Interview with Specialty Chief Editor Joseph B. Stanford

Interview with Specialty Chief Editor Joseph B. Stanford

Joseph B. Stanford is Professor and Director of the Office of Cooperative Reproductive Health, Division of Public Health, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, and Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pediatrics, University of Utah School of Medicine.

He has been the principal investigator or co-investigator for five preconception cohort studies, and has served on national scientific advisory committees for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Professor Stanford is also a Specialty Chief Editor for Frontiers in Public Health for the new section “Population, Reproductive and Sexual Health.” He has a clear and innovative vision of where he plans to take the section that involves crossing traditional boundaries so researchers can share insights.

He says one of the things he loves about Public Health “is the confluence of biological, medical, and social sciences inherently needed to address the breadth and depth of the important research questions in the field.”

Why did you join Frontiers in Public Health as Specialty Chief Editor?

My professional training is in family medicine and public health. I’ve been in the field for over 20 years, working with investigators of different backgrounds. This has given me a great foundation for taking a broad view in examining a variety of questions around population, reproductive and sexual health. I’ve been a guest editor, peer reviewer, and of course, author.

In more recent years, I felt I would enjoy contributing to the development of the literature in a way that extends beyond my own research. I’ve had a number of invitations to serve as an editor, but none seemed to fit my goals or timing. When a colleague recommended me to develop this new section for Frontiers in Public Health, I was glad to see the track record the journal already has. Ultimately, I decided this was a good place for me to contribute.

What role will open-access play in advancing research related to reproductive and sexual health?

I believe the trends are clear for open-access publishing being the wave of the future, even though there are many issues that still need to be sorted out over time. The open-access online model facilitates a number of innovations, such as the post-publication discussion that Frontiers and other journals are pursuing.

One of the great concerns for science is replicability, which depends on reporting adequate detail for research methods. Replicability is also facilitated by a robust reporting of results. More complete reporting is facilitated by supplemental files that can become part of the published record. In addition, the publication of negative results from well-conducted research is as important as the publication of positive results. These are developments that will facilitate the progress of science in all areas, including population, sexual, and reproductive health.

What are your aspirations for the “Population, Reproductive, and Sexual Health” section?

I want the section to contribute data and theory to advance insight across disciplines relevant to this field — perhaps more accurately — this group of interconnected fields. Any particular map cannot capture the full reality of human existence, and so each discipline and scholarly perspective has something to contribute and can learn from the others. I would like this to be a welcoming place for researchers to publish data and theory from all types of ethical or political perspectives relative to population, reproductive and sexual health.

What really excites me is when scientists, who customarily don’t cross paths in their usual associations, find ways to connect and learn from each other. I would like to facilitate bridges between disciplines and dialogue between people with different ethical frameworks. I am also very interested in encouraging the professional development of future researchers in the field.

Based on your experience to date, how is being an Editor for Frontiers different than other journals?

I am still pretty new at Frontiers, but I have been very impressed with the engagement and responsiveness of the editorial staff. I also find that the online system for submitting, reviewing, revising and publishing works as well or better than other software systems I have encountered at other journals.

What are the biggest obstacles the field of reproductive and sexual health will need to overcome in the next few years?

Some of the challenges in reproductive and sexual health are common to science generally: sheer volume of data, fragmentation and duplication of effort, publication bias, and replicability.

Scientists conducting research within the various areas of population, reproductive and sexual health have a lot to learn from each other, and need to talk beyond the usual boundaries. These areas have additional unique challenges, such as methodologic issues inherent in studying fertility and pregnancy. For example, there are some reproductive events that are not yet observable, such as the in vivo events between fertilization and implantation. There is a unique combination of biological and social factors impacting fertility outcomes and population.

Looking for Editors and Research Topics

The section “Population, Reproductive and Sexual Health” launched February 2016 in Frontiers in Public Health.  As Specialty Chief Editor, Stanford is excited to make his vision a reality by creating a place where researchers can submit their work, participate in the peer-review process, and learn from each other.

Learn more about how to submit a paper or submit a Research Topic Proposal for the section.