An Interview with IWA Publishing’s First Open Access Publisher
Sara Bosshart, Open Access Publisher at IWA Publishing
What brings you to IWA Publishing?
I’ve always loved the water. I grew up in the tropics, so I was pretty much in the water every day - be it the ocean, a pool, or even the rain. I studied earth science in undergrad and after that marine geology in grad school. I’ve always had an active interest in the processes that occur on our planet, so many of which are driven by water.
After graduate school, I worked for Frontiers, one of the fastest growing open access (OA) publishers and a true pioneer in the field. I was fortunate to join the company in the early days, right at the cusp of their exponential growth. I got to try my hand at almost every aspect of the OA publishing process – launching journals, marketing journals, recruiting editorial boards, product development, sales etc etc. It was a great introduction to the field of open access. I learned a lot, and fast.
When I heard IWA Publishing was planning to expand their OA portfolio and hire an Open Access Publisher, it sounded like a perfect fusion of my interests. I’m incredibly excited to be a part of making more important water-related research OA.
What made you interested in Open Access?
Ironically, I first heard of open access after I finished grad school. Before then, I was lucky to attend institutions that had enough funding for almost any journal paper I was interested in. I rarely hit a paywall, and when I did, I searched for a new article.
I ‘discovered’ OA while preparing a job application. As part of the process, I was asked to summarize the pros and cons of open access. The essay question had, what I can only assume was the desired effect – to make me a firm advocate of the cause. Years later, I still struggle to come up with true cons. Who doesn’t want free, unrestricted access to cutting edge research? Why wouldn’t we want to openly share our most exciting discoveries?
I firmly believe that OA to research has the potential to accelerate scientific discovery and our understanding of the universe. Take, for instance, Jack Andrakas who, at 16 discovered, a breakthrough cancer diagnostic through his ability to freely access relevant literature. How cool is that.
So, what are your plans for IWAP and Open Access?
So many! The great thing about this job is that there is so much potential. IWAP has already launched one entirely OA journal, H2Open (previously IWA Open Water Journal), and transitioned another, Journal of Water Reuse and Desalination, to OA.
I plan to make it as easy and attractive as possible for authors to publish OA with us. Part of this will involve setting up new institutional agreements. Another part is getting the word out there that we are on the OA scene. Yet another is ensuring that we meet authors’ needs when it comes to OA options to publish. We hope to expand our fully OA portfolio. We also hope to encourage more authors to publish their books OA.
Do you have any advice for authors considering the option to publish OA?
Yes – check first if your funding body has OA grants. Many do. If you’re in Europe, it’s highly likely that your institution may also have funds set aside for authors to publish OA – ask your librarians.
If you’re from any country listed on Research for Life’s A list, you automatically qualify to publish OA with us for free. Lastly, don’t let article processing charges stand in your way if you really want to publish OA. Talk to your publisher, they may have advice or a waiver program in place.
This year, Open Access week’s theme centres around the hashtag ‘#openinorderto’. What would be your #openinorderto?
Open in order to make a difference.