Society & Partner Zone Issue 18, Interviews

In the Spotlight: The Coastal & Estuarine Research Federation

The Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) is a private, non-profit non-partisan organization created in 1971. Its mission is to advance understanding and wise stewardship of estuarine and coastal eco-systems worldwide.

Society Zone in an interview with...

Society and Partner Zone spoke to Mark Wolf-Armstrong, CERF'S Executive Director, to find out more about the Federation.

Please tell us a little about yourself and your role at the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation.

CERF has about 1500 members, researchers, policy makers and scientists who study work on coastal areas and estuaries around the world. The society has a long history of public interest work around land and water issues. Its mission is to provide the best available science for anyone developing policies or managing an area and in many cases that means applied sciences surrounding, for example, fisheries, grasses, sea grasses, marshlands, and the nutrient loading of water.

I actually came from a sister society involved in habitat research and restoration. When I heard the executive director was retiring I thought – why not throw my hat in the ring? So I applied for the job.

CERF homepage

What do you think were CERF’s greatest achievements in 2012?

This year sees the first conference for the society outside the US. It’s being held on the Argentinian coast in November and will compare the coasts and estuaries of North and South America – from both sides of the equator. There are also European delegates involved.

2012 has also seen projects to expand the reach of the society, and there’s just been agreement on the establishing of a permanent student scientist attached to the society. It’s something a lot of societies talk about so we thrilled to be actually doing it. The society has also been on Capitol Hill delivering congressional briefings on wetlands and restoration. Also, our journal (Estuaries and Coasts) has reached an impact factor of 2, which was a big milestone! It’s also been a record year for manuscript submissions to the journal.

What will be some of the key areas CERF will focus on in 2013? For example, are there are new or significant projects that you can tell us about? What do you think some of the major challenges might be?

In 2013 the society will be looking forward to the San Diego conference, which will be a major event for all researchers in this field.

CERF 2013

Next year there’ll be a special edition of the journal on “the human dimension.” Humans love to live on estuaries, we like the protection of backwaters with their fish, shellfish and other sea life. Some estuaries are home to major cities, including New York, Washington and London. In fact, most of the world’s population live on the coasts of their countries; the human impact on estuaries and coasts is really interesting.

The journal is always looking for more variety in submissions and international authors, we now have associated editors all over the world. We value all sorts of content including from physical sciences, biology and social sciences and we’re looking forward to seeing what submissions we receive next year.

Springer publishes the journal, “Estuaries and Coasts” on behalf of CERF. What lead to your decision to publish with Springer? How do you think that CERF and the journal has benefited from the relationship?

The society used to self-publish the journal. In the beginning, 40 years or so ago, it was published out of someone’s living room, which is when the society was itself focussed on the Chesapeake Bay! It was always a real challenge to get the journal out and it never really took off. As things went digital it became impossible for us to continue to publish directly. The board wanted to find a professional publisher and they were looking for a wide global reach, a publisher that knew its science publishing and had a strong digital component to their work. Springer scored on all counts. Since publishing with Springer the readership has risen, as have submissions, and there are increasing downloads of articles which is creating a strong source of income for the society. Springer is taking care of all of it on our behalf. The Table of Contents alerts are particularly cool!

Estuaries and Coasts (int_link http://www.springer.com/environment/journal/12237)

What do you see as the key trends in publishing research on behalf of Federation members? Have these trends affected your plans for your journals and/or your organisation?

People now expect seamless information - no-one really wants hard copies of the journals anymore. Readers also move quickly from journal to journal and don’t necessarily care what title they’re reading – it’s the content that’s important. The open access approach is also beginning to grow and members expect the publishing work of the society to blend with the other services the organisation provides.

It’s a fun thing to do to, working out what to do to make the most of all the different tools and trends. But for younger scientists it’s all about digital.

Finally, our readers will be interested to learn that CERF has an official Estuaries Song, O'er the Estuary (taken from Magpie, by Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino). How did this song come about? Was there a particular aim or objective for developing the song?

The song was written for me actually, many years ago, by folk group Magpie. I played it at my first CERF board meeting as Executive Director. Everyone enjoyed it so I donated it to CERF and they adopted it as their theme song. Hey, maybe we should have it play when people are reading articles from the journal! Then again, maybe not, that sort of stuff can be pretty annoying! If anyone would like to listen to it, you can do so here:

Society & Partner Zone thanks Mark Wolf-Armstrong for this interview.