17 Oct 2014

The early career editors of Regional Studies, Regional Science met in Essen, Germany recently to discuss our launch year.  We are very pleased with what we have achieved, with 8 Early Career Papers now online, and another seven well advanced in the pipeline for the rest of the year.
Since Basak’s paper on commuting patterns in England and Wales made its debut for our section, at the time of writing our material has been viewed almost 4,500 times.  This is partly a consequence of our Open Access funding model, and also to the influence of social media in helping to publicise our new articles.
But what we think best explains this impressive interest is the high quality of the papers that we have been able to publish in our section.  All the articles use a solid piece of empirics well-embedded within a conceptual conundrum to make a clear contribution to a contemporary regional studies debate.
And that makes them compelling reading, as these viewing figures show.
In our section, in contrast to the majority of current journals, we use what we call a formative review process.  Instead of seeking to summatively evaluate whether papers are worthy of publication, for those contributors we accept into the process, we work intensively with them to help best present their ideas.
Each contributor works with a named Corresponding Editor who helps them prepare their first manuscript.  That draft is then reviewed anonymously by a second editor, who helps clarify the article’s key messages.
Once that hurdle is cleared, the paper then goes to the remaining editors who all identify the areas for a final polish.  After those comments are dealt with, all that remains is for copy editing and the Editors-in-Chief to provide the final imprimatur.
It’s a fairly demanding process for participants, but we think the results justify the input.  In Essen, we calculated that each paper receives on average 16 hours of editorial time as it progresses through these stages.
That time might be spread out over a year or so, but that editor time input is equivalent to a 2 day writing course or summer school for early career researchers.  So we think that this publication route offers real benefits for our early career members in considering following the ECR route.
So how can you get involved in our Open Access revolution?
The starting point is to submit a 1,000 word abstract following the guidelines in the Regional Studies, Regional Science call here.  Due to generous association support, we are currently able to cover the Open Access costs for those we accept as contributors.  And that means that your contribution is available for free, for ever.
Under our approach, we are not just after people that have excellent research, but also the desire to maximise the contribution of the research and the determination to learn how to deal with advice on improving your coveted research.  
So if you think that you’ve got what it takes to get involved, then send us an abstract before the next deadline, and it could be your paper that is one of the Association highlights of 2015.

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