photo of Ertugrul Taciroglu Ertugrul Taciroglu
Ertugrul Taciroglu will serve as the first editor-in-chief of the ASCE OPEN.

There are a lot of “firsts” associated with the newest ASCE journal, ASCE OPEN, which begins accepting submissions, Jan. 4.

ASCE’s first fully open-access journal.

ASCE’s first fully multidisciplinary journal.

And ASCE OPEN’s first editor-in-chief, Ertugrul Taciroglu, Ph.D., F.EMI, of the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, recently spoke with Civil Engineering Source about the new project and what kinds of articles readers and researchers should expect to read in the journal.

Civil Engineering Source: What’s your vision for the journal?

Ertugrul Taciroglu: ASCE OPEN is going to present papers that draw data, expertise, and new findings from multiple subdisciplines of civil engineering, and even perhaps articles on research efforts that are rooted in civil engineering but also bring in expertise from other disciplines, including social sciences, and economics, for example. This type of research has been going on for quite a while now in our community, and a term we keep hearing more and more for this type of work is convergence research.

There are many problems in civil engineering – especially in the areas of sustainability and resilience – that require knowledge from multiple disciplines. ASCE doesn’t have a journal that can routinely disseminate those kinds of papers. The ASCE OPEN will be the first one. I’m pretty excited about it.

Source: What inspired you to take on this role as the first chief editor for the ASCE OPEN?

Taciroglu: The most exciting aspect of this job is building it from the ground up. Other ASCE journals have been around for long periods of time – some running into many, many decades – and they have well-established workflows.

It’s great to be serving those journals – and I did that for a few of them – but the ASCE OPEN is special because it has a unique scope and doesn’t even have an editorial board yet. So, I have to recruit new people and develop a sustainable and effective workflow for the journal. There’s obviously some excitement related to that, which I enjoy.

Leading a brand-new journal for ASCE is a big responsibility, but we also have a great cohort of researchers in our community. Through my other service activities in ASCE, I’ve met a lot of them. So, while it’s a little bit nerve-racking to build a journal from the ground up, I know I will get quite a bit of support, which calms my nerves.

Source: From an author's point of view, why should an author submit to ASCE OPEN rather than one of the 34 specialty journals?

Taciroglu: Let me give you an example. Imagine that you have a researcher who is looking at the seismic resilience of a bridge network, and the conventional journal would be interested in looking at how bridges might fail under different types of earthquakes, how much time it might take to repair them, and information like that. We, of course, need to know all those things, and that kind of work would be well-suited to one of our existing specialty journals.

But, if at the same time, you’re trying to look at the impact of that damage to the bridge network and the ensuing discontinuity of services to the connected community, then you need to bring in maybe social scientists, economists, and traffic engineers to work with you. And when you get into those realms, you are kind of steering away from the core readership of a specialty journal. ASCE OPEN will be the venue for that type of work now.

And I think that's the new frontier in engineering and civil engineering research. Today, it is easier to look at the big picture because now we have at our disposal ubiquitous high-performance computing and advanced tools like machine learning. We can handle larger, more complex problems. But while we can use a bigger computer and analyze more bridges, it’ll only go so far if we don’t have the multi-, or transdisciplinary perspectives.

Source: Are there any key themes or key topics you anticipate highlighting in the journal?

Taciroglu: I think equity-based engineering, risk assessment, and design will be one of the themes that we’ll want to explore in the new journal. I think we need to assess the vulnerability of our infrastructure – not only from a hazard perspective but also from an equity perspective based on what communities our civil infrastructure is serving. 

Other topics of immediate interest are energy and the environment, food and water security, the use and management of sustainable materials, and the development of material systems for the future. Also, topics involving the use of new techniques, such as deep learning, in civil engineering applications would be of interest to ASCE OPEN. Ultimately, our community of researchers will implicitly drive the journal’s content, and the editorial board’s job will be to increase the impact of their work while assuring quality and rigor.

Source: Do you have any specific plans for ways to engage both practitioners and academics in the journal?

Taciroglu: Due to the multidisciplinary nature of this journal, I think it will automatically include a diverse cohort of authors. So, I’m definitely expecting participation and interest from practicing engineers, as well as other experts who are not in civil engineering but who are doing civil engineering-related work.

I’m expecting significant contributions from our community of practicing engineers, because I know they are already addressing many engineering problems with multidisciplinary approaches in modern projects.

Source: How do you see the open-access nature of the journal shaping the publication?

Taciroglu: First of all, ASCE already supports open publication. Authors who are willing to provide open access to their articles in any of the ASCE journals can do that already. But ASCE OPEN will be different in that it will only host open papers. Everything published in ASCE OPEN, as the name implies, will be accessible to anyone.

That’s a great feature because it automatically starts incorporating more people into the research arena. Open journals remove access barriers for many researchers. So, by having open access, by providing this to the world, we’re going to be able to engage, in essence, a larger group of brains working on important problems.

It is also important to note that many funding agencies now mandate open publication, so this will be a great venue for them to disseminate their work.

It is clear that open publishing in research will increase over time, and ASCE OPEN is breaking new ground for the civil engineering community. I’m proud to be the chief editor of such an accessible journal.

Learn more about ASCE OPEN.