H2O Journal: Interview with H2Open Journal Editors-in-Chief

Apr 14, 2023

H2Open Journal is due to receive its first Impact Factor later this year. This is great news for the journal and its staff and authors.

by IWA

To discuss this further and shed light on this success, it’s our pleasure to introduce Ashok Chapagain, Rita Henderson, and Rong Chen, Editors-in-Chief of H2Open Journal.

High Impact Factor

What’s H2Open Journal’s Impact Factor journey been like up to now?

AC: Multiple factors draws high quality research submission to any scientific journals such as: high impact factor (IF), reputation of the editorial board, the quality of peer-review process, ease of access and publication etc. Among these factors, the Impact Factor (IF) is often considered an important metric for evaluating the quality and prestige of a scientific journal. Researchers often select publishing their work in journals with a high IF in their field of research, though not comparable across different research fields due to variations in citation practices.

Achieving a first Impact Factor is an important milestone for any journal. it indicates that our journal is gaining visibility and recognition within the scientific community. This, in turn, can attract high-quality submissions, increase readership, and enhance the reputation and prestige of the journal.

RH: It is challenging to set-up a new journal and so it has been incredibly rewarding to see the number and range of publications in our journal continue to rise and the reach of the journal grow, which is now leading to the associated citation increases and our current impact factor. These achievements have been the result of the concerted efforts from both IWA Publishing  and our Editorial team, including a number of very dedicated Guest Editors, who have worked very hard to bring quality studies to our audience addressing diverse, relevant issues, including Special Editions on the topics of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and evolutionary algorithms, both hot topics in today’s water community. I thank everybody for their support of the journal’s journey so far.

RC: The Impact Factor of the H2Open Journal has been steadily increasing since its launch in 2018. In 2023, the journal received its first official Impact Factor of *.***, and hopefully, this will continue to rise every year. This suggests that the journal is becoming increasingly influential and is publishing high-quality research in the field.

How does it feel to have led this journal to receiving its first Impact Factor?

AC: As one of the Editors-in-Chief of the Journal, I see this an important milestone in the history of this journal and immensely proud to be a part of the entire team working tirelessly to establish our journal at such a short period of time. Receiving the first Impact factor will be a turning point in our journey to serve scientific community with a high-quality research articles and provide access to a vast readership. I take this opportunity to congratulate all the associate editors, editors, and communications, coordination and marketing colleagues at IWA publishing.

RH: It feels like this is just the beginning, and I am inspired by the progress. Now that this milestone has been achieved, I hope that we can really start to push boundaries and attract multi-disciplinary research that assists to move us forward in addressing the many, water-related, global challenges.                                     

RC: I am proud to be working with an outstanding team of Associate Editors and an international Editorial Board. Together, we have developed the concept for H2Open that covers fundamental science, the application of science and technology and the impact of societal and political and economic factors to bring new discoveries and studies to practitioners and researchers in all areas of water management. Invited review articles, cascading high-quality papers, creation of graphical abstracts and special issue collections were just a few initiatives that helped distinguish our journal from others. Receiving the first Impact Factor is a major milestone for the journal and our editorial team. H2Open will continue to serve our authors and readers diligently as we continue to thrive.

How can other journals replicate this success?

AC: Achieving the first Impact Factor can be a major hurdle for any new scientific journals putting their first foot in a crowded landscape. From our journey, I can share our stepwise strategy here. We aimed to:

Develop a strong editorial board: Having a strong editorial board with recognized experts in the field can enhance the quality and reputation of the journal. The editorial board can help to attract high-quality submissions, provide guidance on the review process, and ensure that the journal maintains high standards.

Engage with the scientific community: We attended conferences, hosted events, and solicited feedback from readers and authors. Engaging with the scientific community can help to build relationships, increase visibility, and enhance the reputation of the journal.

Increase visibility and accessibility: We promoted the published articles and the journal through various channels, such as social media, newsletters, and press releases.

Publish high-quality research: Here, the most important factor is only to publish high-quality research, though less in numbers, that is relevant and important to the scientific community. And, finally,

Implement a rigorous peer-review process: A rigorous peer-review process is essential to ensuring the quality and integrity of the articles published in the journal. We ensured that the peer-review process has been fair, transparent, and efficient. The rigorous peer-review process at early stage needs more supportive inputs from the associate editors. We’re fortunate to have developed strongly supportive team of editors in diverse fields of research covered by our Journal.

RH: I think that you have to commit as a team for the long haul! Achieving an impact factor is a lengthy process, one that requires a reputation to be established over a period of time. Our Editorial team was selected to cover a range of geographical locations and subjects, to ensure as big a reach as possible across a wide range of fields, which has helped to develop our reputation. The support provided by IWA Publishing as part of our team has also played a huge role, from marketing, to organising our regular meetings, to assisting in the review process. I am grateful that our team maintained a consistent presence with relatively little turn over, meaning that everyone has an excellent understanding of the aims and scope of the journal, the expectations for the quality of the articles we publish and the experience necessary to implement a rapid review process for the authors. I hope that this has provided in turn an excellent experience for our contributors, and I therefore expect that word-of-mouth has played a part in the success that we have seen to date.

RC: Publishing and successfully running a good-quality peer-reviewed scientific journal is not an easy task. The long-term sustainability of a journal depends on good quality manuscripts, an active editorial board, good quality reviewers, a workable business model to ensure financial support, increased visibility which will ensure increased submissions, indexation in various important databases, online availability and an easy-to-use website. Incorporating these important points will ensure smooth sailing to a great extent.

A Successful Journal

What are the highlights of working on H2Open Journal?

AC: Though there are a numerous moment of success and learning lessons in the process, I wanted to bring three key highlights of working for H2O Journal.

Firstly, it is an honour to be associated with a newly born scientific journal in my field of research. Immensely proud of that!

Secondly, our team spans across the globe, and bring immense knowledge and expertise to the team. Hugely productive time!

Thirdly, we managed to get the first Impact Factor for the Journal which is a landmark milestone in the history of the journal!

RH: I am excited to be working on a new, open-access journal that is genuinely trying to push boundaries and be world-leading in the way it publishes research. I hope that through our ambition to cover a wide range of multi-disciplinary research topics that tackle 21st century water problems, we can facilitate real change in the way research is undertaken and the impact that it has.

RC: Some highlights of working on the H2Open Journal include contributing to the knowledge and understanding of water management practices and sustainability, collaborating with experts in various fields to publish high-quality, impactful research articles, the potential for increased visibility and recognition among the academic and professional communities, and the opportunity to shape the direction and focus of water research through editorial work.

What research stands out in H2Open Journal?

AC: All the research published in the Journal are of high quality and add stronger elements to advance the science in their respective fields. As we grow, I see our win also lies in getting high quality research focusing on developing water resilience, climate change and water risk, vulnerability of ecosystem and services under shocks and stresses, practical solutions with a strong scientific foundation to address water challenges etc.

RH: A real stand out for me has been the Special Edition on strategies to progress WASH, which was created in partnership with WaterAid with an aim of highlighting the voices of those from low and middle-income countries. With the support of IWA Publishing, the Guest Editor team led by Prof Juliet Willetts implemented some real innovations, including piloting a mentoring scheme for those new to publication and a staggered review process, which allowed interested to authors to test the water through submitting an abstract only for initial review. I am proud to be a part of an Editorial team that is open minded and thinks outside the box when it comes to publishing. We have learnt a lot through this process, and I look forward to developing these and other ideas further over time.  

RC: H2Open Journal covers a broad range of topics related to water, covering fundamental science, the application of science and technology and the impact of societal and political and economic factors. Some noteworthy research areas include those that propose new and innovative technologies for addressing emerging water-related risks, variability and change, provide insights into the behaviour and fate of emerging contaminants in urban water systems, case studies on successful implementation of sustainable water management practices, and interdisciplinary approaches to solving complex water-related problems under the influences global change.

As H2Open Journal approaches its 5th birthday in July, where do you see this publication five years from now?

AC: With the evolution of science and technology, the filed of scientific journal publication will also evolve and adapt to these emerging opportunities and trends. The emerging AI technologies and tools are changing the way research is disseminated and consumed.  I see that H2O being an open access is already one step ready for such advances.  However, it may not happen all in the next 5 years. I see more of our journal being consumed in a digital platform, augmented dissemination with AI technology, and strong increase in cross-referencing. This will help us get substantial visibility and grows the base of our readership community rapidly. I see H2O journal being recognised as one of the most prestigious Journals in the field of water science!

RH: As we grow the journal, we look forward to further diversifying of our Editorial team to better represent our audience, ensuring that our articles remain relevant in a global context. I think that as we continue to build our reputation, we will become a highly-respected platform that caters to all the water community. A real gap in publishing is in providing suitable reviews for multi-disciplinary research, however, multi-disciplinary research is critical if complex water problems are to be solved. I hope that in 5 years time this can be an area that our journal has a reputation for excelling in.

RC: H2Open journal is a rapidly developing journal. We aim to continue to earn the confidence of new authors and readers to increase submissions and serve a broad readership from researchers to practitioners. The initial Impact Factor of *.*** indicates a solid recognition for the journal, and I expect that the number of submissions and impact of published papers will increase from all parts of the world. The Open Access and online nature of our journal provide an invaluable platform for easy access that is attractive to all readers. I expect exponential growth in the recognition of the journal that will translate to steady increases in the Impact Factor in the years to come.

Inviting Submissions

What do you have to say to authors who want to submit to the journal?

AC: For potential authors wanting to get their article published in an Open Access journal with a strong Impact Factor, with a minimal return time for a high quality and transparent peer-review process by a reputable publishing such as IWA, it should be a first choice for submission. Our team not only help you improve the quality of research by inviting key experts in your field of research to peer-review your article, but also support to process it rapidly. You are encouraged to submit your articles in any regular established field of research, but also look out for the Special Issues which we regularly open focusing on emerging and ongoing trend in scientific research.

RH: We appreciate that there are many options available for authors who wish to submit their water-related research. If you choose to submit to H2Open Journal, we will work very hard to ensure that your research manuscript is handled efficiently and respectfully, working with expert peer-reviewers to help you further improve the quality of your manuscript. For those authors in low income countries, I also encourage you to check out our Open Access waivers for authors, as you may be entitled to free or discounted publishing.

RC: Publishing our work is a fundamental element of academic research and a key element of science progress. Publishing work from early-stage researchers in H2Open journal is even more advantageous because the journal has high scientific standards and disseminates the accepted work rapidly to an unlimited audience. This is a great way to gain attention and build a reputation. In addition, the H2Open editorial team often work with authors and particularly young scientists to improve their manuscript and help reach the standards for acceptance.

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