Volcanica has recently become a member of OASPA in the scholar publisher category, further enriching the growing community of members. To gain more insight into their recent affiliation with OASPA and to learn more about their institution, we conducted an interview with Professor Jamie Farquharson, Editor-in-Chief of Volcanica & Specially Appointed Professor at Niigata University, Japan
Q. Tell us a bit about your organisation and the service it provides – and your role within it.
Volcanica is a diamond open access scholarly journal, publishing high-quality peer-reviewed research related to volcanoes and volcanic processes. The topics we cover include the physical aspects of volcanic eruptions and unrest, as well impacts of volcanoes on society, health, and the environment. By adopting and promoting a “diamond” open access model—whereby articles are both free to publish and free to access—we remove barriers for publishing and accessing volcanological research around the world. As well as founding Volcanica in 2016, I am currently serving as the journal manager, editor-in-chief, and head of the production team. I work within a dedicated team of around forty editors, all of whom are enthusiastic about open science.
Q. Why did you decide to join OASPA and what do you hope to get out of your OASPA membership?
The open science landscape continues to evolve, in particular from disparate small-scale efforts towards an interconnected community. Engaging with larger initiatives such as OASPA provides Volcanica with an invaluable opportunity to be part of a diverse ecosystem of organisations and individuals all working towards similar goals. Moreover, it gives us access to tools and resources necessary to ensure that we continue to develop the journal in line with emerging technical standards, and keep abreast of cutting-edge developments and initiatives in open scholarship. In turn, this helps us to provide the best possible experience for our authors, readers, and broader community. More generally, we are enthusiastic about being able to learn from—and contribute to—something bigger than ourselves.
Q. How is your organization showing its commitment to making globally equitable participation in open scholarly communication a reality?
Volcanica is predicated on the idea that no-one should be priced out of being able to publish their research, and that anyone in the world should be able to access and read about it.
In collaboration with a university press, we are able to provide a free venue for publishing research, thereby levelling the playing field. Equity, diversity, and inclusion are at the heart of Volcanica’s mission and there are multiple EDI initiatives embedded within the journal. We work towards facilitating cross-cultural communication and collaboration, offer opportunities to early-career researchers, and provide avenues for research dissemination to communities and organisations that don’t always have the resources or opportunity to contribute their expertise to the scientific literature. This kind of international collaboration stands alongside other Volcanica initiatives (such as a frictionless author name-change policy, multilingual abstracts, and an early-career editor mentorship program) as a vehicle for combatting inequalities in volcanology and directly enriching the broader research community.
Members of the Volcanica team are also engaged in open software development and testing, with the aim of making innovative publishing tools and resources available for the wider community.
Q. What do you think are the main challenges for funders and institutions to move to incentivising open publishing practices as a positive contribution to career development?
There is a continued reliance of many decision-making bodies (e.g. funders, tenure committees, recruitment panels, awards committees) on inherently skewed publishing metrics (such as impact factors and h-indices): a structural norm which preferentially disadvantages already-marginalised communities and individuals. Often, this is at odds with the goal of disincentivising closed access and promoting open scholarship.
Active involvement in open publishing is rarely considered in terms of career development within traditional academic pathways. This is especially the case when open scholarship doesn’t result in conventional citable outputs (i.e. research papers), which can be the case for editors, software developers, and data managers, for example. These kinds of “invisible” contributions are crucial for the broader research community, but often go unrewarded.
Q. How do you think OASPA can help mitigate those challenges?
OASPA is the nerve centre of a diverse, pandisciplinary community, and is therefore ideally positioned to facilitate cross-sector discussion and development in the open scholarship space. This kind of broad intercommunity collaboration is critical to addressing these and other challenges. By facilitating knowledge and resource sharing and promoting best practices, OASPA directly contributes to the viability and sustainability of open access publishing in its various forms. This includes supporting and consolidating small initiatives. In turn this helps shift the perception of open access publishing, and ensures that the conversation on open scholarship remains in the public consciousness.
Finally, beyond enabling dialogue between different actors, OASPA has the capacity to actuate meaningful, practical changes in the global scholarly publishing ecosystem.
Q. Anything else you wish to share?
At its heart, open scholarship is a social justice issue: through open science we strive towards the inclusion of disenfranchised groups and individuals. This kind of openness is foundational for science that is more transparent, more inclusive, more accessible, more diverse, and more equitable.