Ask the Editor:
Professor Marcos von Sperling, Editor of Journal of Water, Sanitation & Hygiene for Development
Why is the Journal of Water, Sanitation & Hygiene for Development (WaSHDev) important to the field?
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) are essential elements in everyone’s life. While in many regions of the world the provision of these elements is consolidated for many decades, in vast areas of the globe they still remain a dream to be achieved, and infrastructure needs to be implemented or substantially improved. The solution demands not only a sound and appropriate technology, but also an understanding of the behaviour and needs of the populations involved. Addressing social, economic and technological issues in an integrated manner is not easy, and any proposed solution that does not take them into account is prone to failure.
WaSHDev aims at covering these essential elements for the adequate provision of water, sanitation and hygiene from a practical and useful view, but safeguarded by the sound scientific approaches required for publications at a top level journal. Its main focus is on developing regions that usually are less covered in scientific publications, and are exactly the regions that demand most in terms of infrastructure.
In my opinion, impact factors are important metrics for evaluating the relative degree of success of a scientific journal. But WaSHDev goes much beyond this, and its main commitment is on the usefulness of the articles published, especially taking into account the developing world. The articles are there to be read and discussed and serve as sources for actual and successful implementation of solutions, all of this backed by deep scientific principles and rigorous peer-reviewing.
What ongoing/upcoming trend or development do you think will be a game changer for the field?
The field covered by the journal is very broad and there are substantial challenges to be dealt with in the WaSH area. An essential element in future developments in this field is the recognition that successful solutions are not only technological, but require the integration with economic and social aspects, without which they will not achieve their goal.
What key piece of advice would you give to first time authors?
Authors should realize that publishing should not be an obligation to comply with academic requirements from research institutions – publishing should be a pleasure. Also, publishing should not be only to improve one’s curriculum vitae – publishing should aim at transferring to the public important and useful information that is likely to help development in the area. Furthermore, all the elements in the submission and publishing processes allow the personal and scientific development of the authors. Having a paper accepted is great, but having a submission with the requirement of substantial changes or even rejection is part of a process that helps us to reflect, ponder, and eventually become better researchers in our field.
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