FACETS’ New Integrative Sciences Section: Keeping Pace With Emerging Fields of Inquiry
May 19, 2016
By Michael Donaldson
Throughout the history of scientific inquiry there has been a continual push towards identifying innovative scientific approaches that help us understand and tackle emerging challenges. These challenges include global issues such as climate change and epidemics, as well as more regionally-specific problems such as predicting population declines of imperiled species or understanding the potential effects of mining operations on surrounding soil, water, and organisms. To address these challenges, it is increasingly common for researchers to look beyond their own specific disciplines to discover new methods or new ways of conceptualizing problems.
Integrative sciences—those sciences that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries and bring together disparate fields of scientific inquiry—are continually developing to help address these challenges. Integrative sciences often overlap multiple scientific disciplines and can bridge the gap between science and communication, education, society, and policy. Integrative approaches are used not only to tackle large-scale global challenges such as climate change, water shortages, energy demands, famine, and disease, but also to address smaller-scale problems, including combining natural science and social science data to provide guidance on specific issues relevant to policymakers. Integrative sciences are broad, and bring together elements of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research approaches. Multidisciplinary approaches are used to collect knowledge from different disciplines but remain within their traditional boundaries, whereas interdisciplinary research is used to analyze and synthesize data from different disciplines to integrate them into a coherent whole (read more on this here).
By borrowing knowledge, tools, and procedures from more than one discipline, integrative approaches enable researchers to address grand challenges beyond the scope of a single-discipline approach. Natural sciences studies are increasingly integrating social science data into their experimental designs. For example, fisheries researchers may be interested in exploring novel designs of fishing nets to reduce bycatch and promote the conservation of vulnerable species. These researchers may first conduct an experiment to test the effectiveness of this net design. Then, they can use social science surveys to collect information on how the fishers who will be using the novel fishing net design feel about the change and whether or not they would actually use it in practice. The results of the net effectiveness experiment and survey could then be integrated into a single study, which could then be shared with fisheries managers to facilitate the development of more effective decision-making frameworks or policies for implementing such conservation initiatives.
Despite the benefits of integrative sciences, it can be challenging for researchers publishing this type of research to identify suitable journals in which to publish their work. For example, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research may not fall within the scope of specialized journals. In contrast, research published in general journals with broad scopes may be lost if the journal does not have a specific category to collect and highlight such unique papers. FACETS, our new open access multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary journal, not only encourages integrative sciences papers that bridge traditional disciplines, it highlights them in a special section dedicated to these unique contributions. This “Integrative Sciences” section aims to keep pace with new and emerging disciplines and provide an outlet for innovative integrative papers that span and intersect traditional fields of inquiry.
The FACETS Integrative Sciences section currently features a range of topics, and will be continuing to expand as the journal grows. Currently, the Integrative Sciences section includes the following subjects: Conservation and Sustainability, Ethics (including research ethics and integrity), Public Health, Science and Policy, Science and Society, Science Communication, and Science Education. The Integrative Sciences section has been developed to provide authors with choice and flexibility when it comes to paper types and styles. For example, traditional paper styles (with introduction, methods, results, and discussion sub-headings) are considered, but there is also a special paper type, called Science Applications Forum, which has been developed specifically for the Integrative Sciences section. Science Applications Forum articles link scientific knowledge to policy, management, public interests, industry applications, etc. If you identify an integrative sciences research area that is not represented by FACETS, please let us know! FACETS is brand new, and as we grow we aim to be as representative as possible of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research areas, including those that are new and emerging.
Papers published in the Integrative Sciences section aim to advance knowledge and to describe how the results of research can be applied in practice to solve a particular challenge or address a novel research question. These papers will be of interest to the broad readership of the journal, as the FACETS audience includes researchers, educators, policy-makers, resource managers, industry practitioners, and the public. In fact, this is the very reason for creating this section of FACETS. Our goal is to create a place where non-researchers and researchers alike can investigate 21st century challenges in a way that both advances scientific knowledge and can be understood by the general public so that everyone can inform themselves on the issues that matter to them.
For prospective authors who wish to submit their paper to FACETS under the Integrative Sciences section, we ask that you include a statement of how your paper advances scientific knowledge in your cover letter. Even though papers published in the Integrative Sciences section may not necessarily follow the traditional model of results and findings, these papers will make essential contributions to the way we think about and understand science in our daily lives. Papers published in this section should provide evidence of advancing knowledge by demonstrating a gap in our current understanding that has been filled, illustrating a new or different perspective on a topic, making a novel connection between science and society, or by reviewing and replicating previous research.
Part of FACETS’ vision is to provide a new high quality open access option to researchers. In the spirit of open science, it is one of the goals of the journal to provide a mechanism for research to be freely accessible not only to other researchers, but to the world. Thus, papers published in the Integrative Sciences section will be of interest to a range of audiences, and we see FACETS as the ideal outlet to ensure that the best integrative research reaches the right audiences. We welcome you to join us on this journey and we invite you to submit your next paper to FACETS.
By the way, we're waiving APCs until the end of 2016! Submit your manuscript to FACETS by December 31, 2016 and save $1,350.
About Michael Donaldson
Michael R. Donaldson (@EcolEvol) is the Content Development Manager at Canadian Science Publishing. His lifelong passion for nature led to a B.Sc. and M.Sc. at Carleton University and a Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia, studying the effects of climate change and fisheries on Pacific Salmon. His more recent work has investigated methods for preventing the spread of invasive Asian Carp into the Great Lakes. He has also written on the peer-review process and ideas for enhancing scientific communication. A passionate communicator of science, Michael has participated in a number of academic conferences and continues to do so in his role with Canadian Science Publishing. Michael volunteers on a number of academic society committees,