CResearch and Education Infrastructure
C-2 What about new ways to release research findings and "open science"?

Making Books Open Access: Interview series 4

Using KURA’s program to convert foreign-language books open access, more than 40 books/book chapters were made open access. In our interviews with researchers who used this program, we asked about the purpose and benefit of doing so.

Associate Professor Spring H. Han, Graduate School of Management

Ph.D. (Tourism), Graduate School of Tourism & Hospitality, Kyonggi University. Postdoctoral fellowship in Michigan State University. Specializes in service marketing and hospitality management. Her current research interests include sensory marketing, emotions and service experience, and healthcare service management. She has published research papers in distinguished journals, including Cornell Hospitality Quarterly and Service Science.

[Websites ]
Kyoto University Educational Research Activities Database
Homepage of Graduate School of Management

Dr. Han’s edited volume The Future of Service Post-COVID-19 Pandemic, Volume 1 (pub. Springer, co-edited with Jungwoo Lee) was made open access in the 2020 academic year from the date of publication.

■Idea of the book

——We would like to start with the statistics. Here is the number of downloads of your Open Access book. When I saw it last month, it was 13,000 and now it crossed 14,000. So it is doing very well.

Han: I’m impressed. I didn’t expect that much.

——The title, The Future of Service Post-COVID-19 Pandemic, is very attractive. There is now an increasing focus on digital transformation, and I guess that people are keen to learn how the services are going to be not only changed but totally transformed by using digital technology. In a way, your book discusses how the service industry goes through that process.

Han: Yes.

——How did you initially come up with this book idea?

Han: My co-author, Jungwoo Lee, an expert of smart technology, information management, and information technology management, and I had been working on a project about mobile technology adoption in hotel industries, and then we saw a lot of changes with the COVID pandemic and everyone was so worried about traveling or going abroad, even inside local tourism as well. We got the idea that not only researchers but also other people might have interesting ideas on how to come up with or transform the changes with the COVID pandemic and these technologies.

——Did you have this book idea even before the COVID was declared a pandemic? I was wondering how the book came out so timely.

Han: I see. Before COVID, in 2013 and 2014, I studied technology adoption in the hospitality industries. Hotels need a lot of human touch but there are labor shortages. The younger generations are not willing to work for entry-level hospitality positions, and thus they are struggling. One of the solutions is that the hospitality industry adopts automated technology, or provides better technology to take the positions, the entry-level or easy jobs. I saw they were changing little by little.

■Diverse authors

——So you have been interested in the subject. But how did you manage to deal with these diverse topics? There are chapters dealing with digital health, higher education, and other services.

Han: Working with someone from a different discipline made it possible to create this book. I’ve been in service and hospitality communities, and Prof. Lee has been in information technology and technology-oriented communities. We distributed a call for chapters and we received a lot of applications and abstracts. Many people wanted to be a part of this book.

——Was it originally planned as a journal special issue, or did you just call for contributors specifically for this book project?

Han: For this book project. We received more than 100 abstracts for the two volumes.

——Through Prof. Lee’s network or the networks of both of you?

Han: Both of us. He has been in technology management and I’ve been in service and hospitality management and the business in common. So we distributed a call for chapters for the communities we have been involved in.

——How did people from industry get to know your call or how did you get in touch with them? Did you have prior contact with them?

Han: It was through Facebook groups and some communities. I’m part of a community of scholars in service study, and we share information about, for instance, conferences or calls for special issues for journals. So I posted the call for chapters there and also I used LinkedIn. When I uploaded the information I got more than 2000 or 3000 views of the call for chapters. It was the power of SNS. Maybe people are also in need of something to do or need to share their experiences. Right after the COVID pandemic started, people had to stop, lock down, and close the doors, and that probably gives them the time to go for papers and create a book.

——Then you selected contributors. I guess it was a lot of work. How did you review so many proposals? Have you had similar experiences before?

Han: Yes. I am part of the editorial board of Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, and I have been invited to review academic papers for about 10 years. And last year around April and May, at the time of the first lockdown, was a time for us just to review all the applications. At that time we could not go out.

——I think that it might also be the reason that some contributors in industry were able to join and having diverse authors is the strength of this book.

Han: For this book, we worked closely and discussed many times how to improve the book chapters with authors. We had a conference call for every chapter because we wanted to improve the manuscript to the level of perfection we expected. The authors were also really cooperative.


——Now I want to ask you about the timelines. When did you have this plan and make the open call? And how long did it take to set?

Han: It was very fast. We decided to call for chapters around February and March 2020. We proposed the book to Springer around the same time and it didn’t take more than a month because we asked many times and it was really timely and we really wanted to publish this book. And then the call for chapters was made in April and May and we only gave one month to submit abstracts. In a month we got this number of applications.

——In February 2020, the COVID was only coming. Was the title already there when you opened the call?

Han: Yes, the book title, The Future of Service Post-COVID-19 Pandemic, was there from the beginning. We could see some trends divided by two; one was technology adoption and the other was service transformation and marketing related.

——So volume one is more technology oriented and volume two is more focused on the service side. As the title suggests, you were ahead of time for everything!

Han: I was actually very fast. I decided just to move and go for it.

——In April and May, you got all the abstracts, reviewed everything, and came up with the final list of people?

Han: Yes.

——And then everyone started writing. When was the submission of the chapters?

Han: The end of August.

——Did everybody submit by then?

Han: Some of them were late, but . . .

——But unless they submit a chapter they can’t be part of this book, so I’m sure everybody did. We got your application for OA conversion in December, and at that time it was still in production.

Han: In the process of publication. We received all the manuscripts by the end of August and we reviewed again and gave them some feedback on how to improve it once again. At the end of September we decided which chapters should be in which volume, and then at the end of October we passed it to Springer. They prepared to publish the book and it came out at the end of January or February this year.

——You also cited many of the COVID-related work already in this book. I was impressed that you and others published very quickly, responding to the pandemic.

■Copy editing

——After you collected all the chapters, did you ask for professional copy editing?

Han: It was a requirement for the authors. After receiving the final versions we asked them to get it edited by a professional editing service. It was mandatory for them.

——So that was part of the conditions to be accepted.

Han: Otherwise, it would have been very hard.

——For many Japanese authors who want to translate their PhD theses into English and publish them, copy editing is a big hurdle. We are often asked if we know good copy editors, but it depends on the discipline. Editors have to be familiar with academic writing as well as the specific terms in each discipline. But other people say that it’s actually better to stick to English writing and not to be too familiar with the discipline itself; otherwise there will be some conflict. Do you have experience in using copy editors?

Han: Of course, English is not my first language. I’m Korean. When I started writing in English, it wasn’t that easy. Japanese or people whose first language is not English will have to practice the way of thinking in English because it is a bit different among languages. When I write in Korean I automatically think differently. If they write something in Japanese and translate it into English, it will be very hard.

——There is a service called polishing. Copy editing only checks the grammar and the like, but polishing also changes the structure. We are still exploring what would be the best way to advise, but what we always recommend is to find your own copy editor so that they will become familiar with your work.

Han: I’ve been working in different countries and they have their own languages, but if they want to share their own knowledge then they will have to change their mindset to writing in English. I think that’s the best way. If they just want to translate their mother language into English, it wouldn’t work. If they want a broader readership, then they have to do that.

■Open access

——How was the overall experience?

Han: This edited book was my first book, but I was really thankful to KURA for supporting this project. It was really beneficial for students in poor countries. I received several emails from Nigeria. They did not have any access to a library or something. And from China as well. They cannot access Google but they could download it from a website.

——Was there any comment about the book? Did they benefit from the book?

Han: Yes, of course, especially students. When they write something they need some references. That is what is going on in academia. But when they wanted to write an academic paper related to COVID pandemic, they couldn’t find any COVID pandemic issues, recent pandemic issues. So they could get some benefit out of this publication.

——It’s really encouraging for us to know that there was good feedback. I understand that students from developing countries cannot put in enough references unless it’s made open access. Regardless of nationality, people have access to open access materials. That’s the beauty of open access and open science.

Han: In that point of view I really appreciate KURA’s support and their generosity.

——We are grateful that your publication came at the right time. We do not always have a budget, and at that time Springer didn’t have a retrospective open-access plan, though now they have changed. So now it’s changing, but I think yours was probably the first to do production and open access together.

Han: One more thing I’d like to mention is that many professors or researchers prepare a book or edit a book just for their list of publications. Making a book is just for the sake of making a book. But I didn’t want to do that. If many people can read and get something out of it, that will be great. So it wasn’t a book project only for the sake of the book itself, but it was a book for readers.

■Service industry and scholars

——Everyone was at a loss of what to do with the sudden cancellation of conferences and field trips. And the hotel industry, the field you’re working in, is in crisis as an industry.

Han: Right.

——And nobody knew what the right thing to do was, but you were quietly but steadily preparing to publish. I haven’t checked the volume two, but I’m sure people in the industry will benefit.

Han: There are some chapters from industry in this book. Chapter one of volume two was from the Maldives. How a hotel chain in the Maldives tried to . . .

——The author is not an academic?

Han: No, a human resources director. A lot of employees in one isolated island cannot go anywhere. He mentioned how they tried to manage human resources in a remote area and how to encourage them to stay positive. The author of another chapter is the founder of a resort in Columbia in the Amazon. They started a project of building a resort in a remote area right inside the Amazon and they had to stop because of the COVID pandemic and they hired and worked with local people.

——The service industry is very interesting. It’s everywhere in the world, but it has so many different cultures and different experiences and local realities.

Han: The standard is different. What is service and what is good quality? When we are talking about service quality, what is good service? When we say quality is good, what is the quality of this service? We are often discussing this.

——And it has so much to do with the economy and people’s lives. Where are the service scholars that you mentioned from?

Han: Everywhere. I’ve been working in different countries, America, Russia, in Moscow, European countries, China, and now Japan. So I have a diverse background and family and friends.

Even in poor countries there are service scholars, and they want to improve their services. The transportation system, for example, is very poor in developing countries. What matters is infrastructure, but these scholars are endeavoring to include the service perspective for developing infrastructure. That is a very good try, I think.

——I haven’t read through, but the chapter dealing with the case of Malaysian hospitals seems to be very interesting; how the pandemic and technology perception can contribute to the effective use of technology among physicians. In this case, digital transformation was clearly happening. The way people use the technology changed the experience and the practice of the conventional way of conducting medicine.

Han: And also in the Italian hospital case, open access matters. I didn’t even think about it.

——In Japan access to health information is still very limited, so we should change the situation.

■Open science

——I would like to ask more about open science. Open science is receiving growing attention. The European Commission, for example, prioritizes open science. Many people say that the traditional conference style should also change because it is not fair that only those who have money to travel can afford to meet and build a community among themselves and cite among themselves. Do you see that kind of change in the way you conduct your research?

Han: I believe so. When we were preparing this book we wanted to talk with the authors. With just a written text we could not see or feel what they really wanted to say in their chapters. So with the online conference call, we discussed several times and we could see what kind of human needs they had inside. They have something not only for sharing academically but to say to the world.

Many researchers used to target highly ranked journals and publish in journals with high impact factors. But the impact factor merely means studies published in a journal are referred to by some other papers. If the study is only needed for improving the number of citations, it’s nothing. Some papers in highly ranked journals are not very effective on how to live people’s lives or to do their business or anything related to the real world. But if we adopt open access and share our research work with as many people as possible, then we may learn something different from each other.

——It might also be true for journal special issues, but something as big as a book could make this kind of deep interaction possible.

Han: Yes, and for journal articles I think many researchers or professors tend to make biased judgements. Maybe I’m the same. They know what they know, but they are not quite open-minded when they read papers and write harsh reviews, recommendations, and rejection letters. But if we could have more of these kinds of opportunities and chances, then we may have more perspectives and opinions from different fields and different industries.

——The policy-level people in Japan are saying that the new law to promote science and technology and innovation covers not only natural science and technology but also social science and humanities. The government is keen to promote something called sogochi, which means comprehensive knowledge. The definition of comprehensive knowledge will be discussed further, but I think that they are basically trying to make the knowledge open and accessible by society in general and the different disciplines work together. It is transdisciplinary research that they want to promote. Your work with the information technology expert and people in society is in line with the new policy.

You might have been doing that throughout your research, but this was an occasion to reach out to different countries and different sets of people in industry. Was that a new experience for you

Han: Yes, it was a new experience. I might briefly meet different people at conferences, but it wouldn’t last more than one hour. You interact a little bit and say goodbye. But for the book project, we could get to know each other more and have better conversations by email and conference calls. We still keep in touch with many of them, and they are looking forward to another opportunity to work together. It was a really good experience and I am thinking of organizing a conference in Kyoto, not an online conference because we’ve done that so many times, and they’ll be happy to come.

——I believe so. Kyoto is such a nice place to have a conference.

Han: A very good destination.

——In a way you already answered, but do you think this book experience will affect the way you conduct research in the future?

Han: Yes. I think I’ve already changed. It may not be a good idea to target only highly ranked journals to improve citation numbers. I want to share more experiences with people who really need something new, something different, a wide variety of perspectives, and open-mindedness.

——Thank you very much for sharing your stimulating experience.

Interview Date: 22 December 2021