30 years of the European Review: an interview with Alban Kellerbauer

30 years of the European Review: an interview with Alban Kellerbauer

Ahead of Academia Europaea’s celebratory event to mark this milestone, European Review Editor-in-Chief Alban Kellerbauer discusses his ambitions for the journal, and what makes the ER distinctive.

Event: Science and scholarship in a changing Europe

Join us for a celebratory event marking 30 years of the European Review (1993-2023). This hybrid event take place on Monday 3rd July 2023 at the prestigious Wolfson College, Lee Hall, University of Cambridge. More information and register here.

The interview

You became the European Review’s Editor-in-Chief in 2022. Why did you decide to take up the role? What had impressed you about the ER?

“My first contact with the European Review was in 2014, when I contributed an article to a special issue arising from a workshop at the Academia Europaea’s 25th anniversary conference (published in the February 2015 issue), in which I had participated alongside such eminent scientists as Tom Kibble, one of the architects of the Standard Model of particle physics, and Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal. In 2017, I guest-edited a special issue on Perspectives in Fundamental Physics, dedicated to the then recently deceased Tom Kibble. On these occasions I came to appreciate the European Review as a unique journal among the scholarly periodicals, catering to all disciplines and thus fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and discourse.

Around the same time, when I was still a member of the Young Academy of Europe, the previous editor-in-chief Theo D’haen invited me to become an associate editor of the European Review. He wanted to move from a system where the editor-in-chief essentially made all editorial decisions on manuscripts to a full peer-review model, managed by an editorial team. (Incidentally, this was a requirement for the European Review to be indexed in abstract and citation databases, such as the Social Sciences Citation Index and Scopus.) For me this was a welcome opportunity to contribute to a key activity of Academia Europaea. At the same time, I found it exciting to deal with cutting-edge articles in many different fields.

Several years after retiring from his university post in 2015, Theo felt that it was time to also pass on the editorship of the European Review to a junior colleague. I was immensely honored when the Board of Academia Europaea followed his suggestion and designated me – I had been elected to the AE in 2018 – as new editor-in-chief as of 2022. It is a great pleasure and motivation to follow in the footsteps of my eminent predecessors Arnold Burgen, the founding President of Academia Europaea, and Theo D’haen. I also view the editorship of the European Review as a means for me to serve the AE, which in my view plays a crucially important role in the academic landscape of Europe and the world, with activities ranging from interdisciplinary exchange to policy advice.”

What were your ambitions for the journal when you started and how are things developing?

“Contrary to most scholarly journals, which cater to a highly specialist audience, the European Review has a much broader scope and is open to submissions from all disciplines. Consequently, authors ideally target their manuscripts to a highly intelligent, but non-specialist readership (such as the members of Academia Europaea). Articles conceived in this way are a pleasure to read and allow open-minded readers to significantly broaden their horizon. My aim is to entice researchers to submit such excellent manuscripts to the European Review and to realise the incredible potential of a broad, curious, interdisciplinary readership.

A challenge that we are facing is that some authors are unaware of the European Review or pursue a publication strategy solely based on the impact factor of a journal. Some may also fear that their work will be ‘lost’ in a sea of unrelated articles. Therefore, the rate of unsolicited submissions is not as high as I would like, and many of them have to be rejected in peer review. I would be delighted to receive more unsolicited submissions that meet the European Review’s criteria of excellence and readability by a broad audience. As a nuclear and medical physicist working at the interface between the natural sciences and the life sciences, I also made it part of my mission to increase the proportion of articles from these fields in the European Review.”

In the very first issue of the European Review, Sir Arnold Burgen said, “The Academia Europaea is concerned with discourse and study within Europe with a strong emphasis on communication and co-operation between disciplines.” How do you feel that’s being achieved?

“Academia Europaea pursues these goals through a wide range of collaborative activities, such as conferences, workshops and interdisciplinary working groups. The AE Knowledge Hubs in Barcelona, Bergen, Budapest, Cardiff, Munich, Tbilisi and Wroclaw play an instrumental role in organising and hosting them. What the European Review can do is to create and preserve a record of these events and activities. We usually achieve this by assembling special issues on highlighted subjects. These are either foci – collections of articles in regular issues – or entire supplementary issues. They are usually proposed by guest editors and involve the participants of topical workshops and symposia.

We find that these issues are highly appreciated both by their authors and our readers and that the articles are highly cited. For instance, in 2022 we published a focus on Cultural Landscapes and a supplementary issue on Iconoclasm. This year, a supplementary issue on Intermediality and one on a workshop on Publishing in Modern Academia – Digital Challenges, organised by the AE expert group on Higher Education, Research and Culture in European Societies (HERCulES), are planned. These special issues are very sought after by guest editors, and it is a great pleasure to interact with them and the contributing authors in selecting and reviewing the manuscripts.”

What are the benefits of publishing with the European Review? What would you say makes the ER distinctive for authors?

“Highly specialised, technical papers are best suited for journals with a very narrow target audience. Authors publishing in the European Review know that they are addressing a broader, multidisciplinary audience. This of course presents a challenge to them, because they have to adapt their language to avoid technical jargon and provide some explanations for non-specialised readers. On the other hand, authors may broach subjects spanning several disciplines and even submit collaborative works with colleagues from other fields. The European Review is widely read among the members of Academia Europaea, and a publication in the journal can be the starting point of a scholarly discourse or collaboration with other members, which can be further pursued at Academia Europaea events such as the annual conferences.

Finally, publishing in the European Review is a means for members of Academia Europaea to convey their appreciation for the academy, their support of its goals and their wish to fruitfully interact with other members on a platform that is decidedly our own to inhabit and develop.”

Posted 1st June 2023. For further information please contact AECardiffHub@cardiff.ac.uk

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