Interview with the Editor-in-Chief of Sustainable Earth: Part 2

In the second part of this interview, Peter Newman the Editor-in-Chief of BMC’s new journal Sustainable Earth, discusses the three Ps of informing policy and how to involve the community in sustainability science and in the journal.

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Interviewer: What are the first steps when trying to reach policy makers to inform their decisions? How do you translate research published in a science journal into actual policy?

Peter: Well I think there are three Ps. The first one is plausibility. Politicians and policy makers, they have to see that it’s plausible. If it doesn’t seem to make sense, there’s no point in going on. So you present a vision of why what you’re saying is plausible about the world out there.

The second thing is, is it practical? And that means, what are the next steps that you can take? If it’s so visionary that you can’t do anything, that’s not of interest to policy makers, because they’ve got to talk about what happens now. So you’ve gotta be able to think about the next steps when you’re coming up with a piece of writing that is policy oriented.

And the third thing is proof. Now you might say, for a science journal, that you’ve got to have the proof first. It’s not what the policy makers are looking for. If you haven’t got the plausibility and the practicality lined up, there’s no point in going to the proof. But if you have, and they know then that their reputations are at stake, then you need to bring proof. And the proof is what the science is all about.

So we need to do plausible, practical, and proof-based papers.

Interviewer: Sustainability is a global issue that involves everyone, not just scientists and policy makers, so how would you include the general public in what Sustainable Earth is doing?

Peter: Well, I think the way to communicate with the general public on this is that we will be bold and beautiful. We’ll be bold because of the topics we take on. There’ll be hard, complex, difficult things that you’ll hear vaguely about but you need to know more on. And beautiful because it will present it simply and effectively and with a style and creativity. So we need to have films, and figures that can communicate well. So bold and beautiful.

Chris McEntee

Chris has an MSci in marine biology from the University of Southampton and has been working at BMC for over three years. He is now a Journal Development Editor overseeing a portfolio of environmental science journals.
Chris McEntee

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