“Elementa has the potential to be a really valuable resource to both the scientific community and the public, including policy-makers.”
Please tell us a little bit about your position and your areas of research.
I am a chemical oceanographer and Climate Geochemist with the Canadian ministry of Fisheries and Oceans. My research focusses on the air-sea exchange of climatically-active substances, mainly carbon dioxide, but also organic aerosols. I look at how climate impacts the oceanic production and release (versus consumption and absorption) of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and how those processes feed back onto the climate system. This involves the study of biogeochemical processes controlling not only concentrations within the water, but also the actual transport across the air-sea interface, and much of my work has been focused on the biogeochemistry of sea ice and the sea-surface microlayer.
Why did you decide to become an Associate Editor for Elementa‘s Ocean Science domain?
Jody’s description of the plans for Elementa made it sound like a very worthwhile and interesting endeavor, and I knew that she would be a very good person to work with on this.
What are your thoughts on the quality of the Ocean Science articles already published in Elementa?
I have been very impressed by the quality of the articles, so far. Of course, having had a hand in assuring the quality of those articles, I’m biased….
Is it important to you that Elementa is a multidisciplinary journal?
This has proven to be more valuable than I had anticipated. At first, I was disturbed that the articles are being mixed in the list on the website – in most multidisciplinary journals, I usually find that articles outside my immediate fields of interest are too esoteric, and it’s oppressive to have to wade through their titles to find the papers that interest me. However, with Elementa, as more papers have accrued, I have found that I really appreciate having the articles mixed, because so many of them actually are clearly relevant beyond their domains and into mine. I’ve been surprised by how many of the articles from outside the Oceans domain I open and peruse.
Why do you believe that research surrounding human impacts on the atmosphere within the epoch of the Anthropocene to be of significance?
With the possible exception of the search for a cure for cancer, this may be the single most important scientific problem facing our era. Again, I’m biased – it’s what I study, and I wouldn’t be doing it, if I didn’t think it was important. However, it is true that human impacts on the Earth system have the potential to influence nearly every aspect of human experience through climate and health, and our understanding of this complex system is still only rudimentary.
What are your thoughts on the importance of open access journals?
I think this is very important, and not just for scientists working in small institutes in developing countries that cannot afford many journal subscriptions. I do not know how much the general population, interested amateurs or ‘lay scientists’, are actually reading open-access scientific journals. However, from my apocrophyl perspective, it seems that people are becoming more scientifically literate, and it’s hopefully valuable for solid, peer-reviewed science to be available to anyone with the motivation to dig and try to understand these things. Of course, there’s a risk with that – we’ve heard way too many stories in recent years in which a little bit of knowledge in public gadflies has created tremendous difficulty for some climate scientists, but that’s a risk we have to learn to live with and manage.
Do you think it is important that Elementa is a nonprofit publication?
Yes, I do believe that is very important to helping keep publication costs down for individual scientists. Particularly during this period of transition in scientific publishing, there is still a problematic disconnect between the institutional budgets that support publishing. With the rise of open-access journals, libraries are saving money in subscription fees, while individual scientists are having to pay higher publication fees. However, few institutions have figured out how to apply the savings in one area to the higher costs in the other, and some fundamental financial restructuring is necessary. In the meantime, journals like Elementa, that aren’t trying to actually make money out of all this, really help.
Why do you believe that colleagues should consider submitting their papers to Elementa?
I do think that Elementa has the potential to be a really valuable resource to both the scientific community and the public, including policy-makers. We have some distance to go, before we get there, but we’re on the correct path. Unlike many new journals that have arisen over the last decade, journals where none of the names of the editors are recognizable, Elementa is, indeed, a real journal, being edited by real scientists, and we are publishing high-quality papers of broad significance. I understand why some of my colleagues are hesitant to let their students submit to Elementa – it’s not yet clear that we will indeed ‘take’ and become the force we hope to be. However, we are attracting papers from established scientists with substantial stature, and that bodes well for our future. As long as we keep up the hard work.