What does Open Access mean to me: Journal of Humanitarian Affairs

What does Open Access mean to me: Journal of Humanitarian Affairs

Posted by Jessica Foster - Friday, 25 Oct 2019


Journal Profile

Online ISSN: 2515-6411

Published triannually

You can read every article from the Journal of Humantiarian Affairs for free online at manchesteropenhive

Top articles (from the last 6 months)

  1. The Changing Faces of UNRWA
    From the Global to the Local
    By: Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh
  2. Humanitarian Communication in a Post-Truth World
    By: Mel Bunce
  3. What’s There to Mourn? Decolonial Reflections on (the End of) Liberal Humanitarianism
    By: Olivia Umurerwa Rutazibwa

Open Access Q&A with the editors

What is the aim of the journal?

The Journal of Humanitarian Affaird aims to be a home and platform for leading thinkers on humanitarian affairs, a place where ideas are floated, controversies are aired and new research is published and scrutinised. Areas in which submissions will be considered include humanitarian financing, migrations and responses, the history of humanitarian aid, failed humanitarian interventions, media representations of humanitarianism, the changing landscape of humanitarianism, the response of states to foreign interventions and critical debates on concepts such as resilience or security.

Please can you introduce yourself and your role in producing this journal?

Michaël Neuman, MSF
I’m the coordinator and a director of studies at MSF-Crash, a sort of internal think-tank (https://www.msf-crash.org/en/crash)  within the French section of Médecins sans Frontières, whose purpose is to inspire debate and critical reflection on field practices and public positions, in order to improve the association’s actions. MSF-Crash team members conduct and direct studies and analysis of MSF actions. Our activities include Research, Assessment, Training, Advising and Dissemination. Crash team consists of people who combine field experience and university training.

I’ve joined MSF in 1999, shortly after graduating in Contemporary History and International Relations, and after that working both on the ground (Balkans, Sudan, Caucasus, West Africa) and in headquarters (New York, Paris as deputy director responsible for programmes and with the Crash since 2010). I have also carried out research on issues of immigration and geopolitics. I’ve co-editing two books: “Humanitarian negotiations Revealed, the MSF experience” (London: Hurst and Co, 2011) and “Saving lives and staying alive. Humanitarian Security in the Age of Risk Management” (London: Hurst and Co, 2016).

Fernando Espada, Save the Children UK
I’m Fernando Espada, Head of Humanitarian Affairs at Save the Children UK. The goal of the work I do together with my colleague Juliano Fiori (Head of Studies and also an editor of the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs) is to foster a culture of critical thinking within Save the Children through research and policy. We, the Humanitarian Affairs Team, serve as a counterpoint to the programmatic and technical expertise our colleagues providing insight into the political, social, economic and cultural dynamics that shape and are shaped by humanitarian action.

Why did you choose to make the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs open access, and how does this fit with your aims for the journal?

Michaël Neuman, MSF
Part of the endeavour of the Crash is to support MSF social mission through research. We are very keen to seek support from social sciences, both in terms of what they can provide methodologically and in terms of knowledge. We also strongly believe in the value of encounters between the academia and the world of practitioners. In that regards, the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs offers a great opportunity as a platform for dissemination of research on humanitarianism, drawing from practices and different disciplines (sociology, history, anthropology, economy, law…) and of experiences by practitioners themselves.

Fernando Espada, Save the Children UK
We never had any doubt that the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs had to be open access. Putting the journal behind a paywall, limiting the ability or our colleagues to read and share the content, would defy the very reason why we believe this initiative is worthwhile.

Save the Children is the world’s leading independent children’s organisation and also one of the oldest NGOs (a hundred years old in 2019). Given the size of Save the Children, the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs might look like a drop in the ocean, but it is a key tool to stimulate reflection within the organisation, and across the humanitarian sector, on what successful humanitarian practice and governance look like and help overcome obstacles to improving humanitarian action.

Why is open access important to you and what are its benefits for both readers and contributors?

Michaël Neuman, MSF
In the current environment of publishing business, access to information and research for practitioners is both crucial and very limited. It would have been quite unhelpful to launch another “pay-walled” review. Open Access does not guarantee access and many efforts are needed to disseminate the articles amongst colleagues of the aid sector. Yet, it is an absolute pre-condition: even in my current position, I have very limited access to traditional academic journals.

Fernando Espada, Save the Children UK
I find paywalls incredibly frustrating. It is a frustration shared by many colleagues in NGOs, where journal subscriptions are not an option. Those constraints are even more acute for national and local NGOs. We want the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs to be read by all those interested, not only those lucky enough to have an institutional subscription to academic databases. Also, an open access journal is, hopefully, less intimidating for contributors outside scholarly circles and those not familiar with the often-arcane world of academic publishing.

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