December 07, 2020

The Open Access Journal of the World Aquaculture Society

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As JWAS moves into its 52nd year of publication, JWAS 52 (1) will be the first fully Open Access issue of the journal. This is a timely and significant change, which was deliberated over a long period by our editorial team together with the WAS Board and the publishing house Wiley Blackwell. Moving to fully Open Access is extremely exciting and I am convinced that this change aligns the journal to future developments in publication and funding of scientific research worldwide, especially in aquaculture research.

Among many disciplines, it is fair to state that aquaculture is a global industry supported by a truly global scientific community. This means that there are countless aquaculture practitioners and researchers worldwide in desperate need of access to high‐quality research data to improve their aquaculture practices and output. The World Aquaculture Society (WAS) mission priorities of “promoting the educational scientific and technological development and advancement of aquaculture throughout the world” along with the “gathering and disseminating of technical and other information on aquaculture worldwide” directly recognized this need many years ago. JWAS fulfillment of this need over the years has been a key element in the development of the global industry. Meeting priorities of the journal and the society were central to the decision to move to Open Access (OA). OA ensures that the entire back catalog of JWAS and all future issues are now available to anyone in the world with Internet access or access to a library.

The world of publication is also changing for authors and scientists, many of whom are now required by their funders and employers to ensure OA to the results of their research. This requirement is driving a global trend of demand among authors for high‐quality OA outlets for their research. This brings with it significant implications for the publishing world with increasing numbers of journals moving to become fully OA and relying exclusively on payments made by author's funders and their institutions to cover the article publication charge (APC). Many institutions where this trend is well developed are making access deals to journals whereby no access fee is paid to obtain journal read, but rather institutions pay for a predefined number of manuscript charges per year in advance.

We believe that this trend will continue at an accelerated pace, with an increasing number of institutions and publishing houses changing the way that they charge for and provide access to their publications. JWAS has, in the past, provided opportunity to choose OA to authors but at a significantly higher overall APC than that which will apply to JWAS from January 2021, onwards. The format chosen ‐ to make JWAS fully OA ‐ is the one we believe most likely to succeed in a changing publications world and the most likely to ensure the advancement of JWAS as a high impact high‐quality aquaculture journal. Fully OA means providing full access which is more affordable and allowing many more researchers to access and read articles published in JWAS than in previous years. This is likely to increase the impact of your articles in JWAS and ultimately improve the JWAS Impact Factor while supporting society members and their needs.

Some of you may have concerns related to the quality of journal content based on reports of, or even negative experiences with “predatory” journals soliciting manuscripts. These so‐called OA journals are indeed predatory and are operated by unreliable or illegal publication houses. It is very important to point out the difference between an established journal's move to OA with an esteemed publisher, and the attempted establishment of a low‐quality, profit‐driven predatory journal claiming to be OA. There are many things that we could argue to counter these concerns, however, the best argumentation is simply to say that the highest standards of peer review, editorial review, and quality control will be maintained at JWAS.

High quality of research findings and manuscripts has been key to the reinvigoration of JWAS over the past 5 years. This will not change. Only quality articles, which make a significant contribution to the development of aquaculture worldwide, will be published. Authors who have high‐quality articles for which they are unable to pay the APC will be glad to hear that a large number of charge waivers are available for the editorial team to apply. There are also automatic waivers and discounts to specific nations by international agreement and by specific negotiation of the editorial team with the publisher. This means very clearly that anyone with a high‐quality high impact article will be able to publish in JWAS, whether they are able to cover the APC or not. It is extremely important to reiterate that we will always maintain that no one will be excluded from submitting or publishing an article in JWAS due to a limitation in their ability to pay APC charges.

The move to require OA publication and the efforts to fund APC costs worldwide is uneven in its geographical distribution. The push toward OA and OA funding is probably most advanced in Europe, however, regions and specific large institutions in the United States of America are also moving in this direction. Funding is available for OA in China while a large amount of countries in Africa and Southeast Asia are excluded from APC charges. There are, however, nations and regions, including South America, where APC is not waivered nor is it covered by funding, and we have made specific country‐based allowances for this discrepancy. We believe, however, that these discrepancies will change rapidly in the next years as the trend toward new forms of access deals between nations, institutions, and publishing houses pushes the dial more toward payment for future publication by libraries and institutions.

There will be challenges for us as an editorial team with some changes in terms of article processing, and there will be many questions for us to respond to. If you have concerns questions or comments, we would be delighted to hear from you and we can provide very specific responses, tailored to the nation and the institution where you are conducting research and your situation as a researcher. We will do our best, and where needed we will adjust our approach to ensure that this transition is highly successful. I look forward to your manuscripts and to the promising future of an ever‐improving JWAS and to an exciting new year after the many challenges of 2020 for us all.

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About Mattthew J. Slater

Matt Slater is the Head of the Aquaculture Research Group at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven, Germany.

Matt’s research on integrated aquaculture, the societal and economic importance of aquaculture and the value of low-trophic species in aquaculture is widely cited internationally. As a leader of a department within a large European institute for applied marine sciences, Matt enjoys motivating diverse groups of researchers to work together towards common strategic goals. He aims to bring these same leadership qualities to planning and further implementing agreed steps to re-invigorate and advance the success of JWAS.

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