Author Interview – Martin Hediger


Dr. Martin Hediger has authored two articles at PeerJ. He is a computational enzyme engineer who completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Zürich (Switzerland) and his PhD at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark). In his work, he uses a wide array of modern computational chemistry methods in combination with rational design principles to describe and increase enzyme activity for specific biotechnological applications.You can follow Martin on his own blog, as well as on Jan Jensen’s blog (the senior author on both PeerJ articles).

PJ: Hi Martin, how would you describe your work to non-specialists?

We basically use computer simulations to increase the activity of enzymes for specific applications. Using these highly active enzymes allows producing drugs, biofuels, or fine chemicals more efficiently, and essentially it can contribute to lower production costs.

As an example, in my second PeerJ paper, we wanted to make the enzyme more active for a particular reaction, and we were able to do so after comparing almost 400 mutated versions of this enzyme using computational chemistry methods. The new enzyme can now be used as a biocatalyst in industrial and pharmaceutical applications.

PJ: How did you first hear about PeerJ?

In our group, we have been following the open access movement for a while now. PeerJ just popped up on the radar one day, soon after we had published for the first time in PLOS ONE.

PJ: What persuaded you to publish with us the first time?

Our positive experience with PLOS ONE encouraged us to continue publishing in open access journals. Also the fair pricing was attractive, and so we wanted to give it a shot.

PJ: What is the audience that you wish to reach publishing with us?

Of course it would be great if we could reach people from the field, especially from computational enzyme engineering. Being open access, our papers are as available as possible, and our visibility is not limited by the decision of a library to subscribe to PeerJ or not.

PJ: Your first PeerJ paper was the ‘Featured Article’ on the journal web page. How do you feel about that?

We were really happy about that, even more so considering the fact that our work was purely computational in nature, and PeerJ is somewhat more oriented towards biology. It is certainly a great satisfaction for the work, and hopefully, it made it a bit more attractive, maybe even also to people outside of the field.

PJ: Now that you have been through the PeerJ publication process twice, how would you describe your overall experience with us, in terms of quality and speed?

In comparison with other journals, I would say this is what a submission form should look like in the 21st Century: modern appearance, fast and responsive website. I guess as an author you only like to spend as little time as necessary with the technical details of submitting a paper that might have taken a year to prepare. Still, I find the instructions a bit lengthy, and the website might have a little bug here and there, but in any case, it is way ahead of any other submission platform I have seen so far.

PJ: Thank you! What do you think of the HTML view of your published article and the appearance of the PDF?

I think they both look great. I especially like the way PeerJ presents new articles on their home page. It really lets the science appear in a beautiful way. It would be cool however if one could chose to download a two-column PDF because I prefer that layout, but still, they look great like this as well.

PJ: PeerJ encourages Authors to make their review comments visible. Why did you choose to reproduce the complete peer-review history of your articles?

I think it can help to understand how the paper developed. Also, it adds to the transparency of the work. But I can understand if there are people who don’t like the idea of presenting the reviews they got. So it’s good that authors can decide if they want to make the reviews visible or not.

PJ: What are your thoughts about the value of Open Access publishing?

I don’t believe that open access will become the single model. Rather, open access and the classic model will co-exist. I guess I can form a better opinion on this once more papers from my field are published in open access journals.

PJ: What do you think about our “Pay once, Publish for life” Membership?

It’s definitely a good idea because with a membership there are no more financial issues regarding the publication, and hopefully Universities will be supporting authors in obtaining a membership.

PJ: Did you get any comments from your colleagues about your publications with PeerJ?

I have colleagues outside academia who were really happy to see research being made open access so they could also have a look at it.

PJ: And of course, would you submit again to us?

Definitely. The review process was very efficient, the technical support from the staff was extremely helpful, and the editorial system works great.

PJ: Glad to hear you had a great experience with us! Anything else you would like to talk about?

I’m really looking forward to finding more research from my field on PeerJ.

PJ: In conclusion, how would you describe PeerJ in three words?

Modern, fast, convenient.

PJ: Many thanks for your time!

It was a pleasure!

PeerJ is currently getting first decisions back to authors with a median time of 24 days, and we have hundreds of highly satisfied authors. If you would like to experience the PeerJ process for yourself, then submit your next article to us!

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