27 Feb 2014

This is a blog post by Paul Benneworth, covering the latest article in Regional Studies, Regional Science and the opportunities given by this new Open Access Journal. 

New title in Regional Studies, Regional Science by Bazak Ozkul

The regional studies paper I have been most interested in this week is Bazak Ozkul’s recently published paper “Changing home to work travel in England and Wales”. It is published in the RSA’s new Open Access journal Regional Studies, Regional Science, and can be viewed free-of-charge by all here.

Basak’s piece draws in part on research that was presented at the RSA’s 2012 European Conference last year in Delft, and which won the award for best Early Career Paper in conference. But what really excited me about the piece was that it demonstrated the value of the Early Career Article section of the journal, in which I have been involved.

Some background information on the Regional Insights initiative

In 2010, the RSA launched the Early Career magazine Regional Insights, which sought to make student members’ and early career members’ research more visible and accessible to the wider community. Although we included comment, book review and career development tips, the heart of Regional Insights was always the feature articles, which settled down to a format of 3 pages.

To give our authors the best chance of making an impact, we had deliberately adopted a formative publishing approach, where papers were not simply accepted or rejected, but authors were supported in making improvements. Each paper began life as a 1,000 word proposal, and then those selected proceeded to produce a full 3,000 word paper.

A corresponding editor from the editorial team would work with the author to suggest improvements until the paper was almost ready. As a last quality check, a second editor would review its readiness for publication, and once approved it would be published in the next available issue.

Although we always had faith that we would be a success for our authors, we were always impressed by the high quality of material we were able to publish. Speaking to members at conferences and meetings, we also realised that the whole membership saw the value in early career publications that were published during – not at the end of – the research process.

Regional Studies, Regional Science - a new perspective on (open-access) online publishing

But we were still delighted when in Autumn last year, we were delighted to be invited to participate in the new Open Access journal. It had always chafed a bit that Regional Insights papers were not more visible – they seemed to languish in the magazine without collecting the citations and making the impact that we felt they deserved.

So the Open Access platform seemed ideal for helping with this, and maximising our authors’ visibility and impact in our scholarly community. The papers are available free at the point of use and in perpetuity to everyone, everywhere.

RSRS is a journal, and we have further added to our quality processes in the spirit of constructive review: there is a final review by all the editors, both of the early career section, but also the journal’s Editors-in-Chief.

And we didn’t start from scratch – we have spent the last six months transitioning from operating as a print magazine to an Open Access journal, and our launch authors, including Basak, have met these new quality requirements admirably. We have several papers now in the pipeline, and anticipate publishing around 10-15 new early career articles this year.

The big stumbling block for Open Access is who pays, and that is still an open question. To prevent it becoming an issue for Early Career authors, the Association has generously provided us with an interim bursary fund; we are able to help authors who cannot secure their own institutional support to publish with us.

So we hope that more of our members will take advantage of the tremendous opportunities that this platform offers. We have three calls for abstracts per year, and aim that from abstract acceptance to publication will be one year.

We accept proposals from any student or early career members, and more details on how to apply are available here. The next deadline is 15th June 2014, and we hope that many more of you will consider publishing in this exciting new opportunity!

Paul Benneworth, Enschede, 27th February 2014.

Paul Benneworth is a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) at the University of Twente, the Netherlands.