Portfolio Manager Dr. Andrew Kelly interviewed Professor Ramesh Singh, Editor-in-Chief of Geomatics, Natural Hazards & Risk, along with two of the journal’s Associate Editors, Professor Tao Xu and Professor Vincenzo Lapenna.
They discussed the benefits of publishing open access for the author and the scientific community, as well as the contents of the journal and how it came into being. They also discussed what advice they would give to early career researchers embarking on their publishing journey.
Read the interview in full, below.
As the Editor-in-Chief and Founding Editor of Geomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk, what was the reason why you wanted to start this journal, especially as it covers a broad scope of geospatial and remote sensing techniques and natural hazards?
In 1980, I published my first paper in the IEEE Tran on Geoscience and Remote Sensing and later, as a Postdoctoral Fellow, I published my papers in Radio Science and Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing. After spending five years in Canada, I joined Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India, and began theoretical studies on the microwave response of different surfaces. After reading the International Journal of Remote Sensing (IJRS) in the IIT Kanpur library, I was very impressed and motivated to publish the results of my studies there. My paper was accepted and, as a young faculty member, I was motivated and excited to publish my paper in such a highly reputable journal and to receive a congratulatory letter from the Chief Editor, Professor Arthur Cracknell. However, at that time, the review process was quite slow, and it took more than a year and half for the paper to be published in print.
I met Professor Arthur Cracknell in person at the 2000 COSPAR Meeting in Warsaw, and he inducted me as an Associate Editor of IJRS shortly thereafter. A few years later, I met a contact at Taylor & Francis at the 33rd International Geological Congress meeting. At length, I discussed the publication delays for accepted papers in IJRS and I was motivated by this discussion and made a proposal to launch Geomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk as a new journal, and the first issue was published in 2010.
Initially TGNH published four issues in a year, and the Journal was first included in the SCIE in 2012, with an Impact Factor of 0.977. We placed particular emphasis on expediting the review process and publishing papers as quickly as possible, whilst providing a rigorous peer-review process. Our authors appreciate the fast decision on their manuscripts and the fast publication of their papers, and the journal slowly attracted an international audience, which has led to the journal receiving its highest ever Impact Factor of 3.333 in 2020.
What are your plans for the journal this year?
I plan to focus on increasing the visibility of the journal at conferences/meetings and among my colleagues.
I would like to promote and support the publishing activities of young research talents within the journal, with particular attention on supporting the research communities in emerging countries.
Our ambition is to publish high quality of papers and expedite the decision on submitted manuscripts, with the aim of publishing accepted papers within six weeks from submission. We are working on upcoming special issues of the journals that cover new developments on all aspects related to natural hazards and risk, particularly for the benefit of young researchers.
What was the most exciting paper that you’ve published in the journal?
I’d say “Weights-of-evidence model applied to landslide susceptibility mapping in a tropical hilly area” by, Biswajeet Pradhan, Hyun-Joo Oh, Manfred Buchroithner. That paper was published in one of our first issues in 2010 and has gone on to be cited more than 100 times.
The application of techniques such as InSAR and GIS to a range of natural hazards, such as landslides and subsidence. I would also particularly welcome papers that undertake stability analyses and risk evaluation of slopes and landslides by using big data or machine learning.
There has been growing attention on combining the opportunities afforded by Earth Observation with the new products and algorithms that are being developed within information technology (e.g., big data, high-performance computing, and machine learning). This new concept of a “Digital Twin Earth” to create an interactive digital replica of our planet that can be used to investigate geophysical and environmental processes is particularly exciting to me.
What are the main challenges currently facing your research community?
The prediction of natural hazards, such as landslides, subsidence, rock bursts, and earthquakes, is an important and urgent need, but is a big research challenge.
As an applied geophysicist, my research community uses advanced geophysical methods to solve engineering, geological and environmental problems. The grand challenge for our research community is to develop new approaches for the mitigation and prevention of natural risks in urban areas. Our strategic objective is to contribute to the development of smart and resilient cities, in line with SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities). The rapid growth in the global population and its concentration in megacities is leading to significant demand for new programs that can prevent and mitigate extreme events in urban areas.
We need high-resolution and real-time ground/satellite data associated with all kinds of natural hazard around the world. However, even if the research community can access satellite data, obtaining ground data of natural hazards is a huge challenge, which we hope can be overcome by the research community coming together and collaborating across borders and different technologies.
What would you say are the benefits for authors from publishing in the journal?
Yes, we aim to provide a fast decision and online publication within six weeks, and our focus encapsulates all kinds of natural hazards and disaster science.
Our journal is fully open access, which means that all of the papers to be easily read, shared and cited without any subscription barriers. We have a strong and growing citation impact and Q1 ranking, and provide a quick turnaround from submission to first decision for our authors (average 46 days in 2020).
As Tao mentioned, our authors can readily promote and share their scientific results with the scientific community without any disciplinary or access barriers.
Are there benefits to the journal being open access? And if so, how does that help authors?
The ability to reach a very wide community is the greatest benefit of open access for us.
Yes, we believe that being a fully open access journal, along with a high Impact Factor, improves our visibility, readership, and citations. The publication periodicity of this journal is shorter than other journals.
The fact that the journal is fully open access means that we can offer the rapid diffusion of new scientific results to the largest possible audience (researchers, industry, practitioners, citizens, students, and policymakers).
What would your advice be to early career researchers?
Don't be afraid of facing complex problems and don't be afraid of scientific failures.
Do not rush to submit your article for publication. Ask your co-authors and colleagues to proof-read the full manuscript and provide their feedback before submitting your paper. Re-reading is essential and helps identify the most common problems and shortcomings in a manuscript, which might otherwise be overlooked.
My advice is for early career researchers to get involved with research journals and help them by evaluating the work of their peers and to join Editorial Board. By taking the opportunity to review new manuscripts, one becomes much more aware of new ideas of research topic and new approaches.
What support can you give authors and researchers who are hoping to publish in your journal?
Timely response, helpful suggestions and feedback to inquiries from potential authors and researchers who are interested in publishing in the journal.
First of all, I suggest that authors who are interested in publishing in the journal read some of the issues of the journal, to get a feel for previous papers that have been published on their topic of interest. Furthermore, I also recommend that prospective authors pay great attention to describing the data and, where it is possible, to make their processed data fully available in a repository.
If you have a new idea for a paper or a special issue, you can approach a member of the Editorial Board and the editorial team to discuss it before submitting your work.
How can someone who would like to publish in the journal go about doing so?
Firstly, read the journal’s Aims & Scope and back issues of the journal, to check that your paper is suitable. If in doubt, ask! As I mentioned earlier, don’t rush in submitting your paper; carefully re-read your manuscript, and check that you have followed the journal’s Instructions for Authors. You can then submit your paper through the online submission system, from the journal’s homepage.