Next in Scholastica’s “How We Open Knowledge” series in honor of Open Access (OA) Week 2021, we welcome to the blog, Anne Oberlink, Senior Research Scientist at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) and Editor-in-Chief of Coal Combustion and Gasification Products. In the below interview, she discusses how the Diamond OA journal got started with the support of CAER and the American Coal Ash Association. Dave Melanson, UK CAER’s Assistant Director for External Affairs and Development, also helped contribute to this interview. CCGP uses Scholastica’s peer review software and OA publishing platform.

Thanks to Oberlink and Melanson for taking the time to be a part of this series! We invite you to join the conversation around approaches to more equitable and sustainable OA publishing by sharing your thoughts and examples of other fully-OA journal models in the comments section below and on Twitter using the hashtags #OAWeek and #HowWeOpenKnowledge.

Can you share a brief overview of Coal Combustion and Gasification Products’ OA publishing model? How have you been able to keep the journal fully OA?

The CCGP journal has always been an OA journal. It was put together through UK CAER and ACAA with the idea that we could deliver a free, international peer-reviewed, online journal encompassing the science and technology of the production, sustainable utilization, testing, and environmentally sound handling of coal combustion byproducts.

We believe that the CCGP journal should be open to everyone. Open access to good, honest, and trustworthy information is the great equalizer in the world. Once we all have the same information, it allows us to make better decisions as a global community.

How are you factoring matters of structural equity and DEI into journal development?

Access is the biggest way in which we provide structural equity. Ensuring the journal is open to all, no matter their background, ethnicity, gender, geographic location, etc., helps ensure that our content is accessible to all. Second, we work hard to recruit new authors all the time. We are constantly reaching out to engage new scientists and industry members to submit articles, and we always try to do so in a way that is inclusive.

Could you share a bit about how you’ve gone about recruiting new authors for CCGP?

Recruiting new authors for a small OA journal is hard. I send out lots and lots of emails, and I try to take advantage of registration lists I would get from attending and/or hosting a workshop or conference. I also rely heavily on our reviewers and our editorial board to help recruit and publish.

What advice do you have for scholarly organizations that want to develop and promote more equitable OA journal models?

My advice would be to keep going and reach out far and wide to possible authors.

The sustainability of OA publishing is not without its hardships — it’s difficult to compete with the large, very well-known journals out there. But all we can do is try our best, take advantage of the tools that we have at our disposal, and ask the people around us to help recruit, recruit, recruit. Also, if you have a chance to work with a solid multimedia/communications person that helps immensely. I’ve been lucky enough to get to work with two really great multimedia/communications people at UK CAER (Thomas Pinkerton and Kevin Puckett) that are so talented and creative. As a scientist, I seem to have lost my creative gene somewhere, but getting to work with Kevin and Thomas has really been instrumental in helping move the journal forward and keeping it fresh and up to date. It’s really a privilege to get to work with people that can take an idea and turn it into reality.

As far as publishing costs, I review our numbers every year, if not more often. I would say don’t be afraid to shop around and talk to different publishers/typesetters. There are options out there — don’t be afraid to take a step back and see if maybe one of them is a better fit for you and your journal. Finding a good fit is imperative. Quick response times and the ability and willingness to help out the editors/journal are very important when it comes to publishing. Overall, this will also help to keep costs down, while your journal is flourishing with excellent articles.

Check out the next post in the “How We Open Knowledge” series — an interview with Dr. David Levinson founding Editor-in-Chief of Findings!

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