Despite winning the Reviewer of the Year Award, Professor Carl Mungan, of the US Naval Academy, USA, considers himself to be an ordinary faculty member doing his job. He reviews for EJP as a service to the greater community of physics educators and to improve the final articles published by the journal.
Professor Mungan stands out, however, because he is not afraid to be honest in his approach to manuscripts. His advice to first-time reviewers is to make bold suggestions, to be specific and to provide examples of how the research could be presented, rather than simply pointing out errors, inaccuracies or ambiguous wording. He believes reviewers should do their best to quickly reply to authors, who are eagerly awaiting a response.
When reviewing, Professor Mungan looks for papers that have a cogent storyline, would be of reasonable, general interest to physics educators, and are technically correct. An article that particularly fascinated him was: ‘The young centre of the Earth’ (Uggerhøj et al 2016 Eur. J. Phys. 37 035602), having been struck by the idea that the centre of the earth is a few years younger than the surface of the earth due to gravitational time dilation.
Professor Mungan is gratified when he is able to make suggestions to an article that has good ideas but is poorly written. One suggestion he would have for EJP’s peer review process would be to champion concise manuscripts, so that novel or interesting content doesn’t become lost in lengthy papers.