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SCAR General News

Prof Peter Convey, Chief Editor of Antarctic Science, is looking for contributions and input from the Antarctic research community. Read his ideas on future direction and priorities and suggestions for submissions here:

Antarctic ScienceFollowing on from the remarkably well attended and stimulating ‘online OSC’, I write as promised to the SCAR community to try and outline in more detail how I hope, as the new Chief Editor of the journal Antarctic Science, to further solidify and develop the already strong relationship between the journal and the SCAR scientific community. First, though, I have to congratulate the members of the SCAR secretariat, their colleagues at Leishmann Associates, and all the contributors, session organisers and participants, on the immense effort that went into achieving such a successful online meeting, especially under the exceptional circumstances of this year, something that the inherently very international Antarctic community cannot avoid but be impacted by in almost every aspect of our work. I am also particularly proud of our continued sponsorship of the Antarctic Science David Walton Memorial Lecture, and congratulate Prof. Nerilie Abram on giving such a stimulating, accessible and enjoyable presentation!

Anyway, to business! One of the great strengths and attractions of Antarctic Science for me is its intentionally multidisciplinary outlook, and this combined with the already very wide international ‘constituency’ that it draws its submissions from. With the journal’s Management Board, I am looking at ways of further developing the journal’s content and how it delivers value to the Antarctic research community. In doing this, we are already discussing a number of ideas, some of which I outline below. Some, if they are to become reality, clearly depend on engagement and involvement of members of the community (you!), while we are very open to input of new ideas.

Contact with SCAR and its various specialist groups (SRPs, action and expert groups, etc) provides an obvious ‘way in’ to increase awareness of the journal to each of their respective communities. However, we need to find ways of better engaging the ‘non-English speaking’ Antarctic research communities more strongly, particularly in South America, eastern Europe and Asia. This has to include finding ways of assisting more effectively with the language element of preparing paper submissions, something that is a challenge for many journals but is particularly relevant in an Antarctic context. An important objective should also be for the journal to engage more effectively and evenly across the different disciplines of Antarctic research than is currently the case, including recognising the shifting ‘profile’ of the Antarctic community to include areas such as application of the social sciences and humanities in the Antarctic context, the increasing attention given (and required!) to Antarctic governance and geopolitics, the increasing application of our science into decision making, and the active development and inclusion of ‘citizen science’ studies (and the collaborations with organisations such as IAATO that will underpin such studies).

The ‘Antarctic’ itself has quite a flexible definition across scientific disciplines, and there is an opportunity to increase representation of sub- and peri-Antarctic studies in the journal’s output, for instance in studies of the connections between Antarctica and lower latitudes, and in comparative studies involving other regions. Relating to both publications in the journal, and activities of Antarctic Science Bursary holders, we need to engage with today’s electronic world in order to try and increase the ‘outreach’ and publicity bringing these to the notice of wider audiences.

It is an appropriate time for us to look at widening the range of article types we advertise as welcoming, with clear potential to give greater prominence to ‘perspective’, ‘opinion’ or other types of articles, and greater emphasis given to soliciting reviews in specific topics as well as inviting unsolicited review proposals. We are also considering how to encourage greater use of special issues, and the tangential matter that such issues might be made more attractive if journal publication were to move to ‘online only’ (which would remove what some see as a limitation, where issue publication date is driven by that of the ‘slowest’ submission). We see the SCAR structure, for instance of distinct Science Research Progammes and specialist groups, providing a potentially ideal foundation both for special issue proposals, and for individual ‘state of the art’ perspective articles or reviews. Similarly, we recognise potential for contributions arising from the major international research collaborations that the Antarctic research community often epitomises, as well as from individual National Programmes.

Like virtually all journals, Antarctic Science depends on the voluntary and generously given contributions of its editorial panel members and reviewers (for which thank you all!). Now is a very good time to look across the disciplines the journal wants to cover and ensure that we have sufficient and even depth of expertise across these disciplines. Here, we will be more than grateful for recommendations of appropriate experts we can invite to become editors in different subjects, or for expressions of interest from individuals. As with our genuine intent to support the multinational and multilingual Antarctic community, we also welcome interest from all corners of our community.

Finally, as a charity, Antarctic Science ploughs the profits it makes from journal publication back into funding the Antarctic Science Bursary scheme, a scheme that has already benefitted many early career Antarctic researchers, and that we would like to see expand further. As with the challenges for some presented by ‘English language’ publication, we want to see a level playing field for the international applicants for Bursaries and, already, considerable progress has been made here, in particular with the help of APECS and the development of webinars and support networks aiding individuals in the preparation of their applications.

Peter Convey
British Antarctic Survey
September 2020