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[ FUTURE OF PUBLISHING ] October 12, 2022

The power of early-stage research

The next generation of scientists faces the constant pressure to publish their work quickly, despite the long and overly-complicated processes involved. Is early-stage research the best way for ECRs to make an impact?

Where groundbreaking science begins

Every researcher has a moment of inspiration, a first spark of curiosity that drives their discoveries and powers their investigations. For Dr. Paavo Penttilä, an Academy of Finland Research Fellow, his spark of inspiration came from a need to “contribute his share to fighting global environmental challenges and to help the development of sustainable applications from renewable forest-based materials.”

Since completing his Phd, Dr. Penttilä has been using X-ray and neutron scattering methods to study the structure of wood and other plant-based materials. The ideas that led to his current research took shape in 2017, during his time as a postdoc researcher at the Institute Laue-Langevin in France. While completing his PhD, Dr. Penttilä realized that X-ray and neutron scattering can offer a lot of important information when it comes to the nanostructure of plant cell walls. His background and deep interest in biological materials made him feel that he could take on the challenge and contribute something to this field. The research fully took form once Dr. Penttilä began his postdoc position at Aalto University, Finland. Fortunately, he was able to carry out the main experiments for this paper just before the pandemic started in 2020. At the American Chemical Society’s Spring Meeting 2021, powered by Morressier, Dr. Penttilä presented his pre-published findings on the water accessibility of nanoscale pores in spruce cell walls.


Accelerating the research lifecycle

Amidst the ACS 2021 conference, Dr. Penttilä and his colleagues were already on the course of writing a scientific article based on the results of their research. Disseminating their pre-published findings to a global audience gave these young scientists the visibility that their earliest ideas deserved and the space to create a narrative out of their discoveries.

“Presenting the research results in the ACS conference helped me to combine them into a meaningful story and to get feedback from my peers,” Dr. Penttilä says. This study then led to the formation of new research questions and hypotheses on how water interacts with wood cell walls that Dr. Penttilä hopes to address with his newly established research team at Aalto University in the near future. 

Giving researchers opportunities to connect and build on their findings together helps their ideas reach new heights and attract diverse, global audiences. As he wrote and submitted his article and awaited peer review and journal acceptance, sharing his early-stage research offered Dr. Penttilä a way to position himself professionally, collaborate with others, and give his ideas recognition faster.


Sharing breakthroughs from beginning to end

Towards the end of 2021, after presenting at ACS, Dr. Penttilä’s work was published in Cellulose. Now, anyone can access the full scope of his research at their fingertips, from that first spark to the final published results. Offering young scientists like Dr. Penttilä opportunities to share their preliminary findings with the world helps to paint a fuller picture of the research lifecycle and support ECRs as they seek to advance their careers in science. It also allows ECRs to gain feedback and insights on their research, increasing the likelihood of their paper’s acceptance down the line. Finally, organizations can track the impact of the research shared at their conferences and identify trending and emerging topics to focus future publications on.



It’s the age of information. Technology and digital tools have made it possible to share content faster than ever before, and as a result, the world demands immediate access. Giving ECRs the chance to share scientific breakthroughs as they happen will allow them to shape the future of science and move the research community forward.


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