ohiocaver wrote:Arguably the most prestigious publication in the NSS family is the JOURNAL of CAVE and KARST STUDIES. It stands with a very few other publications atop the cave research world. It is a repository of scientific information, discovery and research of interest to cavers. Recently, however, it seems the NSS has allowed the editorial board to forget that the JOURNAL is a publication of a U.S. caving organization and is supported by dues overwhelmingly paid by members of U.S. grottoes – not cave clubs or colleges scattered about the globe.
This is not to say there should not be room in the JOURNAL for articles from around the world. However, I strongly believe that there should be a sizable home-field advantage given to articles done about caving and cave research in North America, at least; and to research done by NSS members and supported by NSS member grottoes for sure (this is just another case where the NSS takes from local grottoes but does next-to-nothing to boost or acknowledge its member grottoes and gives grottoes little support in any way, shape or form).
In short, I question the editorial judgment of the JOURNAL staff on what is more important to a U.S. cave group...something from an esoteric location far across the globe that catches the editorial board members’ eyes? Or, say, an article on a new species written by local grotto members and NSS people here and sponsored, in part, by money put up by THREE local grottos that all are members in good standing of NSS (including support from the Cleveland Grotto Science Fund). Where is the recognition to us?
This is not a concern unique to caving. It is not cave xenophobia.
Local newspaper editors face the same challenge daily in deciding which articles to run in their small, hometown papers. There is a misguided (but usually short-lived) tendency among less thoughtful editors to favor hot news from Washington, DC, a spectacular disaster, or national sporting from some faraway place over the news of a local animal-adoption drive, a robbery on Main Street, or the dubious accomplishments of the high school sports teams. However, a local paper must focus on local happenings…readers expect local. If there is a local tie to a disaster like the Boston Marathon bombing, then by all means run the article…and lead with the local interest, the hometown runner who survived the attack. Otherwise, stick to your local knitting…even if the flooding out of a small township bridge is not as exotic it is important to those who support the publication.
There will, of course, be issues when local news is thin. Or when an isolated international discovery is earth-shattering news. Then, by all means, the editor should go ahead and run the national or international story. However, the ratio of local to exotic always should be in the 10:1 area, not – as with the JOURNAL – often 8:2 in favor of foreign research. The Board neglects local readership and local interests at its own peril.
Let’s remember that the name of the publication is not the INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL of KARST. It is not sponsored by the International Speleological Society. How the editorial board members determine which articles to run is based on their well-reasoned impression of scientific worth and interest. However, I fear the current board is enamored of caves in locales with exotic names and little more. Perhaps they are inundated by work from abroad. Still, the work-a-day cave research from other nations and other cave organizations should be used on a space-available basis. NSS member-supported or generated work should have priority.
Sadly, one gets the idea that many of these international papers are submitted to our JOURNAL because publication is free (many academic journals, rather than paying the writer or publishing pro bono, require the author to pay a per-page fee to get research published). They don't even pay NSS dues - but they use our resources. Unless an international paper covers the discovery of something truly spectacular (discovery of a new species or cave phenomena), then the first nod for space in our JOURNAL must go to the work done in the USA and by members of the NSS who are affiliated with local grottoes. They support the JOURNAL with their dues. It is a shame NSS no longer distributes the JOURNAL to its members. One must now pay extra (or be a life member) to receive a printed copy. One surely can see why the membership lost interest in a publication that is more enamored of faraway places with strange sounding names than caves, colleges and critters that are in members’ back yards.
The JOURNAL must start charging non-US contributors a fee for publication…a fee commensurate with the fees charged by other scholarly publications. In any case, scoring for editorial space in the JOURNAL should reflect a strong preference for local work by NSS members. Otherwise, the JOURNAL will become more of an esoteric outlier in the NSS world than it is today [the majority of NSS members decline to receive the publication]. That will put it one step from the dustbin of history.
gulley.jason wrote:As a researcher that publishes in scientific journals, I would hate to see JCKS move to a fee based publication structure. There are very few journals that are specific to karst research and even fewer that are ranked, which is an important criteria for those of that do research as a profession.
Introduction of a publication fee will reduce the number of submissions to the journal and eliminate the journal as a publication avenue for unfunded graduate and undergraduate students, whose work is frequently published in JCKS. Much of the research I conducted as a graduate student and as a postdoc was conducted on a shoe string budget and I could not afford to pay page charges. Consequently, my research was published in other journals that were free and backed by major publishing companies. I was able to find alternative journals in my specific case because much of my work was related to glaciers and of widespread appeal to the geoscience research community - BUT that research is now located behind a HUGE paywall, limiting access to the general public.
Pure karst research has a limited audience, few funding opportunities or publication venues. I can think of no for-profit scientific journal that would publish a study on the impacts of cavers' urine on cave dirt. I can think of few journals that would publish research on the best ways to decontaminate equipment to prevent the spread of WNS. This is why societies have traditionally published their own research journals - because nobody else was interested in publishing the kind of research the society was advancing. As a society that is dedicated to promoting advancing understanding of caves (which is included in the name of the society) we should be proud to provide a journal that allows researchers from around the world to distribute their work to the broader scientific (and conservation) communities.
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