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Readers of SIAM Review React to SIGEST Section

SIAM surveyed readers of SIAM Review (SIREV) this January to gauge interest in and reactions to the SIGEST section, which highlights a recent paper (within the last four years) from one of SIAM’s many specialized research journals. Survey results indicate that nearly two-thirds of respondents are in clear favor of the journal continuing to publish SIGEST papers.

SIGEST has been a fixture of SIREV for the past 20 years. The first-ever SIGEST selection—“Periodic Folding of Thin Sheets,” by L. Mahadevan and Joseph B. Keller—appeared in a 1999 issue of SIREV. Every subsequent issue of the quarterly publication has included a SIGEST paper. Selection of this article is notable, and authors are asked to revise their initial publication to appeal to a broader audience. Even before revision, the chosen papers are of interest to the entire SIAM community.

Nearly 1,000 SIREV readers replied to the survey and addressed the following points on a scale of “1” (strongly disagree) to “5” (strongly agree).

  • I am aware of the SIGEST section of SIAM Review (weighted average of 3.44)
  • I read the SIGEST section as frequently as I read other sections of SIAM Review (weighted average of 3.04)
  • I have the impression that a typical SIGEST article reflects the aims and scope of the underlying SIAM journal (weighted average of 3.54)
  • A typical SIGEST article is a good example of a high-quality, broad-appeal article from the underlying SIAM journal (weighted average of 3.69)
  • SIAM provides a useful service by highlighting excellence through the mechanism of publishing SIGEST articles (weighted average of 3.81)
  • SIAM Review should continue to publish a SIGEST article in each issue (weighted average of 3.88).

The breakdown of replies to the final question is as follows: 36.7 percent of respondents selected “5” (strongly agree), 29.1 percent selected “4,” 23.6 percent selected “3,” 6.5 percent selected “2,” and 4.1 percent selected “1” (strongly disagree).

136 participants also offered a wide range of further comments. Some recommended increasing the number of SIGEST articles in each volume, while others suggested discontinuing SIGEST altogether. One respondent proposed highlighting “articles from different journals that address a theme or ‘hot topic’ in applied math to provide perspectives on that theme from different communities within SIAM.”

SIREV editor-in-chief Des Higham (University of Edinburgh) reported to the SIREV Editorial Board that broad mandate exists for maintaining the status quo. He noted that a consistent theme in participants’ comments was a desire for more widely-accessible SIGEST articles. Moving forward, Higham and the SIREV section editors will pay even closer attention to the selection of papers with broad appeal. Higham will also ensure that SIGEST authors—in making their revisions—maximize the opportunity to engage SIREV’s diverse readership of over 10,000 applied and industrial mathematicians. 

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