Meet the Editor: Dr. Jules M. Blais, Founding Senior Editor of FACETS

June 12, 2015

Dr. Jules M. Blais is a Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Ottawa, and has served as Associate Editor for Environmental Reviews and Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Jules earned his Ph.D. at McGill University, and is Co-Director of the Laboratory for the Analysis of Natural and Synthetic Environmental Toxicants. Jules is the founding Senior Editor of FACETS, a new multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary open access science journal.

[Photo credit: NSERC]

Q. How did you choose science as a career?

A. I started reading scientific studies when I was in high school and I was fascinated that people could make a career asking basic questions about nature. I have been hooked ever since.  

Q. What is your area of research?

A. I study how pollutants behave in the environment and accumulate in organisms and ecosystems. I am also interested in how pollutants affect living things, including humans. 

Q. What are some of the most exciting things happening in your field right now?

A. We are beginning to develop a better appreciation for the global implications of human effects on the environment. This knowledge will enable us to make recommendations about how chemicals must be regulated to protect the environment, which of course also has implications for health and the economy. 

Q. FACETS is a new and exciting project here at CSP. Could you please describe what motivated you to accept the post as the founding Senior Editor?

A. My role as Senior Editor will be to establish and promote the journal as well as what it stands for, namely high quality interdisciplinary science, which is openly accessible to other scientists, policy makers, and the general public. Because of my passion for these issues I knew that the role of Senior Editor would be well worth my time and effort.

Q. What excites you most about FACETS, and what challenges do you anticipate?

A. Like anything new, the most exciting elements of a project are also the major challenges.  FACETS will be interdisciplinary, which will require an Editorial Board with the expertise to handle scientific articles spanning the broad range of disciplines in science and engineering. It will be open access, meaning that all content will be freely available to anyone in the world, so our business model must allow us to publish openly without compromising quality while still being affordable for our contributing authors. Also, we will accept manuscripts in English and French, so we will have to find bilingual editors and reviewers. It is an ambitious project that reflects our Canadian values, and I am looking forward to the challenge. 

Q. Please describe your vision for the journal.

A. FACETS will highlight the many exciting advances in the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary sciences, providing a high-quality, affordable open access option that serves the publishing and dissemination needs of researchers in Canada and abroad. It is a community-supported effort, spurred by a shift toward public access to science. FACETS will initially focus on six research areas: Biomedical and Health Sciences; Biological and Life Sciences; Earth and Environmental Sciences; Physical Sciences; Engineering, Technology, and Mathematics; and Integrative Sciences (including topics such as science policy and science communication). Additional subject areas will be added as the journal evolves in conjunction with emerging scientific advances. FACETS will also publish manuscripts in English and French, to reflect and represent both of Canada’s official languages.  

Q. Do you have any advice for new researchers looking to publish their work?

A. We were all young researchers at one time, and I can easily appreciate that submitting manuscripts can be daunting, especially for the uninitiated.  At FACETS we will do everything we can to facilitate the process for new researchers, whilst not compromising on quality.  As a university professor, with a large group of students and post-doctoral fellows, I am also aware that often the most cutting-edge science is coming from our youngest members.  My advice to young researchers is simply to do good work, and we will do all we can to provide a platform to feature this work internationally. 

Q. There are a lot of changes happening in scholarly publishing right now… What do you see as the biggest challenge or greatest opportunity?  

A. The world is moving towards open access, which is an essential development to ensure that everyone has access to the best and latest scientific knowledge. The days of paper and issue journal subscriptions are behind us. At FACETS, we plan to be one of the leaders in the transition. We hope to develop and foster a responsible transition to open access publications. 

Q. How do you spend your free time when not in the Lab?

A. When time permits, I enjoy traveling to interesting places around the world with my wife. 

Many thanks to Dr. Blais for sitting down to answer some of our questions. We're very pleased to welcome him to FACETS and our Editorial team

Filed Under: FACETS Meet the Editor Open Access Tanya Samman

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