Earlier this year, the ASLO Board was tasked with reviewing the contract and collaboration with Duke University Press (DUP) for the publication of Limnology & Oceanography: Fluids and Environments (LOFE). LOFE is in its fourth year of operation, and the contract between DUP and ASLO stipulates the assessment and review of the progress and viability of the journal prior to July 1, 2014.
The ASLO Executive Director (ED) has been communicating since March with Erich Staib, Senior Editor at DUP, regarding the upcoming review and the status of LOFE. At the request of the ED, Erich and his colleagues produced a report outlining the options for LOFE and the future collaboration between ASLO and DUP. Erich was invited to attend the Portland Board meeting, where he personally presented the Duke perspective on the journal and the collaboration, and outlined the future options from the DUP perspective. Erich received and answered many questions from the ASLO Board. The Board indicated that a vote would be taken on the various options, and future steps would be discussed with DUP based on that vote.
The launching of a new publication is very challenging and requires substantial investments of time and resources. LOFE was conceived in 2008 from a desire by ASLO to offer a publishing home to seminal work in the emerging area of environmental fluid dynamics and their role in aquatic ecosystems. DUP and ASLO formed a contractual partnership whereby DUP would manage and assume costs for all editorial, production, hosting, and institutional sales of LOFE. ASLO would hire and fund an EIC and Associate Editors for LOFE, and would maintain ownership of the journal.
The first manuscripts were submitted in 2010, and the first published works appeared online in 2011, with hosting on the HighWire platform. The founding Editor-in-Chief (EIC), Josef Ackerman of the University of Guelph, assembled a team of renowned Associate Editors (AEs) and began the task of author outreach and active solicitation of manuscripts to the journal. In conjunction with DUP, Editor Ackerman has been a driving force in suggesting enhancements to the journal, with the interests and needs of the readers and authors as his guiding principle. Despite the exemplary efforts of Editor Ackerman, the AEs, and DUP, both ASLO and DUP acknowledge that LOFE will not generate sufficient revenue to cover expenses in the near- or mid-term, as was predicated in the original contract. In addition, the securing of an impact factor from Thomson Reuters has taken longer than anticipated. Finally, LOFE is subject to the same forces that have proved equally daunting for L&O, and L&O Methods science publishers with a small journal collection and no access to consortia sales (through a partner or agent) are essentially shut off from the market sector responsible for more than 50% of all publication revenue from libraries and institutions.
Despite these challenges, the ASLO Board expressed strong support of the topical work published in LOFE, and deliberated extensively both in Portland and immediately thereafter to fashion a solution that would preserve and encourage seminal contributions from this important and emerging sub-discipline. In broader terms, the Board unanimously endorsed the importance of engagement and representation of the physical and biogeochemical disciplines in the ASLO publications portfolio. This broadly diversified and inclusive approach is a core component of the developing five-year ASLO Strategic Plan. Thus, the Board has voted to discontinue LOFE as a separate journal, and to invite future manuscripts in this area for submission to the flagship L&O journal.
All manuscripts currently in review at LOFE will be adjudicated and, if accepted, will be published online in LOFE. And of course, all manuscripts currently in production will be completed and published online in LOFE. It is expected that the adjudication and publication of manuscripts currently under consideration and in press will take several months. The final article of LOFE will be published and posted to HighWire in December 2014, completing the volume year.
All manuscripts published in LOFE will remain available online and fully citable. Early in 2015, all LOFE content will be migrated from HighWire to appear prominently with all ASLO publications on the hosting platform of ASLO’s publishing partner. Effective immediately, all authors with new manuscripts appropriate for LOFE are invited to submit to L&O for consideration. Joe Ackerman has been appointed as an Associate Editor of L&O, and will continue to manage the review and adjudication process for new fluids submissions to L&O.
Finally, the Board supports the publication of special themes in L&O, including the call for papers initiated recently by LOFE. The immediate benefit to authors is submission to our renowned flagship journal with one of the highest impact factors in the aquatic sciences. The important work that Joe and the LOFE Associate Editors have done will be preserved, and will continue as part of the expanding editorial scope of L&O. ASLO will maintain its mission and responsibility to its members by continuing to deliver outstanding publications and research content that leverage the L&O brand in a fiscally responsible and operationally effective manner.
On behalf of the ASLO Board, our deep appreciation is extended to Erich Staib and the team at DUP. The decision to bring LOFE into the flagship L&O was difficult and more so because of our respect and outstanding relationship with DUP. DUP did not merely honor the terms of our contract, they enthusiastically embraced the journal, worked tirelessly to ensure that LOFE upheld the highest editorial and production standards, and were very responsive to all initiatives and innovations suggested by Joe. Their investment (human and capital) was significant and unwavering. LOFE could not have been launched in 2009 without their contributions. Our deep gratitude is also extended to Editor Josef Ackerman, for his vision and diligence in advancing the field of environmental fluid dynamics and his service to ASLO as LOFE Editor-in-Chief. While the ASLO Board has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that members have a strong and viable association for years to come, the strategic element of this decision was an overriding factor. The recent realignment and enhancement of our publications portfolio is a vital component of our emerging strategic plan. We appreciate the support of our members and authors as we take these important steps in energizing the ASLO publications portfolio.
Jim Elser, President
John Downing, Past-President