on the attitude your comment concludes. For years, while pondering on such a dilemma (or trilemma), our community has been witnessing, discussing, and participating in one way or another the emerging, growing and thriving of many now high-quality letter-sized journals. Many mechanicians publish in and review for these journals, with both high quality and speed. The recent amazing decrease in the review cycle time of JAM is another clear evidence that mechanicians can act as fast as chemists or physicists. If we just keep talking and don't give a try, the dilemma or trilemma stays as is. The success of EML hinges not only upon its editorial team, also more crucially upon our fellow mechanicians. Let's just give a try.

L. Roy Xu's picture

Zhigang, Thanks for your great idea. As an experimentalist, I wish EML would be more close to “Experimental Mechanics Letters” ----publish balanced modeling and experimental papers. Now JAM, IJSS and JMPS publish many modeling and simulation papers. When I submitted my good experimental results on notch/interface fracture to a mechanics journal, a reviewer insisted that our pure experimental work was not enough and needed more modeling work for insight. However, my “good” experiments mean “highly repeatable experiments”, but I was not able to provide exact insight, and no one modeled a similar problem before. I think It’s better for me to provide NO explanation than misleading explanation in order to quickly publish our results. One day, a smart person (mechanician) will provide the right explanation. I wish EML would be really appreciated by many experimentalists. Roy

Konstantin Volokh's picture

Dear Roy,

You might be interested to know that my theoretical works often go through referees who request experiments. I am always curious to know the names of these giants who can do both good experiment and good theory. Let me guess that these giants do not exist. Probably, Fermi was the last one.

So, please, proceed submitting your experimental work to the journals on mechanics. We need it!



Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Roy, Thank you very much for your note.  As I noted before, the plan to start a letter-style journal in mechanics was put together by Jimmy, Teng and Sulin in 2009-2010.  Many mechanicians saw the need, but Jimmy, Teng and Sulin put a serious plan together and recruited others.  I hope that they will tell their story at some point. 

EML aims to publish mechanics done in all approaches, for all purposes, and by people in all disciplines.  

An individual paper, however, will focus on something specific.  What's new?  Who cares?  Once the paper states these two basic elements clearly, the rest of the paper supplies the work that supports the basic elements.  If experimental observation is new and interesting, then all you need to do is describing it clearly.  A theoretical analysis will be nice, but is unnecessary.  Of course, if you do find a theoretical understanding, the paper will be a stronger one.  But that may take time and delay the publication.  You just have to trust your instinct.   

For several decades, the coming of computers has affected all aspects of our lives.  Computational mechanics, as well as the related theoretical developments, has been the most visible accomplishment in mechanics.  This is only natural.  Computers are the biggest opportunity, and mechanicians are seizing the opportunity.

Having seized the opportunity, perhaps we should return to the lasting questions:  Are we discovering new phenomena? Are we discovering solutions to real problems?  Are we capturing other opportunities, such as a new instrument, a new disease, a new industry?  In answering these questions, one quickly finds that computation and theory, however sophisticated, are insufficient.  One needs experiments.  Even more important, one needs to identify significant, but solvable, problems.  Approaches do not matter.  Disciplines do not matter.  Especially when approaches and disciplines have become commodity items, shared by all and owned by none, as Xuanhe noted.  

Word processor might be nice, but it is a minor aspect if you want to write a great novel.  

That is how I feel about the matter.  Others may also wish to comment. I also agree with you and Kosta:  mechanics needs a lot more experiments.      

L. Roy Xu's picture

Dear Zhigang and Kosta:

Your comments might clarify some people’s doubt--- what’s the difference between EML and other mechanics journals?  My understanding is a short EML paper focuses on modeling or experiments. Therefore, authors would have less chance to get a demanding reviewer who requires the authors to do both.  Authors could publish their results quickly rather than completing both modeling and experiment parts.  Indeed, in my previous paper submissions, I always had a concern--whether the editor or reviewer thought my experiments lacked mechanics insight or not, so I had to add some modeling work.    Now I believe EML would become an extremely diverse journal!  ----Roy's picture

Dear zhigang and all: Congratulations on the launching of the new journal! Extremly exciting news for the mechanicians who are working in interdisciplinary fileds. We hope this journal will show what and how mechanics matters in an "extreme" way to all researchers, physicists, chemists, biologists, or material scientists. Wish the journal a great success!

vicky.nguyen's picture

Congratulations to you Zhigang and all of the editors and associated editors of EML for this exciting development. Many of us have discussed the need for a journal that unites what has become an extremely diverse mechanics community.  And now you've made it happen! I share your enthusiam and hope to contribute some of our best works to EML. I also share Harold's and Rui's concerns about the need to balance speed, excitement, and rigor.  I hope that having a mechanics journal for mechanicians will encourage deeper and more rigorous presentation of the mechanics.  This is difficult in short letter communications, but I think it  is necessary to keep mechanics and not just applications of mechanics as the focus of attention.   

Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Vicky:  Thank you very much for your comment.  I have been thinking about the points that you have raised in connection with deeper and more rigorous mechanics.  There is a also an opportunity to capture fundamental discoveries in mechanics.  In a separate post, I have given several examples of fundamental discoveries in mechanics in recent decade or so.  These discoveries have already led to deep and rigorous mechanics.  They have made mechanics young.

John A. Rogers's picture

I really appreciate these thoughtful discussions on EML, and I'm excited to have an opportunity, along with others associated with the journal, to play a role in shaping its trajectory.  An important goal of EML, particularly from my own perspective, is to serve as an outlet for interdisciplinary, 'cutting-edge' research that has essential mechanics content at its core.  As Zhigang mentioned in his opening entry, many exciting technologies and fields of study -- from soft lithography, to flexible/stretchable electronics to mesoscale assembly to bio-inspired imaging devices to implantable energy harvesters -- exploit advanced principles in mechanics to drive progress.  Additionally, work in these areas often uncovers new fundamental concepts in mechanics.  Our hope is that EML will provide a high-profile destination for this type of research.

Although my own background is in materials science, in talks that I give on stretchable electronics to audiences of mechanical engineers, I sometimes end by stating that 'the future of electronics is mechanics'.  Zhigang once expanded this thought to -- 'the future of *everything* is mechanics'  This 'extreme' statement well encapsulates one of the visions/aspirations for EML...

jiangyuli's picture

Thanks Zhigang and Jimmy for spearheading this efforts. I am sure most of us had experience that exciting mechanics is not appreciated one way or the other by physics/materials/chemistry/biology journals, and I think EML is very timely. To be successful, it needs to be viewed as the journal to go for our best works, and it really needs the support of the community. I very much look forward to the first issue.  

K Jimmy Hsia's picture

Thanks, Jiangyu, for the encouraging words. Your support and contributions and, more importantly, ownership of EML will be highly appreciated.

Dear Zhigang, Jimmy and others on the editorial board,

Many thanks for taking the initiative to start a letter-style journal like this. Reviewing speed is a key factor nowadays for us to decide where we want our paper to be submitted. In the past, the mechancis community falled very behind in its journal publications. Thanks Yonggang for making changes in JAM and I am sure the new EML will put pressure on other mechanics journals. I hope these efforts can attract our mechanicians back to support our own journals. 

I wish the best and the very success of this young journal.


K Jimmy Hsia's picture

Thanks, Jerry. Yonggang's effort to reform JAM is incredible. EML has a lot to learn from Yonggang (in fact he is serving on our advisory board). EML's goal is to serve a complementary role to many very successful mechanics journals. As posted earlier by Sulin and Zhigang, we hope EML will not just be for the mechanics community, but also for other researchers who are doing mechanics related research. I can envision that we could be competing for interesting papers with some of the physics and chemistry journals. Healthy competition is always a good thing for the field, and the researchers.

Amit Acharya's picture

I hope the ‘E’ for this journal also has some connotation of ‘Enduring’ in terms of the mechanics it publishes and in terms of the ideas, opinions, and philosophy it helps cultivate in the minds of its contributors and readers, especially the younger lot.


Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Amit:  Thank you so much for your thoughts.  In the time of commotion, we may lose sight of what we want to achieve ultimately.  We aim to build a home for a vibrant community.  

Who are "we"?  All people who try to shape EML through developing its process, submitting papers, reviewing papers, commenting on papers, and citing papers.  The publisher provides a platform, the editorial team coordinates traffic, and authors and reviewers work together to build.  EML has the potential to be a home the way we want it.

What does EML want to achieve ultimately?  Please describe, everyone!  "This is your land, this is my land.  From California to New York island..." 

Warm regards as always, Zhigang    

K Jimmy Hsia's picture


What an interesting comment! "Enduring" indeed is a challenge all journal editors and publishers are facing. For anything to "endure", change must a constant factor. That's why evolution is such a powerful force in nature.

There are of course other "E" words that would be relevant to EML. "Evolving" (obviously), "Empowering", and who knows, perhaps even "Entertaining". It's up to the authors to define which "E" words best describe EML.

Cai Shengqiang's picture

Sincere congratulations to all the editors of EML! I would like to resonate with Xuanhe. A letter styled journal is urgently needed for mechanics community, considering the continously emerged fascinating mechanics phenomena and rapid development of mechanics theory and modelling. I will be a faithful reader of the journal and contribute best of our work to it. 

I have also introduced this new journal to some of my collegues at UCSD. They all like the "extreme" ideas and the scope of EML. 

K Jimmy Hsia's picture

Wonderful! Thank you very much for promoting EML among your colleagues, Shengqiang. We look forward to your contributions in multiple ways.

Laney Zhou's picture

Before I met Zhigang in Harvard last summer I had worked on Elsevier's mechanics journals for 18 months and my humble knowledge of the field back then was that the existing mechanics journals met all the publishing and reading needs of mechanicians and mechanics papers ought to be long, extensive and focused. I remember it was a beautiful sunny day in Cambridge and still greatly appreciate the 60 minutes of educational course in Zhigang's office during which he showed me how mechanics plays an important role in all different disciplines and be exciting. Of course we talked about the journal idea Jimmy was leading to pursue together with Zhigang, John and other folks. Since then it has been a great experience working with the editorial team and everyday I'm more excited about EML than the day before. There has been a lot of discussion on the title of the journal and if it doesn's sound as straightforward as it could be, I'm happy to take all the blames:-) But I think it's a title that reflects the recent development in mechanics, rapid change in research habits of mechanicians and the way how publishing could support or facilitate communication of research outcomes in the field as quickly and widely as possible. It also reflects our enthusiasm as editors and publisher to make this a great journal, and I'm impressed by your extremely warm welcome to the journal. I look forward to a great journey together to make EML THE home of your most exciting and cutting-edge research! 

Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Laney:  Thank you so much for taking us through the internal process in Elsevier, and getting us this far.  

Julia Greer and I are here at a symposium in honor of Alan Needleman on the occasion of his 70th birthday.  Julia introduced EML to the audience.  Now people want to know what extreme mechanics is.  We ask people to put aside the name of the journal for the time being, and focus on matters of substance:

  • Fast:  6-8 weeks from submission to publication
  • Focused:  Letter-style papers (4-5 pages), plus unlimited supplementary information
  • Diverse:  Mechanics done in all approaches, for all purposes, and by people in all disciplines.

Many people are enthusiastic.  Quite a few are committed to submitting papers for the beginning issues.

By chance several members of EML advisory board are here as well:

  • Huajian Gao
  • Ben Freund
  • Yonggang Huang
  • John Hutchinson
  • Subra Suresh
  • Viggo Tvergaard
K Jimmy Hsia's picture

Dear Laney,

I want to second Zhigang's comment by thanking you for guiding us through the process of establishing EML and for being our strong and tireless champion at Elsevier. You probably noticed that several comments by mechanics researchers raised the question of the meaning of "extreme", which then led to thoughtful debates and reasoning. In the past year or so, I have had the opportunity to interact with several researchers/administrators in Israel. One unique feature of Jewish culture is that it encourages people, even at a young age, to debate and argue with each other. Through such debates, issues become clearer, messages become sharper, our understanding becomes deeper. Although the name "Extreme Mechanics Letters" was decided collectively, you deserve most credit for being a steadfast supporter for it. We all are now extremely glad you stood your ground. What better way to start a new journal than to provoke people to think and debate when they simply see the journal title!

katia bertoldi's picture

According to the Author Information Pack currently available on the EML website only manuscripts processed with Word can be submitted. If you are a big fan of LateX, don't worry.  LateX is certainly fine and the information on the website will be updated very soon to reflect this.

azadpoor's picture

When I was going through the list of persons listed as editorial board members, I realized 25 out of 36 members are affiliated with US institutes. I am wondering whether it is fair to say that the board composition is too much US-centric or is this composition simply the reflection of where good applied mechanics work is currently being done? One may say that continental Europe is particularly underrepresented. Does it mean that not much important mechanics work is being done in continental Europe? Or there is some other reason?

K Jimmy Hsia's picture

Good observation. Is this an "old world" vs "new world" question? Reminds me of a friendly debate my brother and I had about who was mom's favorite child 1.5 years ago (at her memorial service).

EML has several organizations: a team of editors/associate editors, an Advisory Board, and an Editorial Board. On the EB, out of 18 people who accepted our invitations to join the Board, 1 from New Zealand, 1 from Singapore, 2 from China, 5 from continental Europe. The rest are from US. The website will continue to be updated as acceptance emails come in.

Selection of Advisory and Editorial Boards is never a "fair" process, nor is EB a body for geographic representation. All boards reflect the limitations of those who choose their members. Our goal is to provide the research community with a great service. If you have ideas how to make the EML Boards work more effectively, please don't hesitate to let us know. We are all ears :). Thanks.

azadpoor's picture

Thanks for the reply. My comment was more like a question out of curiosity than a complaint. Actually, I appreciate the way you three have been discussing the structure of the journal with other members of the community. This type of discussions normally do not happen in public. So this is a unique opportunity to get insight into how this type of processes work and how certain decisions are made. It has always been my impression that the EB of journals are too much dependent on the network of the chief editors. For example, European editors pick too many Europeans for the EB whereas US-UK-Canada-Ausitralian scientists mostly work with each other. Now that we have iMechanica as a community, you may want to exploit the potential of the community to have a better balance in the composition of the EB. I personally think geographical distribution is not a good way of selecting the editors. In my opinion, the EB of every journal should include people who are doing the best research in the area covered by the journal AND who are willing to spend enough time on their editorial duties. Now if continental Europe is not doing good research in the area of research covered by EML, then it should of course not be presented in the EB.

Do you guys think you could have an open nomination page in iMechanica so that people could nominate the best researchers in the field for membership in EB? The other thing is how to rotate the EB members. Are the EB members going to be perpetual members or is there going to be some sort of rotation? It would be great if you could provide open information to he community regarding the term of appointment of the editors.

All I am saying is that you could use the potential of iMechanica to establish an organic relationship between the community and the journal such that the EB is somehow coming out of the community and is organically connected to the community.

Another questions that I have is regarding the handling of papers by the EB. As a firm supporter of OA, I have been handling papers for several OA journals including PLOS ONE and PeerJ. In these journals, the EB members who handle papers have complete autonomy. This could potentially lead to very effective and fast review process, because every Editor is handling a limited number of papers and could make sure that the review process is concluded as fast as possible. In certain cases, the editor could serve as the reviewer too, because the topic of the paper might be really close to their area of expertise. The paper is then published together with name of the EB member who has handled the review process. Given relatively wide scope of the journal and its expected high impact, you might find that many manuscripts are submitted to the journal. That might cause delays in terms of the decisions, if everything has to go through the chief editors. So you may want to consider using the same type of model used by OA journals.

Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Amir:  Thank you so much for your comments.  This is an interesting time to start a new journal.  EML will initially focus on a well-recognized goal:  creating a letter-style journal at the interface between mechanics and everything else.  The composition and the workflow of the editorial team will evolve.  Your comments do raise important points.  Please keep them coming as EML evolves.

You also made excellent points about review processes.  Teng Li, an Associate Editor of EML, has just started a new thread of discussion on the EML review process.  It will be great if you can join that discussion.

azadpoor's picture

Thanks for the pointer. I wrote a few points in the thread you suggested. Just like you, I am excited about the opportunities that this new journal presents and hope to be able to contribute by doing a bit of brainstorming.


Pradeep Sharma's picture


I have a comment on the constitution of the editorial team/board of EML. The current team is impressive. However, I believe that there is one area of mechanics that is underrepresented in the editorial team---"rational" mechanics. I use the term "rational" somewhat apprehensively since it has different connotations for different people. What I mean by that is the more applied mathematics oriented branch of mechanics. For example, Professor Gurtin and the like would fit this category---in the old days, we would be talking about Truesdell and Toupin. Among the younger folks, people like Arash Yavari, Liping Liu etc. perhaps fall in this category. While traditionally this style of mechanics is usually characterized by rigorous and somewhat longish works, reaching out to this community by diversifying the editorial board may attract them to EML. In particular, given the "extreme" nature of the journal, I note that extensive work on nonlinear mechanics is (and has been) often undertaken by this community. The presently (more fashionable) moniker of “soft matter” has drawn quite a bit from such developments in the sixties-eighties time-period.


Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Pradeep:  Thank you so much for posting your thoughts on EML.  As you may have noticed, we are using the method that you developed years ago in launching iMechanica Journal Club.  We now use iMechanica to collect ideas to build a good journal.  

Rational mechanics (i.e., nonlinear continuum mechanics) has been a core subject in mechanics.  As you noted, in recent years, the subject has been exceptionally active in applications such as soft matter.  Another recent area of applications is lithium-ion batteries.  Other related areas include “multi-physics” and strain-gradient plasticity.  Given these recent activities, the subject of nonlinear continuum mechanics will likely do extremely well with EML.  

Amir has a related comment regarding the composition of the editorial team.  Here are responses by Jimmy and by Laney. Let us work together to develop EML.


azadpoor's picture

It appears to me that the composition of the EB as well as the choice of papers is somewhat dependent on the position EML envisions for itslef in terms of impact. Aiming for high impact will inevitably require certain (somewhat not enitrely pleasant) choices in terms of the areas of research that need to be more storngly represented in the EB as well as in the composition of the published papers. In that contenxt, it might be appropriate to ask this question: what position in terms of impact is the EB envisioning for the EML? Where do you envision the journal to stand in the spectrum from IJSS and JMPS to APL and PRL to Adv Mater and alike? This could help the authors to calibrate more quickly to the vision of the journal and might ultimately save everybody's time. I remember when Nature Communications was laucnhed, the editors indicated that they are aimng for papers that would normally be published in journals like PNAS. The recent launch of Science Advances seems to be going to the same direction. Where does the EML plan to stand?

Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Amir:  Excellent question.  I have tried to use the question to motivate a new post, What do we want EML to be?  How do we get there?  

Hanqing Jiang's picture

Dear Pradeep: Thanks for the great point you raised for EML. Nowadays, rational mechanics have found new applications, including soft active materials as you pointed out and multiphysics of lithium-ion batteries that has been actively pursued by the mechanics community. Another application recently emerges, which is thin membrane origami as mechanical metamaterials. Nonlinear instability and bifurcation are common themes in thin membrane origami. These topics are among the list of topics of interests to EML.  

Arash_Yavari's picture

Dear Zhigang and other friends:

First, let me congratulate you for this very good idea and your efforts in promoting mechanics. It would be good for the mechanics community to have a high quality letter journal. Like a few other people here, I have some comments/concerns that thought I should share with you.

1) Personally, I would prefer a different title for this journal. “Extreme” sounds like a buzzword to me. Also, I find “Extremely Interesting” strange. Who decides if a paper is “extremely interesting” or “extremely new”. I think the community should make such decisions and that would take time. I understand that this is perhaps just for advertisement purposes and I trust that the editors will consider submissions with an open mind. And of course, you want to make sure this won’t be just another new journal. For that you need the support of the whole community (please see comments 3 and 4).

2) I completely agree with Zhigang that mechanicians have much to offer. It would be great to have a good letter journal that publishes short communications at the highest level. However, the goal here should not be to isolate ourselves. Mechanics people have been publishing in the best applied and theoretical physics journals and that should be encouraged and continued even if we have a top letter journal.

3) I believe any successful journal belongs to the whole community and not any particular group of people. Mechanics has different aspects and such a journal should cover all aspects of mechanics (experimental, theoretical, numerical) and should get help from people in different schools of mechanics. I agree with Pradeep that “rational mechanics” has been overlooked in the editorial board. You can ask the community to support this journal but you should be realistic here. If there is no single representative from the nonlinear elasticity (mechanics) community in the editorial board it gives the (wrong) impression that contributions from that community are not welcome. Or if they are welcome you need people who have the expertise to handle those papers. I think here the emphasis should not be on what is more “important” or more “interesting”. The new applications of nonlinear elasticity are fascinating and very important. As a matter of fact, nonlinear elasticity historically was developed because of applications in rubber elasticity (e.g. Rivlin’s seminal contributions). Nonlinear elasticity (and in general nonlinear continuum mechanics) will continue to be an important aspect of mechanics and should be given the appropriate attention.

4) I think the lack of diversity in the editorial board is not just restricted to “rational” or theoretical mechanics. Another very important field is computational mechanics, which is underrepresented as well (I’m not talking about simply using MD packages or similar things). There have been fascinating developments in computational mechanics and this field will continue to be extremely important. If there is a new numerical method, instead of trying to read a forty-page paper in, for example, IJNME, one may like to read a three-page paper on why this new numerical method is exciting, etc. and how it can be used in the new applications. I again agree with Pradeep that a more diverse group of people in the editorial board will have a better chance to help accomplish the goals of this new and exciting journal.


Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Arash:  Thank you so much for the comments.  I am tied up with meetings yesterday and today, and will respond to your point 1 for the time being.

Let’s put aside the name of the journal for now, and focus on matters of substance.   Here are the essential ideas of the new journal:

  1. Focus on letter-style papers

  2. Publish papers within 6-8 weeks upon submission

  3. Focus on mechanics at the forefront of applied sciences

By focusing on mechanics at the forefront of applied sciences, we mean bidirectional interaction between mechanics and everything else.  We aim to attract authors and readers in all disciplines.  We aim to enable that mechanics developed in one discipline rapidly diffuses into other disciplines.

Extreme Mechanics Letters is just a name for the new journal.  You may interpret the word “extreme” within the context of materials with extreme properties, or as a synonym  for “forefront”.  

Very soon we will all just call the journal EML.  Following Amit and Jimmy, we hope that the letter E will connote “Enduring”, “Elegant”, and “Enlightening”.  Not “Empty”.

Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Arash:  I am now trying to respond to your point 2.

In recent decades, many mechanicians have been publishing increasing portion of their work in non-mechanics journals.  This morning I looked at my own list of publications.  Of the recent 100 papers, only 15 were published in mechanics journals.  Nearly all these 100 papers involved graduate students, who will likely to continue to publish much of their own work in non-mechanics journals.  Whether this trend represents brain drain or discipline crossing deserves a separate discussion.  But one thing is nearly certain:  EML will not halt this trend.  Even when EML becomes wildly successful, mechanicians will still publish in journals of physics, chemistry, medicine, and materials science.  

Then why EML?  Although I have published about 30 papers in APL, somehow I cannot identify APL as a home.  I feel I am a guest in a hotel (a nice one indeed).  I pay the bill, I behave, and I get to stay.  I have no sense of ownership, and I don’t feel that I belong to any APL community.  Does such a community even exist?  

EML aims to be a home for people who regard creative work in mechanics central to their activities.  Mechanics is a well-established discipline, and have a long list of good journals, as noted by Harold.  However, as you have just pointed out, and also as I mentioned in a separate post, many of us have long felt a need to create a letter-style journal in mechanics.  

EML will focus on forefront of everything, where advances are rapid and mechanics matters.  This is a huge space, involving a large number of people in many disciplines, as well as in mechanics.  This point has been also made by my co-editors-in-chief, Jimmy Hsia and John Rogers.   

EML will be a community-building project.  In building a new home, we build a community.  Through writing papers, reviewing papers, reading papers, and citing papers, we will talk about how old mechanics gets used in creating new technology, how esoteric mechanics finds tangible applications, what kind of new mechanics is needed, and who should be getting together to make unusual things happen.  In this uncertain, brave, new world, mechanics becomes young again.  

Who knows?  Our home may also serve as a nice hotel for others.  We will have brilliant guests coming from other disciplines, as envisioned by Sulin.  They bring new experience and add to our conversations.  

Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Pradeep, Arash, and Liping:  Thank you very much for raising the question of how rational mechanics will figure in EML.  As Pradeep noted, the community of rational mechanics (~ more applied mathematics oriented branch of mechanics) is actively engaged in extensive work on nonlinear mechanics, partly motivated by recent interest in soft materials. I believe the community of rational mechanics and applied mathematics will do extremely well with EML.  

Indeed, the title of of the Journal, Extreme Mechanics Letters, originated from a series of symposia, called Extreme Mechanics, organized by Katia Bertoldi, Pedro Reis, and their colleagues.   Within that group, Extreme Mechanics stands for “Elasticity and Deformation”, as Katia noted.  Here is a news article in Nature that describing this vibrant community.  Both Katia and Pedro serve on the EML editorial team, so does Basile Audoly, the co-author of a recent textbook, Elasticity and Geometry.  I hope I have addressed Arash’s Comment 3.

Of course, EML will go beyond this focus on nonlinear elasticity, and will cover all branches of mechanics.  EML aims to cover mechanics done in all approaches, for all purposes, and by people in all disciplines.

I strongly resonate with Liping’s comment that “an open mind to interdisciplinary works or works of different mindset will benefit the community of mechanician and the rest”.  I’d like to amplify his point with an example.

One of Toupin’s most creative papers, The Elastic Dielectric, was published in 1956.  Perhaps the most direct and significant application of Toupin’s paper is dielectric elastomer transducers (R. Pelrine, R. Kornbluh, Q. Pei, J. Joseph.  High-speed electrically actuated elastomers with strain greater than 100%.  Science 287, 836-839, 2000).  There is no evidence, however, that the authors of the 2000 paper benefited from Toupin’s paper.  

What can we make of this set of facts?

Toupin’s paper is extremely difficult to read.  Perhaps he should be given allowance for writing the first definitive paper on the subject.  But what could be the excuse for all the subsequent papers and textbooks?  These papers are clearly not intended for control engineers and chemists, the authors of the 2000 paper.  These papers are intended for fellow rational mechanicians.  In doing my own theoretical work on the subject, I have benefited more from the 2000 paper than from the 1956 paper, even though I have been trying to read the 1956 paper since 1990.

Are Toupin’s paper and all the follow-up papers worthwhile?  I say yes.  People do have very different mindsets, and are open to channels of different kinds.  Some people have learned from Toupin’s paper, and they have taught me!  By now, the Rational Mechanics of 1956 has met the Serendipitous Discovery of 2000, not through the authors of the two papers, but through other people.  The approach of rational mechanics, once the language barrier is removed, does provide a secure foundation for developing material models and computational methods.

But 2000 - 1956 = 44!  

What if Toupin had persuaded an electrical engineer to give his idea a try experimentally?  What happened to all the people who followed Toupin in these 44 years?  Why didn’t I give a try between 1990 and 2000?  I could have ignored Toupin’s math and focused on his physical message:  electric field may generate large deformation in a dielectric.

May EML provide a playground where Rational Mechanics meets Serendipitous Discovery, early, easily, and routinely.

Amit Acharya's picture

"Physics is like sex. Sure it gives some practical results, but that is not why we do it."

               Richard P. Feynman

Amit Acharya's picture

Dear Zhigang - On thinking about it, my comment above may seem a little abrupt. The point you make is well taken, especially in the context of what you would like your new journal to be. I was just reminded of the Feynman quote above in response to what could be construed as your mild criticism of Toupin's attitude and style about his paper.....

Pradeep Sharma's picture

Zhigang, as I usually do, I enjoyed reading your post. I just want to say a few words about my personal view point regarding "rational" mechanics. I put the word in quotes since, to repeat my earlier comment, this word has different connotations for different people. I am not really part of this "brand" of mechanics but over the years I have come to appreciate what it has to offer

Early in my career, I used to be dissmissive of rational mechanics. The papers were hard to read and I did not understand their utility or have the patience for the unflinching rigor. I leaned towards more physical ideas and the end justified the means. While my emphasis on physical interpretation has not changed, my experience with one of  your favorite subjects, elastic dielectrics, and interaction with a couple of mathematically oriented colleagues changed my viewpoint. Several years ago, I tried to understand electrostatics of deformable media. I read many papers from different communities---mechanics, physics, materials and so forth. Perhaps, it was an indicator of my own foundational weaknesses, but in the end, I was left hopelessly confused. On occasion I could not transfer an understanding I had developed by reading one particular paper to another one written in a different style. I began to notice "lack of rigor" because they contriubted to my confusion: what are the precise boundary conditions? is the integration domain over R^3 or just the deformable body, is the functional a "free energy" or just an arbitrary functional that yields the right equations?--the list went on. Only after begining to see the subject matter through the prism of several rational mechanics papers did I finally understand the subject (or so I hope)---Liping Liu's summary paper of this topic was instrumental, as were many others that he recommended I read.

This experience and a fruitful collaboration with a couple of rational mechanics people, changed my outlook towards rational mechanics. Although I myself am not inclined to write papers in this genre, I now keep an eye out on this literature. To this day, on the topic of surface enegy, despite numerous papers that have now appeared, whenever I have a doubt, I return to the 1975 work of Gurtin-Murdoch and then later by Steigmann-Ogden. Almost always, their ironclad statements of the pertinent mechanics leaves little room for doubt.

Having said all this, I do believe that readability and rigor are not mutually exclusive. It is true that they often appear to be. I wish some of the old classics were more readable. I note that some recent rational mechanics authors make an attempt to do both---which I very much appreciate. Perhaps EML, if it catches the eye of the rational mechanics community, will provide a forum for papers that present rigorous new mechanics but are yet readable and accessible to a broad audience.



liuliping's picture

Per Pradeep and Arash's comments, I believe an open mind to interdisciplinary works or works of different mindset will benefit the community of mechanician and the rest. To what extent EML can be open-minded may come down to Zhigang's comments on "what is new" and "who care". Answers to these questions can be very subjective and even personal......

Many of you may have read Truesdell's personal account (see [1]) on his tortuous route to publishing the seminal work “The mechanical foundations of elasticity and fluid mechanics”  that has now permeated into every textbook on continuum mechanics. There may be some lesson we can learn from this case.

Mathematicians typically don't like the idea of short papers since calculations are too short to be easily reproduced. On the other hand, everyone will appreciate a fast and short publications of his/her works that announce the key results. A permanent open-access link to the "supplementary materials" that contains detailed calculations may be necessary, if not required, for works with not-so-obvious calculations. This is also convenient for reviewers and readers.

[1] C. Truesdell, Continuum Mechanics I, The Mechanical Foundations of Elasticity and Fluid Mechanics. Gordon & Breach, NewYork, 1966

I would also like to take the chance to advertise the following book on thermal dynamics which has always been a very confusing subject to me.

Entropy and PDE by L.C. Evans  

Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Liping, Thank you very much.  Your comments reminded me of my own experience with Truesdell and rational mechanics.

I met Truesdell in 1985, when I was a first-year master student in Applied Mechanics, in Xian Jiaotong University.  Truesdell came to China to give a lecture at the International Conference on Non-linear Mechanics, in Shanghai, 28-31 October 1985.  It was common in those years that Chinese hosts would arrange their foreign visitors to tour major cities in China, giving lectures at universities and visiting historical sites.  Xian had been the capital of many dynasties.  The Terracotta Army was discovered in 1974.  The city was a popular destination for foreign visitors.

Truesdell came to the University and gave a lecture.  The Chair of the Department of Applied Mechanics, Professor Xing Ji, asked me to be the tour guide for Truesdell and his wife.  I recall accompanying them to the Great Mosque of Xian.  He and his wife took many photos of structural details.  I wish I had a photo with them.  The great man was kind.  I mispronounced the adjective “learned” in the phrase “learned scholar”.  I pronounced the word as the verb in the sentence “someone has learned a lesson”.  He explained to me the difference between the two usages of the word.

Before meeting him, I had already tried to read his books.  I recall trying to read a slim volume, Six Lectures on Modern Natural Philosophy.  I could not understand much, but was deeply affected by his language.  When I came to Harvard, in 1986, as a graduate student, Truesdell was not taught in classes.  But over the years something has kept drawing me to his books.  I have given up on that slim volume.  Perhaps it is too short for the subject.  

It was much later I started to read his book with Noll, The Nonlinear Field Theories of Mechanics.  For me, this book is one of the finest on all scholarly subjects.   From time to time, I return to it for illumination and comfort.

azadpoor's picture

During the last few days, I have been thinking quite a bit about the EML and where it might be heading. I guess some people might hope that EML turns out to be the PRL of the mechanics community: a high-impact journal that actually gives priority to mechanics papers (rather than physics or chemistry papers as is the case in PRL and similar journals). This is a very good thing for the community. However, it also requires certain choices. Several people (myself included) have been commenting on the composition of the EB. Arash and Pradeep have indicated that certain areas of mechanics such as rational mechanics or computational mechanics are not strongly represented in the EB. One might be able to say similar things about certain areas of traditional biomechanics. Now the question is whether or not it is ok to have no strong representation of these areas. I think it all boils down to journal's impact vs its breadth (or inclusivity, if you like). If we want a high impact journal like PRL, it is inevitable that certain areas of mechanics should not be strongly represented in the EB. For example, we know that biomechanics journals do not fly high in terms of IF. Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology (BMM), which is the highest impact journal in traditional biomechanics, has been receiving IF between 3 and 4 over the last few years. Most other journals are not reaching 3. The same goes for journals that predominantly publish computational mechanics or rational mechanics papers. A high impact journal (something like IF>6) requires difficult choices in terms of the areas that need to be strongly represented in the EB and in the accepted papers.

Now I am not suggesting the EML should try to become a high impact journal. What I am trying to say that if it is what it is meant to be, it has to focus on certain areas of mechanics that are currently receiving more attention. Some people would call those areas the frontiers of applied mechanics. I would rather call them "high impact" or "active" areas, because these terms sound to me more like actual adjectives as compared to 'pioneering', 'frontiers' or similar adjectives that seem slightly more judgmental about the scientific value of the different areas of mechanics research.

I think it is important to note that journals like JMPS, IJNME, and BMM, that cover the traditional areas of applied mechanics, are extremely respectable journals that publish extremely valuable papers. So I personally would not mind if EML ends up covering all areas of mechanics regardless of their impact, as long as the quality of research is as high as what is normally published in JMPS, IJNME, or BMM. That being said, a letter-like journal is a medium that traditionally has been chosen for its potential to reach high impact. Additionally, the letter-format of the journal may not be suitable for papers that are published in JMPS, IJNME, or BMM. So, after all, it might be natural that EML focuses on the 'high impact' areas of mechanics research.

No matter which path the journal is destined to take, I would like to encourage the journal's masthead to openly discuss their vision for the journal. I understand that these topics are rather sensitive and most people would rather not openly discuss them. But it would be great if we could openly discuss these topics and reach a good collective understanding. As some of you might know, a sizable part of my research is in traditional biomechanics. I would have therefore loved, if there were a few people from that line of research on the EB. At the same, I would completely understand and greatly appreciate the openness of the EML's masthead, if they said that strong representation of traditional biomechanics is not very likely to help EML become a high impact journal.

Xuanhe Zhao's picture

Dear Amir,

I think the “high impact” paper, area or journal you referred to actually meant “high impact factor” ones. In my opinion, the true impact of a work hinges on its influences on people in a field and, probably more importantly, on people in other fields and on the whole society. Such impacts usually take significant periods of time to be appreciated or judged. For example, the average time between discoveries and recent Nobel Prizes is ~30y in Physics and ~20y in Chemistry and Physiology or Medicine.

Impact factor, on the other hand, is a measure reflecting the average number of citations to recent articles published in the journal. Although it is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field, impact factor indeed measures short-term “hotness” of papers and journals.

With that being said, are there direct correlations between high impacts and high impact factors of papers and journals? If so or not, shall EML target itself as a high-impact-factor journal? These are open questions for the editorial board and the whole community.

azadpoor's picture

Dear Xuanhe,

You are right!! The true impact of works cannot be easily measured, particualrly within short time after publication. In the meanwhile, journals and their mastheads have to use proxies like IF for planning purposes. Interestingly, some alternative impact measures seem to be very highly correlated with IF (

katia bertoldi's picture

Pradeep and Arash raised a very good point. If we want EML to be sweet home for mechanics, we need to make sure it will attract contributions from all areas. Will this happen? I hope so!
Right now we are often associating a letter-style paper with experimental work, but this has not to be the case. In fact, I believe also a new computation method or a mathematical development  cannot only  fit within a letter- style paper, but also take advantage of the format, which will highlight what is important and new and how the proposed method can be applied to solve  important propblems. When the reader is then excited about the method, he/she will go to the Supporting Information, where all details about the formulation are included.

Shailendra's picture

EML will be an exciting journal in the realm of mechanics, as is evident from the range of topics being discussed here. I did not read through all the comments and suggestions, so my apologies if the suggestion here duplicates some of those echoed above.

I feel that given the breadth of aspects that it can cover (as Katia noted), it might be useful to think if we could have each issue divided into several thematic sections. Occasionally, the EML editors and editorial board members could invite eminent researchers to serve as guest editors for these sections.

K Jimmy Hsia's picture

Special topic issues or sections within an issue possibly guest-edited by an expert -- great idea! Dividing every issues into topical sections may not be effective for the amount of work involved. EML, unlike journals like Science, is a reasonably focused journal. But a variety of formats, (primarily) letter-style papers, commentaries, review/position papers, special topical issues/sections, ..., would be great ways to communicate interesting research results among researchers.

Thanks for the suggestion.

This is a bit off topic but I didn't have the time to expand it into a blog post.

I found an interesting article in Social Studies of Science called "Academic urban legends" by Redkal 

One of the interesting bits of information that the author provides is "The myth from the 1930s that spinach is a rich source of iron was due to misleading information in the original publication: a malpositioned decimal point gave a 10-fold overestimate of iron content." and "The quote caught my attention for two reasons. First, it falsified an idea that I had carried with me since I was a child, that spinach is an excellent source of iron. The most striking thing, however, was that a single decimal point, misplaced 80 years ago, had affected not just myself and my now deceased parents, but also a large number of others in what we place on our table."

Does mechanics have any equivalent myths?  I'd like to see one of the experts on this forum expand this idea into a journal club article.

-- Biswajit

Luis Dorfmann's picture

I have been following the discussion about EML on imechanica with great interest and appreciate reading different opinions. My personal experience has been that mechanics is not appreciated as much as it should by university administrators. One reason may be that our community is rather small and we don’t do enough PR to raise the interest of the broader community. I believe that this journal may serve as a vehicle to better and wider publicize our work. Therefore, the interdisciplinary aspect may be very important.  The second point I like to make, and I second some of the earlier comments, is for the journal to be inclusive of all fields. This is best seen by the EB that should be representative of the wider community.

mohamedlamine's picture

Hi all,
EML appear as an interesting journal with various and possibly connected research fields. I wish to you success.

Mohammed Lamine

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