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Applicable limit of the stress intensity factor for steep yield strength distribution

W. Brocks's picture

The number of bad papers is multiplying. … a new, dramatic problem arises: how to select in the mud the papers conveying innovative ideas?” wrote Piero Villaggio in his Editorial “Crisis of mechanics literature?”, Meccanica, Vol. 48, pp. 765–767. He identified, among others, two factors, “the necessity of multiplying published papers in a large international competition” and “the abuse of self-quotations in order to remedy the perverse rule imposed by the impact-factor”. Disregarding “journals ready to publish everything“, the editors of top-ranking scientific journals have to face up to the question how to ensure a constantly high quality of the published manuscripts. A strict and carefully executed review process is a mandatory requirement. However, reading published articles, I sometimes wondered how a reviewer could let pass a manuscript like this?

One indispensable demand is a minimum standard of English expression. If the reader cannot discriminate what is inapt expression and what is lack of understanding of the problem, he or she will put the paper aside and stop reading. The author has scored on the publication list in any case, but the scientific benefit is null!

I shall outline some examples in the paper by

Tetsuo Yasuoka, Yoshihiro Mizutani, Akira Todoroki: Applicable limit of the stress intensity factor for steep yield strength distribution, Engineering Fracture Mechanics, Vol.110, 2013, pp. 1–11,

not to blame the authors but to ask the reviewer(s) of this manuscript whether they have actually understood cryptic sentences like “The crack was divided into discrete bar elements in this model. Each bar element involved the stress, yield strength and displacement. The remote tensile stress and the yield strength distribution were discretized using the principle of superposition”. What is “the SIF of the jth bar element subjected to the loading stress σj“?  What shall I imagine by “this rectangle means (!?) CTOD” in Fig. 4, if it is an area under a stress distribution curve in the ligament?

That the substance of a submitted manuscript is correct to the best knowledge of the reviewer should be a matter of course. This actually may be a time-consuming task to check including literature research. There are some simple sanity checks, however. One would be: How can there be normal stresses acting on the free surface of a crack in Fig. 2? Newman’s respective Fig. 2 (ASTM STP 748 [1981]) which the authors quote shows compressive stresses due to crack closure, but this is not examined in the present manuscript.

Did the reviewers of the above-mentioned manuscript ask the authors any of these questions - or did they just wave the paper through?

A final delicate question a reviewer might ask is how substantial and significant the presented results are: what did he or she really learn from this contribution? A considerable number of submitted papers could be rejected with this argument. Taking a look on the references in the present manuscript raises doubts. Despite an own publication of 2012, the rest is mostly from the 60s and 70s of the last century. What did the scientific community miss over the last 40 to 50 years not having read this manuscript?

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