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A short Q&A with our Editor-in-Chief, Marcus Grant

We sat down with Marcus Grant, Editor-in-Chief of Cities & Health, to better understand the journal, the kind of research the journal publishes, how the journal helps authors to make an impact with their research and where Marcus sees the journal in the coming years. Here is what he had to say.

Firstly, can you give us a bit of background to the journal and the kind of research Cities & Health publishes?

  • Cities & Health has been established in response to the rapidly emerging consensus that we need to look to our cities for solutions to the current and future challenges posing risks to both population and planetary health. We welcome a broad range of contributions to the knowledge base. This means in addition to original research, which may be empirical, methodological or conceptual, we also accept evidence reviews, reflective think-pieces and commentary. We also encourage scholarly work based on travelogues and enquiry through spatial design and its analysis.

And why did you launch the journal? What need did you feel there was in the community for the journal?

  • Through collaborating on projects, participating at conferences and writing research, several practitioners and researchers have come together to create this trans-disciplinary journal. We were all working in disparate disciplines and professions focusing on cities, and felt the call of supporting, people’s health and sustainable development pulling us together. 

Have there been any exciting developments with the journal recently?

  • Yes, in additional to a lively submission stream for our regular issues, we are responding to demand and are in various stages of planning and producing some exciting special issues together with external partners. We will shortly be publishing a ‘Child Friendly Cities’ issue in partnership with the consultancy ARUP.  A ‘Sound and the Healthy City’ issue is also in production with ALD (the working group on noise of the Acoustical Society of Germany), the Health Environment Institute of Berlin and The Quiet Coalition. We have just opened a call for an issue focussing on city health futures and are also working on geographically based issue focussing on the global South.

How do you think you have managed to achieve this?

  • The rapid emergence of our journal is evidence that it has struck a chord with practitioners and researchers. The unique element is our ‘research for city practice’ stance. We are trying wherever we can to establish a two-way conversation between academics, lay project workers and communities and professionals working in, and with, cities. This is a tall order, and it is still very much in development. Currently a popular element is our innovative ‘City Know-how’ material – written with the research community to help communicate with those who can use the research results to make a difference.

Where do you see Cities & Health in five years’ time? Is there anything you want to achieve?

  • Over the next five years, in addition to establishing the required research quality signifiers, we want to consolidate a reputation for the journal in strengthening the much needed ‘research to policy to implementation’ pathway. This also involves developing a community of practitioners who can speak to and guide city research.     

Do authors see their research making an impact after being published in Cities & Health?

  • Cities & Health aims to develop a close relationship with cities. This allows researchers to test new knowledge for real world impact and accelerate the application of their findings. Unique to this journal is the “Research for city practise” section. The ‘Altmetrics’ figures for our papers show that this type of material is creating a lot of interest in our published research papers.

How do you support authors make this kind of impact?

  • Through the “City Know-how” material authors of original scholarship are asked to provide a one-page lay summary of their papers specifically to illustrate its relevance for the practitioner community and to inform city authorities. We support authors with this process, which is aimed at increasing real world impact. These City Know-how pages, with associated commentary, are free and widely circulated.

How do you think the journal supports the UN’s sustainability goals for Good Health and Wellbeing, Sustainable Cities and Communities, and Partnerships for the Goals?

  • Several of the senior editors working on the journal have been working with the UN and the World Health Organisation in strengthening action on the Sustainable Development Goals in cities, at global, national and municipal levels. The objectives written into SDG3 (Good Health and Wellbeing), SDG11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) can be seen implicitly as cross-cutting themes in through many of our contributions. We are proud to join the widespread community committed supporting progress on these and the many other Sustainable Development Goals that is urgently needed.

Finally, how can authors contribute their research to Cities & Health?

  • If you would link to contribute an article simply follow the link below. Should an author want to find out more about Cities & Health they can review our Aims and Scopes and Instructions for Authors page on our Journal website. Bear in mind, that whether you are a researcher, a practitioner or in any other way involved in this field, we want you to contribute to the debate. We accept a wide range of contributions, full details of which can be found here

Marcus Grant,
Expert Advisor to the World Health Organization, 
[email protected]