Dr. Juan Manuel Guayasamin is a specialist in evolutionary biology, who teaches at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito of Ecuador. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Neotropical Biodiversity, an Open Access journal published on behalf of SENESCYT, the Ecuadorean Department for Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation. We caught up with Dr. Guayasamin about the challenges of launching a journal, his advice to early career researchers and what he sees for the future of Neotropical Biodiversity.
About the editor
How has your experience of Open Access as a researcher informed your experience as editor of an Open Access journal?
As a researcher, Open Access is undoubtedly the most influential venue for scientific progress, especially in countries where access to specialized literature is difficult. Still, open access journals need to find venues to facilitate publication with reduced or no author fees. As such, associations with the government or research institutions are badly needed.
As an editor, attracting researchers to your journal is a complex task, as new journals are not indexed and have no impact factor. Open Access journals make things easier, especially when, as with Neotropical Biodiversity, authors are not charged for publication.
About the journal
Neotropical Biodiversity only launched in 2015. What was the greatest challenge in launching a new journal?
There are two main challenges; first, making the journal visible in the scientific community and, second, assembling a committed editorial board. These challenges can be overcome by convincing established scientists to support the journal as reviewers and authors. This requires showing that the journal is serious and contains novel aspects that will ensure its growth and quality.
All article publishing charges (APCs) are funded by SENESCYT. Why did the Ministry take this decision?
The journal targets two of SENESCYT’s goals: encouraging publication of scientific work from Ecuador and Latin America, and facilitating knowledge diffusion. By funding the APCs, SENESCYT remove any economic or financial barriers scientists may encounter when accessing or publishing research, and ensure all papers are widely available across the global scientific community (Guayasamin & Lucio-Paredes, 2015).
How does Neotropical Biodiversity contribute to knowledge and understanding for the study of the Neotropics?
Neotropical Biodiversity was born with a clear philosophy: scientific information should be readily available to any interested person, and the only criterion to publish should be research quality and not economic factors (Guayasamin & Lucio-Paredes, 2015). We expect that, with time, the journal will become one of the most influential venues for publishing studies on Neotropical biology.
Where do you see the journal in ten years’ time?
In ten years, Neotropical Biodiversity should be one of the leading journals for studies on the Neotropics. Currently, most biodiversity research is partitioned among several very specialized journals; however, Neotropical Biodiversity aims to have a broad as well as specialized audience. We expect the broad scope of the journal will attract more and more readers with time.
As Editor, the journal’s impact factor is not my main concern, as it is a metric that, in my opinion, does not necessarily reflect the quality of the articles or journal. My goal is to have the best possible papers and the highest number of readers.
About the research field
What are the key emerging research topics in the study of the Neotropics?
Studies based on molecular data are emerging as fundamental elements for all types of biological studies. Their impact is visible on evolutionary biology, taxonomy, ecology, and conservation biology.
Areas that are on the decline include detailed morphological studies, not because they are not important, but because of a lack of specialists in these areas.
About everything else…
What advice would you give to early career researchers?
Forming collaboration groups is, in my perspective, the cornerstone for an active, stimulating, and always up-to-date research program.