The editors of Annals of Forest Science met at Nancy, Thursday July 2, 2015. During the meeting, they exchanged ideas with the current Publisher, Springer, and with several specialists of Scientific and Technical Information from Inra, CNRS and Inria about new challenges in science editing.
Annals of Forest Science is quite an established journal in the field (it is over 50 years old!). Its scope is centered on interdisciplinary appraoches of the large scale changes occurring in forest ecosystems and in the wood industries, which makes it a generalist journal compared to others that focus on tree biology, on a specific segment of the forest wood chain, or on specific processes like global change.
Annals of Forest Science is facing several important challenges. The share of papers dealing with forests and wood that are actually published by journals identified as specialised in forests and wood has been decreasing over time (it was around 10-15% during the 2002-2011 time span, and is probably even smaller to date. At the same time, like in other fields, the number of published papers increases at an unprecedented pace, and new scientific disciplines deal with forest and wood issues and raise novel and intreresting questions. This observation puts our journals under pressure: we have to increase our visibility and impact to continue to play an important role in disseminating new knowledge in these expanding fields.
Another challenge emerged in the last years, with the development of internet and electronic dissemination of science: that of Open Science. Open science may still be a fuzzy concept, we nevertheless believe forest and wood science need contribute to this trend and make their contribution as accessible as possible to a large number of scientist. This means use a publishing concept that is a close as possible of a Green Open Access to papers, and to contribute to the access to data. These two points were already adressed in two editorials published in the journal recently (Dreyer et al, 2014 and Fady et al, 2014).
Annals of Forest Science is willing to address these challenges and will in the next years innovate in several fields related to Open Science:
1. enhance the journal’s impact; this does not mean we focus on the ISI Impact Factor (but we take it into account as unfortunately many of our colleagues seem still not fully aware of the drawbacks of the misuse of IF). It means we want to develop the journal further and make it a major contributor to Forest and Wood Science, by providing an excellent service to our authors and readers, by still shortening the delays between submission and first decision, by enhancing the visibility of the published papers, by publishing under the principles of green open access, … In brief, we willo use all the tools available to act as a modern and efficient medium for science dissemination;
2. publish data papers and provide access to data associated to research papers; we currently are cooperating with several authors wishing to publish a data paper, i.e., a paper describing a more or less large data base, its structure and how to access it. The instructions to authors already describe how to submit such papers, with a (short) main text, a file providing the meta data related to the data base, and an access to the data base. We are still working out which is the best way to review all these items, and what are the assessment criteria to use; this should be finished by Fall 2015 and a list of criteria should be made available by then. In addition, we are pushing author of research papers to provide an access to the data in support to their paper; this is a difficult move as many authors are still reluctant to provide an access to their beloved data.
3. increase the visibility of peer reviews; there is a consensus that the peer review system, which still remains the best way to assess the quality of submitted manuscripts, is under severe stress. This is due to the large number of manuscripts submitted to different journals, and to the frequent resubmissions of manuscripts to a cascade of journal (usually with a decreasing IF-ranking). We will have to provide some solutions to improve this. One would be to value the reviewing work by publishing reviews attached to papers when both authors and reviewers agree; we are looking for such possibilities with Springer. Other solutions are under scrutiny, and we will come back when they are fully developed.
By addressing these three major challenges (and some others), Annals of Forest Science aims at evolving as a major contributor to open science in the fields of forest and wood science.
Dreyer E, Peiffer M, Bontemps J-D, Leban J-M 2014. Annals of Forest Science changes its scope and complies with green open access rules. Ann. For. Sci. 71: 425-426. 10.1007/s13595-014-0370-8.
Fady B, Benard A, Pichot C, Peiffer M, Leban J, Dreyer E 2014. The open data debate: a need for accessible and shared data in forest science. Ann. For. Sci.: 1-3. 10.1007/s13595-014-0375-3.