Posts Tagged ‘open access publishing’

Student-led Sustainability Science Video Journal

Recently I was filmed by some of ASU’s School of Sustainability graduate students regarding my research.  The interview became a part of their “Elevator Talks” series in the online video journal that they edit – the Sustainability Review (tSR), which is accessible at

tSR converted from a traditional journal format to a video format last year and publishes peer-reviewed science videos of sustainability research in an online format.  The goal is to make the science more accessible than many traditional forms of science communication.  This is particularly relevant as the challenges of sustainability science concern both the social and natural environment (the social-ecological systems that I so often mention).  However addressing these challenges requires changes in the societal drivers exacerbating these challenges, particularly within the Anthropocene.  Oftentimes, these changes require mobilization of the many.  Traditionally, science has not been successfully communicated or done an adequate job at increasing awareness of these dilemmas.  The science videos of tSR attempt to tackle these problems.  I encourage you to see what the students are working on.




Open Access International Journal of the Commons now indexed!

Some time ago, I wrote a post ( about how IJC was finally being recognized by Scopus, the primary academic indexing organization in Europe.  I am happy to say that after two more years of sweat equity, the International Journal of the Commons ( is now recognized by ISI, the leading publishing group in the US.

The importance of this stems from being an open access journal.  It seems that Open Access publishing is a real touchstone in academia now with a slew of articles in the Chronicle, on academic blogs, and through the big-time publishing houses.  Many of the charges against open access publishing are ridiculous, but a number of unscrupulous, for-profit open-access journals create an atmosphere where publication seems based solely on ability to pay.  This is decidedly not what open access publishing is about.

IJC publications are paid by the contributing authors after rigorous peer review (with exceptions made for developing country authorship).  This is where ISI recognition helps.  It shows that our journal abides by stringent standards, publishes high quality literature, and contributes to the scientific advancement of society.  At the same time, authors retain their copyrights, articles are accessible anywhere there is an internet connection for free, and our readership can move to practitioner and developing country readers beyond the paywalls of the main publishing companies.  ISI examined our 7 years of publication, the quality of our authors, the citation rates for the articles, and the consistency of publication.

Congratulations to my co-editor and friend, Frank van Laerhoven, to Erling Berge for his editorial prowess over the past several years,  to our outstanding editorial board, to the institutional support of IASC, and, most importantly, to our diligent and dedicated reviewers.  Without all of your help, this achievement would not be possible.  Thank you!

A Short Riff on Open Access Journals

Over the past few months, my good friend and co-editor of the International Journal of the Commons, Frank van Laerhoven has spoken and written eloquently about open access scientific journals in a number of places.  This link ( goes to an interview with Frank on the subject.

For the present purposes, I wanted to make a few comments for a broader readership that may not know what I’m mean by open access publications.  I’m referring to online academic journals that are available free of charge.  If your child is working on a school project, try these.  If your interested in a specific area, check them out.  There are many available.  So on to my comments…  

First, open access scientific publications are growing rapidly.  These are different from blogs, such as this one, and other unreviewed web sources.  Open access journals are often peer reviewed to the same or higher standards than print journals.  IJC is currently tracked by Scopus (the European academic journal accreditor) and will hopefully be tracked by ISI (the American version) soon.  All of our articles are reviewed by 3 experts in the field in a double-blind process.  So if there are no differences in quality to traditional journals, what are the differences?

There are two main ones in my mind.  First, it continues to baffle me why journals still force publications into an annual print cycle of monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual publication.  The internet allows us to immediately share the latest breaking scientific advancements as soon as they have been reviewed.  It also provides a mechanism to have others comment and respond – either in a reviewed format or in a more public forum – in manners that are missing or veerrry slow in print versions.  

Second, our journal’s readership, authors, and editorial board are scattered globally.  Many are in developing countries.  One of the major issues with traditional publishing formats is that journal subscription is geared toward libraries.  As a result, individual subscriptions and access to individual articles is prohibitively expensive.  If individuals don’t have access to a Research One caliber library, they often have no access to the publications, electronically or in print.  This is unacceptable for us, given our topic.  Instead, we offer open access freely to anyone with internet access.  In addition, authors retain copyrights to their work, as opposed to the copyrights in traditional journals where authors and reviewers alike often work as indentured servants to the publishing houses.

The downside to this free access, is that we require a publication fee for authors.  Through volunteerism (editors and reviewers), low-cost (and somewhat minimalist) copy-editing, and minimal overhead, we can keep the charges to $15/page.  A standard article comes in at around $300.  This contrasts with other pay-for-publication journals of closer to $1000.  We know that this is a challenge, but granting agencies are quite open to covering these costs.  We also try to offset these expenses for developing country submissions.

My view is that open access journalism will continue to grow at an exponential pace.  The traditional journals continue to be under attack for profiteering off the hard work of others and offer flawed output.  I don’t see them going away entirely, but I’m optimistic for the future of our journal and other open access offerings.  Please support us and see what is available at: