More than a few years ago, while juggling her young children and her career, Carole King sang, “my baby’s in one hand, I’ve a pen in the other.” Scientists who have been forced by the COVID-19 pandemic to abandon laboratories and classrooms to work and teach from home would surely nod in agreement, even if they might tweak the lyric to substitute a keyboard for a pen.
During the pandemic, Oceanography has largely been able to continue operations as usual. The magazine was decades ahead of its time in adopting concepts such as “home office” and “distributed workforce”—before those terms even existed—so unlike other enterprises, we didn’t need to adjust to working remotely. The commitment of June issue authors, reviewers, and guest editors, despite the great disruptions to their lives since March, has allowed us to continue publishing, although on a delayed schedule. Oceanography has compensated for the delay by putting all of the special issue articles on its website as early releases as they were completed rather than waiting for full publication of the special issue. This policy will continue indefinitely.
While the most visible short-term consequence for Oceanography has been publication delays for special issues that were already in the works, behind the scenes, the development of future special issues is at risk. In-person conferences, workshops, and meetings—the venues where special issues are often conceived and launched—are being canceled, postponed, or conducted virtually. As a result, over the next year or two at least, it is possible that we will publish fewer special issues based on specific scientific themes or programs, the foundation of the magazine. Shortened and/or delayed field seasons may also have an impact on the timing of some potential future special issues. The long-term impact for Oceanography of publishing fewer special issues is not yet clear.
The news isn’t all bad. There has been a healthy uptick in the number of unsolicited manuscripts submitted to our regular issue feature and commentaries sections. Right now, we are particularly interested in sharing in Oceanography successful strategies for virtual classroom teaching and laboratory activities (in the broadest sense) and for conducting virtual workshops and meetings. Please consider submitting a short article to us (author guidelines at https://tos.org/oceanography/guidelines).
I wish everyone good health in these challenging times.
– Ellen S. Kappel, Editor