CCAMLR Science was launched in 1994, with the aim of providing mechanism to publicise the science done in CCAMLR and to raise the profile of CCAMLR within the international scientific community. However, a recent reduction in the number of papers submitted to, and published in, the journal has prompted a review of options for its future. CCAMLR Science currently only accepts papers that were originally submitted to CCAMLR’s scientific working groups. When scientists working in those groups were asked for their views on the future of the journal, there was agreement that the journal has an important role to provide an avenue to publish and publicise science done in support of CCAMLR. However, there was also a desire for the journal to provide a place to publish papers ‘which would be difficult to publish in other peer-reviewed journals’. In doing so, the papers would attain a higher status than a working group paper submitted to a meeting and those scientists that make a scientific contribution to the success of CCAMLR would receive recognition.
Clearly, a mechanism already exists to elevate the status of working group papers, through publication in CCAMLR Science or other peer-reviewed journals. However, would publishing papers in CCAMLR Science that might not be suitable for publication in other journals offer a credible vehicle to publicise the science done in support of CCAMLR? A change in policy on peer-review that advocated a lower level of acceptance criteria might risk the journal becoming ‘grey literature’ and make it a less attractive place to publish scholarly work. Such an outcome would surely not be consistent with the original objectives of CCAMLR Science.
An option for the future is to make CCAMLR Science more attractive to scientists to publish CCAMLR-related work. A key element of this would be to increase the number of papers published in the journal, potentially by removing the restriction of considering only those papers submitted to working groups. Such an approach would also require an increase in the marketing and product placement of the journal that would either require an increase in resources devoted to the journal in-house or through an external publishing house.
An alternative approach might be to step back and review the best mechanisms to ‘publicise the science done in CCAMLR and to raise the profile of CCAMLR within the international scientific community’. This may mean a move away from the current journal format, including a change from an annual publication cycle, to focus on special topics, either as occasional publication of CCAMLR Science or by sponsoring topic-related special issues in other relevant journals.
Science remains the foundation for the work of CCAMLR and, notwithstanding the uncertain future for this journal, it is reassuring that the breadth and quality of science that supports CCAMLR is undiminished. Papers that present the cross-disciplinary science used by CCAMLR are published in a range of peer-reviewed journals which is a testament to the quality of that science. ‘Publish or perish’ describes the pressure faced by academics to publish the results of their research to maintain their status (and funding). While the scientists that provide the foundation for CCAMLR may lament the pressure to publish or perish, as long as that pressure exists, those publications will continue to raise the profile of CCAMLR within the international scientific community.
The desire for CCAMLR Science to be both a high-quality peer-reviewed journal and a place to publish papers that might not be easy to publish in other high-quality peer-reviewed journals does present a challenge. As CCAMLR considers how best to communicate the science that underpins its decision-making, the changing processes and platforms for publishing science provide exciting opportunities to review how best to meet such a challenge.