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[LAUSANNE] An online journal focusing on the emerging field of engineering for development was formally launched this week at a technology for development conference in Switzerland.

Development Engineering, which published its first issue two weeks ago, covers technological solutions to extreme poverty. The open-access journal plans to increase coauthorship between researchers from developed and developing countries. Funding is being sought for a mentorship programme to support this aim.

“It’s important to not hide or throw away failures because they also are illuminating what doesn’t work.”

Ashok Gadgil, Development Engineering

Speaking at the event about the need for the journal, coeditor-in-chief Ashok Gadgil said students and academics face pressure to publish in high-impact journals to advance their careers, which means few faculty can invest time and expertise in this less-established interdisciplinary field. He said this means there is too little sharing of lessons learned or failures in development engineering.

“This journal is a step to address that,” the India-born Gadgil told the event.

The journal’s priorities are to encourage transparent reporting of research and data, and to encourage papers by researchers from developing nations. For example, it plans to provide extra funding to allow them more time to improve their papers and to team them up with researchers from the developed world who will act as mentors.

However, the mentorship programme requires external funding, Gadgil told SciDev.Net. “We are in discussions with some foundations, but we haven’t got the cheque in the bank,” he said.

The journal, published by Elsevier, is free to access, but authors must pay to publish a paper. The maximum publication fee is US$1,500 for research and review papers, and US$1,000 for shorter papers. Developing country authors are charged on a sliding scale below that so rich countries subsidise poor countries, Gadgil said.

But Dinesh Surroop, a chemical and environmental engineer at the University of Mauritius, said the fees will be “prohibitive” for many developing country authors unless they are paid as part of a funded project. One paper in the journal’s first volume describes a project to trial a radio frequency identification tag to measure the stock and turnover of microenterprises in Sri Lanka. The tag failed to improve on informal record keeping for most products.

“Failures are fine, and we’ll publish failures as well as successes,” said Gadgil. “It’s important to not hide or throw away failures because they also are illuminating what doesn’t work.”

Articles for the second volume will be accepted until the end of the year.