Members Past presidency
Looking back at the CASE Presidency (2018-2020)
We are living in an era where science and technology are very much part of our society, and that scientific research is increasingly being emphasized. Considerable responsibility exists on the part of scientists to create new knowledge and disseminate these to the scholarly community. The journal is the primary platform for the dissemination of such findings. When looking at scholarly databases to track research outputs and article citations, a few aspects stand out – significantly large numbers of scholarly journals in the multifarious disciplines of science & technology, and research output emerge from Western countries. The share of scholarly journals and research papers from scientists in the Asian continent is relatively fewer. The gap, however, has been closing in recent times but not to the desired extent.
There are a number of reasons why research output from countries in Asia lag behind those of countries in the West. The first is that the tradition of scholarly journals in science and technology has a longer history in the West. The second is that there is more funding for scientific research in the West. Third is that journals established in Asian countries have still quite some way to go when it comes to impact factors and article citations. Fourth is that prominent scientists in Asia prefer to publish their papers in the well-established journals in the West rather than in local society journals.
Against the backdrop of the above, the Council of Asian Science Editors (CASE) was established in 2014. Its principal objective was to raise greater awareness in Asian countries of the importance of uplifting standards of local journals so that these can be mainstreamed internationally. With the diversity of scientific journals and the difficulties of publishing internationally owing to low acceptance rates of top-tier journals, journals published in Asian countries do have a role to play in promoting scientific scholarship as long as it satisfies key standards such as research originality and peer review of manuscripts. In course of time, these journals can aspire to become international journals. Indeed, many journals published in Asia have now reached international standards.
The CASE has been helmed by distinguished academics since its inception for a regular term. One fine day in the morning of February 2018, I was nominated for the CASE President-to-be. My first internal reaction was ‘why me’, especially when there are a number of distinguished academics in the CASE Executive Board. Another reason why I agreed to the nomination is that I have served as Board Member of the CASE since inception and as Vice President for a term, thus having many opportunities to see the workings of the CASE from a close perspective and interacting with dedicated Board members who share a vision to see standards of scientific publishing rise in Asia. With that, the CASE has embarked on an altruistic mission to raise the profile of scientific publishing in Asia was evident to me when I first joined the CASE. Though the idea of establishing CASE was mooted by Korean academics, their vision was transnational so as to embrace other countries in Asia, who are also represented in the CASE Council. My nomination was ratified during the Annual General Meeting of the CASE in July 2018 in Korea.
As mentioned earlier, a core group of Korean academics was instrumental in the formation of the CASE. Many scientific societies – for example, the Royal Society (UK) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (US), were also started by a small group of scientists and, in this respect, the CASE has been fortunate that this pioneer group of academics saw the need for a new association to cater to the needs of science editors in Asia. They were instrumental in realizing that scientific publishing is not a straightforward exercise but needs a variety of stakeholders to be involved in the scholarly publishing ecosystem in a country – for example, academics of respectable scientific standing to helm journals as editors; pool of academics to serve as reviewers; respectable journal editorial board to provide credibility and endorsement; manuscript editing services to ensure that papers submitted to journals are in a form that can be sent out for peer review and, where English is used, the language proficiency is acceptable; and publishers to bring out the journal as well as distribute these to relevant audiences. It also helps when there is a national science editor’s association in a country for then the efforts can be amplified further for the cause of capacity building. Recognizing and addressing these challenges have been a recurring theme in the CASE conferences and workshops organized over the years in different countries, and which brings in speakers from various countries and organizations to address diverse aspects of the scholarly publishing ecosystem. This ecosystem is needed for journals to flourish in a country. Each country faces its own unique challenges in meeting these challenges but they need to recognize the key enablers that can propel the mission forward.
In the two years that I was the president of the CASE, I was fortunate to work with a dedicated cadre of Board Members. The team spirit in meetings and in endeavors rolled out has been great, and this is what made me relish this Presidency. The annual conferences, publishing of Science Editing journal and the CASE Newsletter, and annual gathering of the CASE Executive Board made me realize that we are in this mission for a worthy cause and that that there is a need to ensure that the momentum is maintained so as to ensure that the overarching mission of the CASE elicits enhanced outreach in Asia.
My tenure as the CASE President was immensely satisfying. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude and appreciation to fellow members in the CASE Executive Board who were in this journey with me. Special thanks are due to Secretary-General Prof Kim Hyungsun for his useful advice and kind assistance in several matters. It has been a pleasure working with Prof Kim. Despite his scholarly achievements and other credentials, Prof Kim retains an innate modesty and collegiality that cannot be missed by others. I am glad that Prof Kim has taken over as the next CASE President. Prof Kim brings in a wealth of research, administrative and editorial experience to the Presidency and, coupled with his insights and perspectives on the scholarly publishing ecosystem, I am confident that the CASE will scale new heights in the next stage of its mission.
R. Subramaniam, PhD
Council of Asian Science Editors