Where are female academic journal board members?

In the process of launching a new journal in social sciences at De Gruyter, an interesting and disconcerting statistic came to light.

A Blog Article by Beata Socha.

As part of assembling an editorial board for the journal, an equal number of invitations was sent to male and female academics in its field. However, nearly all the scholars who accepted the invitations turned out to be men. To give exact numbers: over 15% of men who received invitations accepted them, whereas only 1% of women did.

The trend seems to be universal: when we look at editorial board members across all disciplines, from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to humanities, men account for their vast majority. It’s not that women ignore invitations, as exactly the same number of replies came from both sexes, all of them very cordial. However, the vast majority of female academics stated that they were too busy to take up additional responsibility.

There’s no doubt that top academics have plenty of duties on their plates, such as supervising PhD candidates, teaching, carrying out research, procuring grants. For some reason, however, men tend to be more open to taking on additional functions. When push comes to shove, they may later simply say that they’re too busy and cannot do the job. Perhaps the reason women are reluctant to take on more is because they don’t want to be forced to shirk the responsibilities they’ve already agreed on. Or they are possibly more overworked because they delegate less. Maybe they simply care less about the additional titles and self-promotion. Or perhaps they are just more cautious. The only woman who has accepted the invitation to the said journal stated that initially she was undecided, but then she saw the name of one of her close friends on the board, which has convinced her to join it.

At a conference organized by Success Written in Lipstick Foundation in November 2017, a female business executive, Kamila Kaliszyk directing Mastercard operations in Poland, said that, “When men hear there is an opening for a more senior position, they jump on the opportunity: ‘Sure, I’m in.’ Meanwhile, a woman stops to think: ‘Am I good enough? Do I have the proper qualifications and experience?’” It seems that academia is not that much different from business in that respect.

That leaves publishers with a bit of a conundrum as to whether parity, e.g., as far as the issue of editorial board composition is concerned, should be maintained at all cost. If women are to be more represented at advisory or editorial boards, they will have to be investing significantly more work into their journal engagements, given the low response rates among female scholars.

Yet the alternative – of having nearly exclusively male editorial boards – seems to be hardly acceptable. In Norway, all publicly listed companies ought to have at least 40% of women on their boards of directors. If they fail to meet this requirement, these corporations risk being delisted.

This quota policy seems to be enjoying remarkable success, as currently 42% of all boards of directors’ members in Norway are female.

Despite mixed market reactions to this mandated change, prior studies have found no significant link between the gender composition of corporate boards and firm performance, such as in Denmark.

Why is the world of academia so reluctant to follow suit?

Written by Beata Socha.

Edited by Pablo Markin.

Featured Image Credits: GA72 – UN Global Compact Leaders Summit, United Nations, New York, NY, USA, September 21, 2017 | © Courtesy of Ryan Brown/UN Women/Flickr.

This article has originally appeared in OpenScience, 08/03/2018, http://openscience.com/where-are-female-academic-journal-board-members/.

Hélder Santos, the Editor-in-Chief of Open Material Sciences, Explains the Rationale Behind the Newly Launched Journal

In early 2018, De Gruyter has launched Open Material Sciences, an Open Access, peer-reviewed journal that aims to publish latest research concerning organic, inorganic, composite, biomedical and biological materials, such as ceramics or polymers. Ewa Chmielewska and Pablo Markin have interviewed its Editor-in-Chief on this occasion.

A Blog Interview by Ewa Chmielewska and Pablo Markin.

While leading the Nanomedicines and Biomedical Engineering Lab at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki, Finland, Prof. Hélder Santos also serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the newly launched journal. Ewa Chmielewska, De Gruyter Open Access, acts as its Managing Editor. In this connection, jointly with Chmielewska, Pablo Markin has arranged for an interview with Prof. Santos.

At present, Prof. Santos holds multiple associate professor, head of division, group leader and director of the doctoral program positions in drug research in the areas of pharmaceutical nanotechnology and biomedical engineering at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki. Prof. Santos has produced over 220 highly cited and high-impact scientific publications in prestigious peer-reviewed journals. In recent years, he has been receiving numerous international prizes, research awards and research funds.

In addition to his multidisciplinary research collaboration engagements, such as in nanomedicine, Prof. Santos has been acting as a guest editor, journal referee, application evaluator, editor and editorial board member for numerous organizations and journals.

Ewa Chmielewska and Pablo Markin: Could you present your area of research and your editorial experience?

Hélder Santos: My research area relates to nanomaterials, including nanoporous silica and/or silicon materials and polymeric-based nanoparticles for controlled drug delivery. The aim of my research group is to develop nanoparticles and/or nanomedicines for biomedical and healthcare applications. My work is multidisciplinary, similar to our new journal, and serves as a bridge between engineering, pharmaceutical and medical research.

I have acted as Editorial Board Member for several peer-reviewed journals, e.g., Drug Delivery Letters, Biomatter, International Journal of Nanotechnology and Nanoscience, Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology, World Journal of Pharmacology, and Journal of Biopharmaceutics and Biotechnology. Moreover, I was the founder and Editor of the Mesoporous Biomaterials journal published by De Gruyter since 2013. Also, I am an Academic Editor for BioMed Research International, Journal of Healthcare Engineering, and PLOS ONE journals.

Ewa Chmielewska and Pablo Markin: Why have you agreed to be involved in this project?

Hélder Santos: I was highly excited by this opportunity and appreciated the idea of the project very much from the beginning, because this is a great opportunity to raise the level of scientific discourse in such a multidisciplinary research area, and the possibility to provide our authors or contributors the opportunity to reach a large audience with very timely research topics in materials science. It was rather easy to give my consent to such an interesting and exciting project.

Ewa Chmielewska and Pablo Markin: What will be the main focus and purpose of the journal to be launched?

Hélder Santos: We expect to be receiving academic papers of very high quality in different formats hailing from different areas of research within the field of materials science. This will include, for example, the material-related aspects of research ranging from fabrication to characterization, but also the biological aspects, such as their biological and biomedical applications.

Ewa Chmielewska and Pablo Markin: Given that Open Material Sciences is based on an Open Access model, could please you tell how do you perceive the benefits of Open Access publishing?

Hélder Santos: Open access is crucial to make science available to everyone without any limitations and barriers. This is very important for the progress of science in the world.

Ewa Chmielewska and Pablo Markin: What will be the challenges with maintaining the journal and growing its readership over the next few years?

Hélder Santos: The most primary and important ones for the next years are to build-up a first-rate editorial advisory board with outstanding scientists in the field as its members and also to attract excellent contributions from leading scientists in different research areas to our journal. Likewise, the editorial team behind the journal has to spread the news about our launch and get to wider readership audiences, to make our journal a leading one in this research field, while having a wider impact in the larger society.

Ewa Chmielewska and Pablo Markin: Why should researchers submit their manuscripts to Open Material Sciences, in your opinion?

Hélder Santos: Open Material Sciences is different from other scientific periodicals, because our journal covers theoretical and experimental papers on all aspects ranging from fundamental sciences to commercial applications, such as those concerning biological and biomedical materials, metals, ceramics and glasses, polymers, electrical, optical and magnetic materials, fibers and composite materials, nanostructured materials and nanocomposites, and related fields in materials sciences and biomedical engineering. In addition, in this journal all articles are available to read, download and share for free. This is very important for the scientific community, to be able to have access to science without any restrictions.

By Ewa Chmielewska and Pablo Markin.

Featured Image Credits: TEDMED 2013 Review, JFK Center, Washington, DC, USA, April 17, 2013 | © Courtesy of Juhan Sonin/Flickr.

This article has originally appeared in OpenScience, 14/02/2018, http://openscience.com/helder-santos-the-editor-in-chief-of-open-material-sciences-explains-the-rationale-behind-the-newly-launched-journal/.

Open Access Journals Can Further Mathematical Research Behind Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Revolutions

Though blockchain and crypto-currencies have been receiving growing media attention, such as due to their financial applications and performance respectively, their mathematical foundations may be underappreciated. Open Access is not only integral to these technologies, but can also contribute to their development, such as via cutting-edge research published in Open Access mathematics journals.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.

While the blockchain revolution unfurls in many locations around the world, such as Portugal, its underlying technological infrastructure, e.g., blockchains, is accessible to all and relies on mathematical formulas and complex algorithms, such as in the field of cryptography, for its self-regulation. More specifically, latest blockchain-based technologies, such as smart contracts, integrate elements of artificial intelligence into their networks, in order to automate decision-making across a wide variety of fields amenable to the implementation of blockchain solutions, such as logistics, finance and transportation. Moreover, blockchains generate their tokens based on the computationally demanding solutions to mathematical problems using blockchain-specific algorithms and parameters.

As Soler-Dominguez et al. argue in their paper published in April 2017, metaheuristics, as an area of mathematics, can assist in the development of algorithmic solutions for optimization problems in the domains of banking and finance, such as for the purposes of credit risk assessment, financial portfolio optimization and stock exchange investment. Metaheuristics-based algorithms can also be expected to be helpful for optimization tasks in the real-life conditions of uncertainty. Likewise, early research on bitcoin has indicated the usefulness of metaheuristics for the efficient handling of blockchain networks, as the contribution of Peter Taylor to a 2014 scientific report on metaheuristics and exact methods in the domain of combinatorial optimization suggests.

Moreover, metaheuristics can be used in cryptography applications in dynamic and hybrid operational environments, due to their capability to optimize underlying algorithms and digital systems. Likewise, metaheuristics can assist with securing smart contracts and their blockchain-based applications, such as those that the Ethereum platform enables. This also applies to the Internet of Things as an emergent paradigm in industrial manufacturing that seeks to utilize automation, digital technologies and autonomous sensing environments in a variety of domains.

In this respect, Open Mathematics has been publishing in Open Access several special issues on metaheuristics as an emergent area of scientific research with likely industrial applications, theoretical relevance for related algorithmic developments and yet unsolved research challenges. Additionally, as publications in this area indicate, metaheuristics is likely to contribute to the development of artificial intelligence algorithms, combinatorial optimization tasks and machine learning applications.

Thus, as the scope of blockchain applications will expand, it can be expected that articles published in Open Access journals and repositories will contribute to the furthering of scientific research behind crypto-token technologies.

By Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: Heuristic Algorithmic, August 4, 2013 | © Courtesy of Christopher Brown.

This article has originally appeared in OpenScience, 31/01/2018, http://openscience.com/open-access-journals-can-further-mathematical-research-behind-blockchain-and-cryptocurrency-revolutions/.

An Interview with Francesco Stoppa on a Geoscience Article Dealing with the Volcanic Activity of Vesuvius

In early 2017, Open Geosciences has published Stoppa et al.’s research results on the historical eruption of Vesuvius in 1631, in which a novel, simplified model of its volcanic activity has been proposed.

A Blog Interview by Pablo Markin.

While the model proposed by Stoppa et al. (2017) can help predict future volcanic eruptions and explains those that have occurred in the past, it also makes a contribution to the theorization of how volcanoes work.

Furthermore, as Prof Karoly Nemeth from the Institute of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University, Palmnerston North, New Zealand, indicates “Vesuvius is in general a reference volcano in many aspects in volcanology holding probably one of the most complete and best studied eruptive record of a single volcano on Earth. The 1631 eruption has produced a complete tephra sequence this article documents excellently from chemical aspects and proposed a new and innovative model to demonstrate that a chemically layered magma feeding system must exist below the volcano. The paper brilliantly summes up the fine details from seismic record to chemical data to demonstrate the potential effect of mafic refilling to an evolving magma chamber gradually “destabilising” it to trigger volcanic eruption. [One can h]ighly recommend this article to anyone wishing to read a multidisciplinary approach to understanding volcanci processes from a volcanic hazard aspect.”

Though for this study a group of authors have collaborated, Pablo Markin has conducted an interview with Francesco Stoppa, as one of principal researchers, to gain a behind-the-scenes perspective on the scientific work done during geological survey and samples collection.

Vesuvius on fire, Italy, July 13, 2017 | © Courtesy of European Space Agency.
Vesuvius on fire, Italy, July 13, 2017 | © Courtesy of European Space Agency.

Pablo Markin (PM): What were the theoretical, empirical and methodological challenges that this research topic has involved?

Francesco Stoppa (FS): We think that a geological model must follow a linear logic, it may be complex but it should not be overly complicated. If one needs to complicate it, to solve the pattern of causal interrelations, that model probably is not realistic. We believe that the field geology is the primary answer to the research question of this article and that theoretical models can only be confirmed by studying volcanic deposits and volcano behaviour. Nature is repetitive within certain limits. The biggest challenge for us was to find a theoretical model that would fit the field research data. It took us an amazingly long time to arrive at an extraordinarily simple model.

PM: How unique is Vesuvius as a research site both historically and internationally in terms of its geological activity?

FS: Vesuvius behaves like all volcanoes. It does not have its own character or activity profile but it can exhibit a wide range of geological behaviour. What makes it unique is its being surrounded by a megalopolis with many millions of inhabitants. The interest for Vesuvius in general culture adds to the particularity of this study. Vesuvius has been the first volcano studied historically. Its study has given rise to important schools of geological thought. The latter are so important that, despite being obsolete, they continue to be espoused. However, science must always overcome itself. Consequently, we have tried to overcome the so-called cow path theories.

PM: Since in your article you propose a simplified model of Vesuvius’s volcanic behavior, do you credit this to your interpretation of new empirical findings or to recent theoretical developments that have ultimately guided your study?

FS: Simple is better than sophisticated. The classic method of stratigraphic observations, that is, the geologically significant behavior of a volcano was important to us. Thus, this study has inquired into the type and distribution in time and space of the eruptions and differences in the composition of the magma emitted, and the change in the volcanic activity’s character from explosive to effusive. While being relatively uncomplicated, these scientific procedures can be highly important if they indicate a pattern of a relatively predictable and repetitive volcanic behavior. The present research team made up of scientists from various scientific organizations and nations has been very useful for overcome each one’s preconceptions. We think that overcoming these preconceptions is the most important thing for the prediction of possible future eruptions of this volcano, which can also save human lives.

PM: What have been the reactions that this article has received in Italy, regionally, e.g., in the European Union, and internationally?

FS: Though this publication has been published relatively recently, so far we have received positive comments. However, I do not think many scholars abandon the old idea that the volcano works like a furnace that digests sedimentary rocks to turn them into magmatic rocks. Certainly, this can be demonstrated on a small scale in the laboratory setting by mixing the most varied ingredients and providing a lot of energy from the outside. This type of experiments only validates itself, rather than what happens under natural conditions. We did not consider it. I am afraid this could be off-putting for many scholars, who are not used to climbing volcanoes.

PM: Given that Open Geosciences is an Open Access journal, what your experience in terms of securing funding, such as for article processing charges, publication workflow and article visibility has been?

FS: It seems to me that we have had a publication experience comparable to that we had with publishing articles in journals in other formats. But given the importance of mitigating the risk of volcanic eruptions, we may be disappointed that only 100 individuals have read the article so far. Perhaps in Italy the Vesuvius problem does not receive serious attention since it seems it is impossible to solve it.

By Pablo Markin

Francesco Stoppa is a tenured professor specializing in petrology and petrography at the Department of Psychological, Health and Territorial Sciences at the Università degli Studi “G.d’Annunzio”, Chieti-Pescara, Italy.

Featured Image Credits: Bay of Naples, Italy, June 4, 2017 | © Courtesy of sarahtarno.

This article has originally appeared in OpenScience, 28/08/2017, http://openscience.com/an-interview-with-francesco-stoppa-on-a-geoscience-article-dealing-with-the-volcanic-activity-of-vesuvius/.

The Directory of Open Access Books’ Growth Accelerates Despite Download Format and License Heterogeneity

As the Directory of Open Access Books has reached 10,000 titles in its catalogue in late 2017, it reflects an accelerated pace at which publishers join this Open Access initiative and make available their books and chapters to international audiences. Yet, only a minor share of these electronic publications is scientific, they entail a wide variety of licensing conditions, and are accessible in a variety of digital formats.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.

In its press release published on November 24, 2017, the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) has celebrated the increasing speed at which it has added new titles the total of which rose from circa 4,000 in 2015 to 6,000 in 2016 and from over 6,000 to more than 10,000 in 2017. In recent years, this accelerating expansion of the DOAB’s catalogue has been matched by the increasingly growing ranks of its supporting publishers that climbed from approximately 130 in 2015 to over 160 in 2016 and from the latter level to almost 250 in 2017, which represents one of its most significant membership growth spurts since 2011. More specifically, in no small part this development is owed to OpenEdition’s addition of approximately 40 Open Access book publishers from its partner network to the DOAB, which has contributed over 2,000 new titles to its directory.

This impressive yearly growth of the DOAB of over 65% and 40% in titles listed and participating publishers for the 2016-2017 period respectively is, thus, a result of the growing adoption of Open Access by scholarly book publishers, such as De Gruyter. As one of DOAB’s sponsors, De Gruyter, whose activity in the Open Access sector dates to 2005, has made available over 1,000 books that either it or its partners publish in Open Access by December 2017. In a whitepaper on the effect of Open Access on the usage of scholarly books authored by Christina Emery, Mithu Lucraft, Agata Morka and Ros Pyne that Springer Nature, another partner of the DOAB, published in November 2017, it is argued that books published in Gold Open Access demonstrate significantly higher performance than non-Open Access publications in terms of chapter downloads, book citations and online mentions.

Moreover, as qualitative empirical results also published in the whitepaper indicate, both book authors and funders particularly prize the visibility and dissemination benefits Open Access affords as not only a publishing model, but also a means for ensuring the universal accessibility of knowledge. Nevertheless, in their research paper on scientific e-books in the DOAB published in May 2017, Vanita Khanchandani and Moveen Kumar indicate that this directory contained only 1,057 scientific books in various digital formats by May 2016. In other words, in 2016 only slightly less than 1 in 6 electronic books in the DOAB have been published in health sciences, biology, life sciences, technology, engineering, earth and environmental sciences, agriculture and food sciences, mathematics and statistics, and physics, chemistry and astronomy. Additionally, in 2016 the books that the DOAB catalogues were accessible via 11 different access licenses with circa 50% published under the Creative Commons BY (attribution alone) license, which can restrict the licensing terms under which their contents are redistributed or shared.

Likewise, the formats in which these Open Access books can be accessed via the DOAB vary significantly, such as from links to their Google Books versions, PDF file downloads, and HTML chapter access, which can limit the extent to which some of these books can be read on electronic readers, e.g. in the Epub format.

While the DOAB makes a growing contribution to the distribution of Open Access books, enjoys the growing support of publishers and funders and benefits from the increasing preference for Open Access by scientific authors, it remains marked by book access and license heterogeneity as a consequence of its growth.

By Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles CA, USA, January 6, 2013 | © Courtesy of Omar Bárcena.

This article has originally appeared in OpenScience, 04/12/2017, http://openscience.com/the-directory-of-open-access-books-accelerates-its-growth-despite-download-format-and-access-license-heterogeneity/.

Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "The Directory of Open Access Books’ Growth Accelerates Despite Download Format and License Heterogeneity," in De Gruyter Open Access, 04/12/2017, https://dgo.hypotheses.org/22.

Recent Findings Indicate Multiple Models for Flipping Scientific Journals into Various Open Access Forms Exist

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-11-08
URL: http://openscience.com/recent-findings-indicate-that-multiple-models-for-flipping-scientific-journals-into-various-forms-of-open-access-exist/

Though converting scholarly journals into Open Access continues to involve financial uncertainty, a Harvard-funded report shows that thousands of journals have flipped into Open Access in recent years through a variety of approaches.


In their study first published on September 19, 2016, Mikael Laakso, David Solomon and Bo-Christer Björk have conducted a multi-method inquiry based on expert interviews, empirical data and secondary sources into various strategies for the conversion of scientific journals into Open Access. Their main conclusion is that toward making a transition to Open Access no single optimal path exists, as subscription-based journals need to decide which of multiple solutions will work for their situation as sustainable Open Access platforms. Laakso, Solomon and Björk’s research has been done with the support of the Harvard Library’s Office for Scholarly Communication that has sought to explore the economic and other implications of transitioning to Open Access models for universities.

Whereas in 2011 circa 2,400 scholarly journals have been flipped into Open Access after zero-cost digital journal distribution has become technically feasible, the funding models behind these transitions to Open Access have, however, remained under-researched. For this reason, Laakso et al.’s 2016 research report, the full version of which is hosted at Harvard’s publication repository, fills an important gap in scholarly literature, as it indicates that in recent decades those journals that have switched to Open Access and have decided not to charge subscription fees have enjoyed the support of national or regional Open Access portal, such as Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO), while broadly utilizing open source software, such as Open Journal Systems(OJS).

By Pablo Markin

The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

Featured Image Credits: Adams House, Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA, May 31, 2008 | © Courtesy of Paul Lowry.

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A Special Issue of Open Archaeology on Non-Professional Metal-Detecting

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-04-10
URL: http://openscience.com/a-special-issue-of-open-archaeology-on-non-professional-metal-detecting/

In 2016, the Open Access Journal Open Archaeology produced a collection of topical articles on the status of metal-detecting for other than scientific reasons in different European countries.


As this issue of Open Archaeology shows, metal-detecting by non-professionals can be acceptable to varying degrees across Europe, since it can also serve non-public interest, such as the antiquities trade. In this respect, the archaeological community is hard pressed to deal with this phenomenon, both due to the presence of divergent regulatory regimes in different countries and given the importance of amateur finds to the furthering of academic knowledge and the democratisation of archaeology.

As this journal issue, and especially Natasha Ferguson’s article, highlights, non-professional metal-detecting is endemic, as it occurs across European countries regardless of its legal status or regulatory frameworks. Nevertheless, the journal’s articles indicate that an emerging consensus on the need for the development of shared, cross-national policy approaches to the handling of non-professional metal-detecting practices and the resulting collections of finds exists, as Pieterjan Deckers, Michael Lewis and Suzie Thomas discuss in their editorial.

By Pablo Markin

The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

Featured Image Credits: Socketed object, Roman? | © Courtesy of ISLAND 2000 TRUST.

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How Much Do Top Publishers Charge for Open Access?

Author: Beata Socha
Published Online: 2017-04-20
URL: http://openscience.com/how-much-do-top-publishers-charge-for-open-access/

As Open Access is making ever increasing waves in the academic publishing business, top publishers are determined not to lose their bearing.


The big four players in the publishing industry, e.g., Elsevier, Springer, Wiley and Taylor & Francis, have all embraced Open Access (OA), albeit to varying degrees. They have also employed highly different strategies as to how much they would like to charge their authors. If one is an author looking for a venue to publish his or her research in Open Access, it could be useful to know what the publishing market has to offer and what range of prices exists. […]

Elsevier and Springer have been making strides in the world of Open Access. Each of them has a sizable portfolio of OA journals. Elsevier has around 500 titles, Springer a little over 530, more than half of which were incorporated into their portfolio through the acquisition of BioMed Central in 2008. For both of these market leaders, OA journals make for nearly 20% of their entire portfolios. […]

Germany-based De Gruyter, which also has a sizable Open Access portfolio, has a remarkably uniform pricing structure. For its own journals, it charges three rates: €1,500 for Medical and Life Sciences journals, €500 for Humanities and €1,000 for remaining disciplines.

By Beata Socha

The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

Featured Image Credits: MIT+150: FAST (Festival of Art + Science + Technology): FAST LIGHT — Man studying alone on his Macbook at the library, May 8, 2011 | © Chris Devers.

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