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Open letter from the Editor-in-Chief

UCL Open: Environment – why are we doing this?

Very shortly humanity needs to begin solving the planetary problems caused by humanity’s activities and moving towards making the world a better place for all its citizens. 10 billion people can’t be provided with the energy, water and food they need without such an effort.

For example, by 2020 or soon thereafter, emissions of greenhouse gases must peak if the impacts of climate change are to be kept in reasonable check. Failure to successfully tackle problems like climate change or to deal with inequalities that mean that there is plenty, or even over-supply, in one place and scarcity in another could lead to social, economic and environmental problems that will put sustainable development out of reach.

Tackling issues like climate change is a fundamentally multidisciplinary exercise. To succeed it will need long-term observation and understanding of planetary processes, modelling and projections into the future, risk assessment and engineering solutions (including biological engineering) that will have to include the public acceptability of new technologies built in from the start. In all likelihood it will need to invent new financial and economic approaches to help those communities and nations that find themselves cast in the role of climate victims (e.g. those living in vulnerable communities in coastal areas). It might even, if we have to resort to geoengineering the planet or engineering plants to enhance the rate of photosynthesis, be forced to ask what the right level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere really is. That would pose legal and ethical and moral questions that there would not be easy agreement on. Just think how difficult it has been to get nations to agree on just emission reductions and ways of measuring that though the processes of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

No one discipline is going to tackle this kind of problem. Neither is any one discipline going to make the world a better place. And making the world a better place is an aim that it is too easy to lose sight of when all around there are problems that are so pressing. It is an aim that the academic community must not forget or, by default, leave solely in the hands of the global economy or global and national politics.

The knowledge and evidential material produced by the endeavour of academic institutions worldwide has a vital role to play in this process. Academic endeavour alone will not find the solutions that are needed but it can provide the knowledge and evidence that people need in order to make decisions and choices that will affect everybody. These decisions and choices cannot be based solely on what people believe to be the case; neither can they be based on or false information that has been reinforced through social media processes. Neither are they likely to be achieved in the current global political and economic climate if academia stands back from the dialogue. Of course once people have the knowledge they need to know how they can act and they need to feel empowered to do so and what benefits will result.

UCL Open: Environment aims to publish material relevant to making the world a better place and tackling the planetary problems brought about by human activity. It will not just publish academic papers but will engage in the dialogue about what we as a species do next. It will engage on the basis of knowledge and evidence. It will not seek to make people’s choices or decision’s for them but it hopes to become a source of respected information and a forum for discourse. It will try to publish material relevant to people’s lives as they live them in their communities as often as possible. It will invite input from decision-makers and policy analysts and is open to the idea that research plans and programmes could use the journal to publish evaluations of progress measured against original aims and objectives as we need some way of moving multi-disciplinary efforts forward and those kinds of evaluations are one way of doing this.

UCL Open: Environment will have a distinctive approach to accepting articles. There will be a two-stage processes. First, submitted articles will be considered by members of the editorial team and if within the scope of the journal and compliant with the journal’s policies then the article will move to a pre-print server. This is not publication in the journal. This will merely open the article to comment by referees. If an article on the pre-print server is thought suitable by referees then the article will be considered further by the editorial board and the presumption is that such an article will then be formally published in the journal and assigned page numbers. It is hoped that papers will be multidisciplinary in nature and that the double jeopardy that has haunted this area of endeavour for many decades can be largely avoided. Only submissions of good quality and well balanced articles and considered refereeing will make that possible.

I hope you can join me in wishing UCL Open: Environment to succeed in what it is setting out to do, in short:

  • Help to make the world a better place;
  • Publish knowledge and evidence needed to tackle the planetary problems caused by human activity;
  • Encourage the use of evidence in making decisions at every level;
  • Facilitate dialogue that engages people in their communities in what kind of world they would like to see.

Prof Dan Osborn
Editor-in-Chief, UCL Open: Environment

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About UCL Open: Environment

UCL Open: Environment is a new open and transparent, open access (OA) megajournal where high-impact disciplinary and interdisciplinary research is published that showcases radical and critical thinking on real world problems, with the aim of benefitting humanity. Instead of a journal with narrow specifications, the megajournal welcomes submissions across a broad range of themes in all aspects of environment-related research.

Open for anyone to submit to, the megajournal will champion the open scholarship agenda by openly and transparently publishing peer-reviewed works that generate new knowledge, new ideas and new thinking. Articles will be judged on the merit and scientific validity (sound scholarship) of the work and the megajournal is inviting submissions from any grade of researcher at UCL and beyond, at all career stages, including early career researchers, professionals, and senior scholars. The entire publishing process will be open and transparent – operating on a preprint server, post-publication, open peer review model.

You can find further information and the full aims and scope of the megajournal by clicking on the headings below.

Our vision

Knowledge should be accessible to all, regardless of location or financial means, and at UCL we believe that the future of academic and scholarly pursuit is best served by an open science agenda, towards a fully open access environment.

By establishing UCL Press and in turn UCL Open: Environment, by bringing the publication and dissemination of knowledge back into the academy, it is our aim to stimulate disruptive thinking, to challenge prevailing scholarly publishing models, across and beyond the university, and to transform the way new knowledge is shared openly and without barriers. Our objective is not only to innovate and take a leading role into new open methods of scholarly publication, but also to develop a sustainable and cost effective solution for the communities we serve – researchers, educators, students, policy makers, institutions, etc.

UCL Open: Environment is the first iteration and pilot of this new open and transparent publishing model – UCL Open – with its focus in environment-related research. Our ambition is to further develop the model and to roll it out across other broad and multidisciplinary foci.


Aims and scope

Find out more about the focus and subject coverage of UCL Open: Environment.


How it works

Explore how the UCL Open: Environment platform operates open peer review.


Article types & descriptions

If you are considering submitting, find more information about what you can submit for publication.


Indexing

Find out where publications are indexed and archived.


Editorial Board Members

Our Editors are passionate about multidisciplinary research and how an open publication landscape can benefit research. Read more about the Editors and their research interests.


Article-Processing Charges

Publishing open access articles isn’t without cost. UCL Open: Environment levies an Article-Processing Charge (APC) to all non-UCL authors once the article has been editorially accepted, however, the APC price is set as low as possible so to cover the open access publication costs of the article, including typesetting and copyediting, publication, and indexing. See here for the further information on APCs including applying for waivers.


Information for authors

Read more about how to submit and publish in UCL Open: Environment.


Information for reviewers

Find out how to review for UCL Open: Environment.


How to cite

One of the benefits of publishing your work at UCL Open: Environment is that once a new submission is approved by the Editor for peer review, it is immediately made free to read online under the CC-BY 4.0 attribution licence, with an assigned DOI, making it immediately re-usable and citable. Find out more about citing a preprint article and an official publication in UCL Open: Environment.


Open access policy

All preprint and editorially accepted version of record articles published in UCL Open: Environment are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY) 4.0 international license agreement and published open access, making articles immediately and freely available to read and download. This is in accordance with the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) definition of open access.

The CC-BY license agreement allows authors to retain copyright while allowing others to copy, distribute, and make some uses of the work. Further information regarding this can be found at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 and the author contributor agreement terms and conditions for publication in UCL Open: Environment can be freely accessed online at
https://ucl-about.scienceopen.com/author-contributor-agreement.


UCL Open: Environment metadata & publishing information

ISSN: 2632-0886
Frequency: UCL Open: Environment publishes on a continuous process, or “As and When Ready” to publish.
Time to publication: this will be updated on an on-going basis once we have this data.

Contact us

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Multidisciplinary research

UCL seeks to transform how knowledge is shared and applied to humanity’s problems. Only by sharing academic research as openly and widely as possible – with, for example, researchers, educators, students, policymakers, partners and members of the public – can its benefits to humanity be maximised. The traditional scholarly publication system is not suited to, nor does it intend to serve, this purpose. UCL Open is a further innovative step towards delivering our ambitions in this area, building on UCL Press’s leading accomplishments in open access.

Rarely can the most interesting questions or the most significant societal challenges be adequately addressed by one discipline, one university or one sector alone. Disciplinary excellence is at the heart of how knowledge develops. But, to amplify and inform our research we need to cross what might be seen as conventional boundaries – between disciplines and many different kinds of communities in the academic, business and social spheres. This should increase mutual knowledge and engagement, and develop co-design and co-production approaches to research and ways of finding innovative solutions to complex societal problems. The environmental challenges the world faces as recognised by United Nations bodies, national governments and the business community make this a good time to launch an open access megajournal to foster dialogue and help formulate solutions.

Crossing the boundaries between disciplines is fundamental to UCL Open: Environment. But academic multidisciplinarity is not the full extent of our ambitions for this new venture. If we are to maximise the positive effects research and scholarship can have on the world, we need to overcome the barriers between the research endeavour and the societal needs that can inform it, and between the mechanisms through which research can engage with, for example, policymakers, businesses, community stakeholders, practitioners and the public. Consequently, UCL Open: Environment will look to inform the discourse on both academic and societal issues. Its success will depend on the contributions from UCL, other universities and research organisations around the world.

Prof David Price
UCL Vice-Provost (Research)

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How it works

Where traditionally scholarly publication and peer review suffers from a lack of transparency, recognition and accountability, UCL Open: Environment is different. Operating dually as an open access e-journal and offering immediate publication in a dedicated preprint server, with open peer review , the entire publishing process will be accessible, transparent, accountable and fast. Articles submitted to the megajournal are first posted to the preprint server to undergo open peer review, identified as not yet peer reviewed, then officially published in the UCL Open: Environment journal after editorial acceptance, thereafter being identified as an accepted article.

Preprints are scholarly papers not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal. They speed the delivery and accessibility of academic work and lead to faster reuse by the scientific community. Being freely accessible, UCL Open: Environment enables knowledge to spread beyond typical journal subscribers in university and research settings, during the review process.

Following a simple submission process, authors submit to the megajournal by using their ORCID (see below sections). Upon submission, articles are assessed for suitability by the Editor before proceeding with peer review. If approved for peer review, the submitted paper is immediately made available on the preprint to read under the CC-BY licence and assigned a DOI (digital object identifier) from CrossRef and integrated with their ORCID.

Once the paper is online, the Editor invites reviewers to openly review it. Authors are also encouraged to invite reviewers to comment and/or review their paper, as are readers. Reviewers not invited by the Editor must possess the reviewer criteria as outlined on our how to peer review pages.

All reviews are posted to the preprint alongside the paper under the CC-BY license and assigned a DOI from CrossRef, similar to a formal research publication. This means that every review is re-usable, citable, and a permanent record of the publication and reviewers activities. Every review performed for the megajournal is integrated with the reviewer’s ORCID and can also be uploaded to other review credit sites such as Publons and ImpactStory, helping reviewers to build their profiles.

Once the paper is approved by reviewers and accepted by the Editor, the article is professionally typeset and copyedited and is published officially in the UCL Open: Environment as the version of record. Links to the review history, including all previously published review reports and versions remains freely and permanently available to all readers.

Publishing scholarly articles open access is, however, not without costs, and all non-UCL authored papers will be required to pay an Article-Processing Charge (APC) once the article has been editorially accepted. The APC price is set as low as possible and based on word count to cover the open access publication costs of the article, including typesetting and copyediting, publication, and indexing. APCs range from a brief article of up to 1,000 words through to a long article of up to 10,000 words.

Additionally, UCL Press offers waivers and discounts for papers whose corresponding authors are based in low-income countries, as classified by the Research4Life initiative (https://www.research4life.org/access/eligibility/).

Further information regarding APCs can be found on the Article-Processing Charges page.


Information for authors

Read more about how to submit and publish in UCL Open: Environment.


Information for reviewers

Find out how to review for UCL Open: Environment.


ORCID

UCL Open: Environment user profiles are based almost exclusively on the public information you provide in your connected ORCID account. Read more information about how we use ORCID as well as registering and linking your ORCID to submit, review and comment, at –
https://ucl-about.scienceopen.com/orcid/