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A good start – but time for new leadership in the editorship of the Journal of Ecohydraulics

Author(s): Paul S. Kemp; Christos Katopodis

Linked Author(s): Paul Kemp, Christos Katopodis

Keywords: No Keywords

Abstract: After five years at the helm since being appointed as founding Editors-in-Chief (EIC) of the new Journal of Ecohydraulics (TJoE) in 2015, it is time for both of us to move on. Since the announcement made at the 2015 IAHR World Congress (Delft - The Hague, The Netherlands), that TJoE will join the suite of publications hosted by this worldwide independent organisation of engineers, scientists, specialists and practitioners, we have seen the journal grow to be the leading outlet for those engaged in ecohydraulic endeavours. Ecohydraulics is a newer section of IAHR, which brought enthusiasm for interdisciplinary work, with emphasis on ecological aspects integrated with hydraulics and hydro-environmental sciences. The first international symposium on Ecohydraulics (ISE) was in 1994 (Trondheim, Norway) and successful biennial ISEs have been organized ever since, which continue to engage ecologists, biologists, environmental, social and climate change scientists, in addition to hydraulic and environmental engineers, hydrologists, geomorphologists, fluid mechanics and ice specialists, water resource managers, regulators and policy makers, natural resource managers, and conservationists. Ecohydraulic sessions have also energized IAHR World Congresses, especially since 2009 (Vancouver, Canada). Since its birth in 1935, IAHR continues to evolve by serving and connecting an international community of dedicated people, embracing newer fields, such as Ecohydraulics, and providing a platform for a portfolio of journals, including TJoE. Euphoria characterized the introduction of the inaugural double issue in the fall of 2016, with two issues per year published since, for a total of 54 printed articles (average acceptance rate ∼50%), and nine editorials, including this issue. The Journal of Ecohydraulics has exceeded its annual printed page limit in the last two years, and has accumulated a healthy backlog of articles published online. We were delighted after the hard work of developing the aims and scope, arranging a set of well-known Associate Editors, setting-up the journal review systems, and receiving advice on the mechanics of publishing. Several Special Issues in different journals have been published from ISEs, so a “home” journal was much needed, and cultivated organically. TJoE serves this purpose and ISEs were instrumental in launching and supporting it. Over the last four years ISEs have contributed most published articles, including a Special Issue in 2019 and at least another in 2020, despite the cancellation of ISE2020. The ethos of the Journal of Ecohydraulics is to inspire epistemology and leading-edge research with emphasis on interdisciplinary integration. We have approached groups outside IAHR, as we recognize that the “Ecohydraulic Community” is wide and a range of diverse activities in several other societies fall under this interdisciplinary field. An example is the ASCE (EWRI) – AFS (BES – Bioengineering Section) Joint Committee on Fisheries Engineering & Science which organizes annual conferences. We have been able to attract submissions for TJoE, and the 2018 conference contributed a Special Issue in 2019 while the 2020 conference, although cancelled, has a special segment in this issue. There are other conferences and societies that we have and continue to approach, seeking various ecohydraulic themes. Such conferences are within IAHR (e.g. RiverFlow, Ice workshops and symposia) or many other organizations (e.g. ISRS – International Society for River Science). This is in-line with IAHR aims to provide an excellent basis for co-operation with other water-related associations. In 2020 the Journal of Ecohydraulics marks a transition as a new EIC is scheduled to start in January 2021. The rotation of EICs is well established for all IAHR journals, and provides an opportunity to renew and advance TJoE aims. We have been guided all along by what is best for the journal and we are keen to assist the new EIC in an advisory capacity and so ensure a smooth transition. We are pleased to have helped TJoE get off the ground, have devoted a great deal of voluntary time, have worked hard to establish this new journal, and thus have a strong emotional attachment to this endeavor and the future of the discipline. It has been challenging and fun. We recognized right from the start, that a Sci Index and an Impact Factor for TJoE would assist greatly, so we have pursued this with advice from several sources, including the publisher. This reflects aspirations for quality and relevance for all IAHR journals. We have prepared the ground for this, TJoE is at the cusp of a successful application process, and we will be elated when it is achieved. We do have a few final remarks on the need to protect and nurture interdisciplinarity, so essential to the field of Ecohydraulics, and particularly among earlier career researchers and practitioners. It is important to acknowledge that scientists and engineers are typically trained to become specialists, and many seldom, if ever, venture into other realms outside of their core disciplines. This is reinforced, especially in researchers, who are required to seek funding from bodies that typically represent traditional disciplines, and made worse still for those that embark on an interdisciplinary project, to only find that the results are difficult to disseminate through specialist conferences and journals, governed by unidisciplinary organising committees and editorial boards. There exist multiple impediments to interdisciplinarity for researchers, ranging from a disinclination to collaborate with those outside of their fields because they may be too busy with focused pursuits, fail to see the academic value, or fear that departure from their traditional trajectories could be damaging to their careers. However, for others, the benefits of interdisciplinarity may not become apparent until later in their careers, when it may then be difficult to “discipline hop” without sufficient funding streams and support, i.e. people become trapped in a sphere of conditioned unidisciplinary conservatism. In light of this, we must endeavour to promote interdisciplinarity by removing the barriers to the dissemination of interdisciplinary research and practice for those willing to publish new findings, science-based assessments or innovative case studies. The editors of many journals might find it difficult to accommodate interdisciplinary submissions because they struggle to find reviewers with appropriate expertise. A strong editor of an interdisciplinary journal must have the experience and confidence in handling such submissions and have the ability to see the value of the work, in spite of what may be conflicting reviews from specialists. Mechanistic approaches, such as those adopted by other journals in an effort to achieve a robust and fair process of demand management would, in our opinion, not be appropriate for TJoE. It would only act as a further disincentive for those whose submissions are rejected in the face of one poor review, or have their manuscript returned without review, having had it deemed outside of the journal remit. While quality remains the paramount driver, greater care is needed to understand the weaknesses and pitfalls of a peer review process that often requires the invitation of specialists to evaluate the results of intrinsically interdisciplinary work. We were mindful of these aspects during our tenure as EICs for the Journal of Ecohydraulics. TJoE thrives with the support of the wider community of authors and reviewers, and the team of highly dedicated and very experienced advisory and assistant editors; we are confident this, as well as the emphasis on interdisciplinarity, will continue. We would like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to so many who contributed since 2015 and bid everyone “adieu.”


Year: 2020

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