Interview with Ruth Falshaw, the Editor-in-Chief of New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science

We are happy to invite Ruth Falshaw, the Editor-in-Chief, to talk about the open access journal New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science and Scion, and her vision for the journal.

Ruth Falshaw
Ruth Falshaw

Could you please tell us something about the New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science?

The New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science has been owned by the New Zealand Forest Research Institute Limited (now trading as Scion) since it began in 1971. The original aim of the journal was to consolidate the reporting of forestry research relevant to New Zealand and the south-west Pacific. The journal was refreshed in 2009 to reflect numerous changes in scientific publishing that had occurred with the advent of the digital era. This refresh included making the journal open access via the Scion website. The scope of the journal was also expanded to cover the breadth of forestry science world-wide. In 2013, Scion joined forces with SpringerOpen to take the journal to the next level with all the support that an international publisher can provide. SpringerOpen was Scion’s preferred choice of publisher because it was forward-looking and had already embraced the concept of open access publishing.

What made you consider open access for the journal?

Scion funds the New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science to promote the transfer of high-quality forestry research to forest industries and forestry scientists all over the world.  Open access is the ideal medium for achieving this goal since it removes any barriers to obtaining content. It also makes journal management more efficient by eliminating administration relating to subscriptions and by reducing print and postage costs.

How did open access help you to promote the journal?

Scion was able to promote the open access version of New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science and its accessibility by setting up a free alert service for newly published papers that was available to everyone. Scion also published supporting articles in its corporate newsletter. More recently, Scion (@scion_research) has used tweets as a promotional tool. However, the most important promotional tool is a website with full functionality provided by a reputable publisher that users expect from a high-quality journal. Marketing by SpringerOpen highlighting the accessibility of the journal has led to massive increases in users to the website over the last three years and has increased the number of submissions.

What are the challenges faced in publishing open access?

The biggest challenge is overcoming prejudice among scientists that all open access journals are disreputable. There are certainly plenty of predatory journals around so it is a huge benefit for the New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science to be published by a reputable publisher.

How do you see open access developing in terms of Forestry Science, in New Zealand and in the rest of the world?

I think that open access is the way of the future for all types of science publishing globally. Libraries world-wide will continue to be underfunded, which will limit their ability to purchase journal subscriptions. At the same time, researchers want instant access to information and they will simply ignore any work that is costly to obtain or not immediately available. The organizations that fund science, in particular government funders, are also increasingly requiring that research results are accessible free of charge. The key challenge is to develop transparent mechanisms for funding the cost of online publishing without the perception that authors can simply pay to have anything published. The reputation of the publisher, therefore, will be paramount. The New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science has the twin benefits of being funded by Scion so authors do not have to pay the article-processing charges and being published by the highly reputable publisher SpringerOpen.

What are your ambitions for the journal’s future?

I would like the reputation of the New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science to continue to improve as a result of publishing more high-quality papers and to see the Journal ranked in the top twenty forestry journals.

What is the role of Scion? How does it work with SpringerOpen?

Scion and SpringerOpen collaborate to run the New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science. Scion owns the journal and pays for its running costs, including article-proecessing charges so authors do not have to pay them. SpringerOpen provides the infrastructure (editorial management, website, and production) that enables the journal to operate as a modern open-access publication.

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