University of Ottawa biology professor Jules Blais is the founding editor-in-chief of FACETS, the first and only multidisciplinary open access science journal in Canada. The publication was recently named the official journal of the Royal Society of Canada’s Academy of Science, the first time the Society has endorsed a journal in its 135-year history. Professor Blais talks about the meaning of this distinction.
Can you briefly describe FACETS and its affiliation with the University of Ottawa?
FACETS was launched in 2016 and is published by Canadian Science Publishing, the not-for-profit publisher of the original NRC Research Press suite of journals. While FACETS is a truly international journal with international submissions and editors, it was built with the Canadian researcher in mind and accepts submissions in French and English. It offers a wide variety of paper types, including a Science Applications Forum to discuss the impact of scientific research on society. As a pioneering Canadian journal, FACETS is naturally linked to the University of Ottawa, a bilingual university at the heart of Canada’s capital. In addition to its founding editor-in-chief, many of its subject editors are professors at the University, a natural environment for a bilingual science journal.
FACETS is now the official journal of the Royal Society of Canada’s Academy of Science. What does that mean for the publication?
The Royal Society of Canada’s Academy of Science is the most respected organization of scientists in Canada. Our partnership marks a historic milestone for academic publishing in the country: it is the first time the Royal Society of Canada has endorsed a journal in its 135-year history, which speaks to the quality of FACETS, its editorial board, its publishing process and its publisher. This appointment signals the need for scientists and their national academies to work together to solve problems facing the world. I am also pleased that this historic achievement was made in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary.
Why did you help found this journal?
FACETS was the inspiration following extensive consultations with researchers and stakeholders at a time when researchers were aiming to publish more of their work as open access and funders were requiring open access to published research. We felt that an interdisciplinary journal was an ideal venue to discuss not only the latest research, but also the impact of research on society. Until FACETS came along, there was no forum in the scientific literature with a lens on Canadian issues. FACETS was intended to fill this void.
Why did you choose the open access model for FACETS? What does this mean for academic publishing?
Open access makes research available to everyone with an Internet connection. Open access can also serve to expand the reach, influence and relevance of research to the world. For example, a recent FACETS article showed that peer-reviewed scientific journals are the most trusted source of scientific information, but are among the least used by the public. Open access is an effort to break down barriers and bring the most trusted scientific information to all potential readers. We have already seen research in FACETS being adopted in developing countries where researchers have limited access to publications. I believe and hope that open access represents the future of academic publishing.
At a time when there is a lot of talk about predatory academic journals and fake science news, how do you establish and maintain the credibility of a fledgling scholarly publication?
FACETS is published by Canadian Science Publishing, Canada’s premier scientific publisher with 85 years’ experience and a reputation for rigorous standards. The journal has an 83-member editorial board consisting of internationally recognized experts in their fields, and is now endorsed by the Royal Society of Canada’s Academy of Science. In short, FACETS has excellent credentials and will continue to develop as a trusted and accessible reference for its international readership.