There has always been something ambivalent to me in Thomas Friedman’s famed dictum “The Earth is flat.” Earlier this year I had the opportunity to visit the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India, an outstanding academic institution celebrating its 100 year anniversary. There, I was quickly reminded that it was indeed Bangalore that inspired the famed dictum and subsequent book, during Friedman’s earlier visit to that city, India’s high technology area.

Earth’s claimed flatness is of course not related to the empirical observations of Aristotle and Strabo, but to Friedman’s empirical observations of globalization. According to Wikipedia, “globalization in its literal sense is the process of transformation of some things or phenomena into global ones. It can be described as a process by which the people of the world are unified into a single society and function together.” That sounds nice enough, but looking a bit further into Merriam-Webster’s definition we find that globalization is “the act or process of globalizing; the state of being globalized; especially, the development of an increasingly integrated global economy marked especially by free trade, free flow of capital, and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets.” Many have recently extended this latter economic definition of the term to include knowledge, its generation, and dissemination—the knowledge economy.

I guess it is this linking of knowledge and economy that creates certain ambivalence. In the academic world, it is long-held practice to use one’s archival journal publications (i.e., knowledge generation and dissemination) as a criterion to grant one tenure (with the concomitant high degree of job security). I am told that currently in some countries there is a direct substantial monetary reward to academics publishing in archival journals, like JMD. It is not for me to argue that you cannot serve both knowledge and mammon, but lingering questions do arise.

Therefore, as far as JMD goes, I suggest that internationalism is a better-suited term than globalization. Again according to Merriam-Webster’s definition, internationalism is (1) international character, principles, interests, or outlook; and (2) a policy of cooperation among nations; an attitude or belief favoring such a policy. One may argue that internationalism has its own political connotations, but they do not seem to be that widely known these days. Besides, ASME is right by me on this one. In recent years, ASME International (rather than, say, Global ASME) has become very active and present in many countries around the world.

In this spirit, JMD is an international journal. I have extracted the table here from the journal data showing manuscript submissions by country of originating author over the past several years. The number of countries is truly impressive. At the same time, we have six international associate editors out of 25 total. So I have been asking some of our contributors outside the USA how they feel about the journal and its accessibility to them. The general sense I got is as follows:

The online submission process has helped immensely in bridging the distance barriers. Proper use of English is a challenge for some authors, but a bigger challenge comes from cultural differences. For example, many non-US authors traditionally do not include comprehensive referencing, the need to establish a particular work in the context of previous work (global, as it were) being seemingly less pressing. Another challenge is the perception that US-based authors have a greater affinity toward each other, and therefore may review each others’ work more favorably. Knowing a fellow author personally, say, from attending the ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conference, is generally very desirable. Whether it works in your favor in a JMD submission review is debatable; if you did a great job in presenting your work or even had a chance to clarify your points in a discussion, a future reviewer will likely remember it positively; but the opposite is just as likely. On balance, however, an author’s attendance in ASME conferences and interaction with peer researchers is invaluable.

My conclusions then are the following: (i) JMD is part of ASME International and espouses internationalism in principle and in practice; therefore, it welcomes and encourages international submissions; (ii) participation in ASME conferences is highly desirable; (iii) proper use of English is critical for a successful review; and (iv) familiarity with JMD published papers is an important guide for content, context, and style. On my part, I expect to have more international members on our editorial board, and to share their principles, competences, and interests to the benefit of us all.