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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)