AN INTERVIEW WITH DR. HAB. PIOTR WACHOWIAK, PROF. SGH, SGH VICE-RECTOR, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF THE SGH PUBLISHING HOUSE
Which reform of higher education is it in your academic career?
It is the fourth reform in my academic career, but it must be said that the present reform is fundamental although it affects SGH to a lesser extent.
Due to the fact that our university adopted the reform of studies almost thirty years ago, one of the main goals of today's Act 2.0. is a problem for other universities, we've had it behind us for a long time. In principle, it can be said that the statutory solutions were modelled on what we accomplished under the 1990 reform. As you know, studies at SGH are not assigned to individual organisational units but to the entire university. That is why we have single fields of study, and at many universities the same field of study is located, for example, in three faculties, which now have to be combined into one field of study and it may be difficult. In my opinion the change introduced thirty years ago worked out because our students are satisfied with the quality of teaching at our university, as evidenced by the positive assessments of the Polish Accreditation Committee in all our fields of study, some have a merit grade.
What is a challenge for SGH in the new legal regulations?
The new act introduced many changes, establishing bodies, non-existent so far, such as for example: the university council, doctoral school, and we had to face all this. The most important changes concern, among others, the method of evaluation to which organisational units and universities in scientific disciplines have not been subjected so far. What is essential is linking the results of evaluation with eligibility to confer academic degrees, as well as with powers to independently create fields of study and the impact of evaluation on the amount of university funding and access to certain financial sources. The method of financing the university's activity underwent transformation - several grants were combined into one funding stream in the form of a subsidy, allowing more freedom to decide on the allocation of funds, the model of teaching doctoral students was altered as well.
Due to the fact that a new division in the fields of study was introduced, SGH found itself in the field of social sciences (we were placed in the field of economic sciences and presented various disciplines in the indicated field until now) and we represent primarily three disciplines: economics and finance, management and quality sciences, political sciences and administration and perhaps - the law. Combining two disciplines into one was a big problem for us. Until recently, before the regulation was introduced, economics and finance were treated separately. At the moment, economics is combined with finance that has generated a vast discipline at the university.
Whether discipline councils will be created or not depends on our new constitution - a new university statute which will be effective from October 1 this year. It is worth mentioning that the statute was adopted unanimously during the May meeting of the SGH Senate. I would like to thank the entire university community for being involved and interested in its statute as well as for passing on comments. The statute provides for the establishment of disciplinary councils in all the disciplines to which our employees have applied and who will constitute an appropriate number, i.e. over twelve people.
The system of educating doctoral students has been thoroughly reshaped. What does the situation look like at SGH?
The SGH Doctoral School is one of those new products. Until now, doctoral studies were conducted by individual collegia, now it will be one school. We want the newly established school to be elite, providing a high level education. We focus on the individualisation of cooperation between a doctoral student and a professor. Studies at the SGH Doctoral School have been planned to be started in three disciplines with five programmes. The discipline of economics and finance – will involve programmes in the field of economics in Polish and English and finance in Polish. The discipline of political science and administration – will have a programme in Polish. The discipline of management and quality science – will have a programme in Polish. The indicated programmes are individualised to suit the specialty area, the number of lectures will be because the aforementioned studies are primarily going to prepare for conducting research and writing a doctoral dissertation. Each doctoral student will receive a scholarship, and will also be required to prepare an Individual Research Plan, the implementation of which will be evaluated by the commission at mid-term of studies. The abovementioned issues guarantee a high quality studies.
The changes covered by the reform, although smaller than expected, apply to publishing houses that publish scientific monographs. However, the reform started earlier at SGH. The plans for the 2016-2020 term of office presented by the university authorities in 2016 included, among others, postulates such as increasing the rank of SGH Publishing House. What actions have been taken to increase the publisher's rank and what activities are planned by the end of the term?
The first implemented activity concerns the establishment of the Programme Council of the SGH Publishing House, an advisory body of the editor-in-chief of the Publishing House. One of the council's initiatives was to conduct a survey among the authors to obtain their assessment of the work of the publishing house. Two main conclusions regarding the acceleration of the publishing process and the increase in publishing promotion were developed on its basis. We try to implement the proposals. Next: in accordance with the requirements and assessment of publishing houses, which has already taken place and will probably be continued, a detailed instruction was created describing the course of the publishing process Publishing procedures and the principles of cooperation which is a very important document guaranteeing a very good quality of our publications. In addition to describing the publishing procedure itself, which is important to the authors, the issues regarding the course of work reviews are raised, including the initial internal and two external reviews made by reviewers not related to our university, and there is a requirement for the author to respond to reviews, which is to guarantee a high quality of publication.
The substantive, linguistic and statistical editing of the developed scientific monographs is equally important. The publishing house employs highly qualified people specialising in scientific publications. It is known that the authors focus primarily on fast publishing of their works. However, we tried to find a compromise between the speed of publication and its quality in the publishing procedure. The low level and poor quality publications are not affordable in our publishing.
From the very beginning, the SGH publishing house intended to publish economic classics. Are the indicated traditions continued and does our publishing house aspire to be of importance on the publishing market, or even compete with external economic publishers?
In January this year, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education published a List of scientific publications, which, according to Act 2.0, will be used to evaluate book publications in the years 2017–2020. The list includes 536 publishing houses: 36 only foreign ones with a global reputation at level 2 and 500 national publishing houses at level 1. This is not a fair distribution and we commented on that, in our opinion there should be a third, middle category – publishing houses that stand out. However, among the indicated 500 publishing houses there are no bad ones. Currently there are about three and a half thousand publishers on the market. Therefore, being in the group together with such publishing houses as John Wiley & Sons, Palgrave Macmillan, Pearson, Springer, Wolters Kluwer or PWE, PWN - is already a distinction.
Of course, we have greater ambitions, we intend the SGH Publishing House to aspire to the group of the best publishers, which is why we plan to establish a publishing strategy in autumn, after developing the university's strategy and on its basis. It may encourage more external authors to publish in our publishing house, although they are already choosing the SGH publishing house. We also insist on a larger number of monographs in English, the number of such publications is growing every year and our efforts will be oriented at this direction. Similar activities will be undertaken to acquire good foreign publications that we would like to translate into Polish. This is one of the tasks of the Programme Council of the SGH Publishing House, the new chairwoman of the board, prof. Beata Czarnacka-Chrobot, is stronly involved in the indicated area of science and I think that acting jointly with the Council she will suggest appropriate solutions.
Our employees were almost enthusiastic about the possibility of sharing scientific works in open resources, but so far there have not been many publications. Can the publishing house contribute to the development of this repository?
We cannot force anyone to open access publishing, we provide encouragement, we conduct promotional campaigns and workshops. There is an Open Science Day at SGH organised as part of the International Open Access Week. I think that institutional solutions will promote it because it guarantees that works are better known, cited and certainly this is what counts.
Complying with the rules of depositing files in the SGH Digital Open Repository (COR), adopted in the publishing procedures of the publishing house, after publication of the work in print in COR SGH the following items may be filed: cover, table of contents, introduction, editorial page, description, e.g. a fragment of a review, and a link to the bookstore of the SGH Publishing House enabling the purchase of books. The results of statutory research are published after the approval of the Vice-Rector for Science and Management. Immediately after being published, magazines, jubilee monographs and conference publications are forwarded to COR. The monographs will be filed one year after their publication, unless their sale ends earlier. Albums and manuals are not forwarded to COR.
One of the tasks planned by you is to intensify the activities promoting the publishing house. Will there be a new opening along with a new strategy?
We started preparing, we're almost ready to publish e-books. A new SGH bookstore will start operating at the beginning of the academic year. There were formal problems with it because our building is historical and we had to obtain proper consents. We have already obtained them. There are no obstacles to launch a new bookshop containing our publications, as well as the publications of other publishing houses. We hope that the bookstore having the character of a living room for reading books, newspapers, over coffee or tea will facilitate the increase in sales, we are planning to organise meetings with authors and other events there. We undertake various promotional activities, online sales of our books have increased significantly in recent years and the indicated manner of selling books is developing very well.
When one looks at the tasks of a publishing house, it turns out that it is involved in a lot of activities, such as editing, small printing, brochures, tablets, etc. Is the aforementioned structure effective? And one more thing - probably there are not many units needed at the university that operate in such difficult conditions. We know the limitations of the university but is there any hope for a change of location that could raise the prestige of the publishing house?
When we expand, I think that there will be a better place for the publishing house. But we must also take into account the fact that we are facing two major challenges - renovation of building A and the main building. Firstly, we need to finish the indicated renovations, which will happen within three years, erect the building at Batorego and then we will think about the new location, not only of the printing house. The University Council, Discipline Council, SGH Doctoral School must also have their places, and the university is not made of rubber. I know that this location is not the best, but we will deal with this problem together with the Chancellor, who is very involved in improving the conditions of our university.
As for the multitude of duties, these are important tasks related to the functioning of the university. Some time ago they were transfered to the publishing house and it fulfills them brilliantly. Now, when the university system changes and the statute enters into force, one may wonder whether and how to improve the publishing house's operations.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity and thank all employees of our publishing house for their great commitment to its activities.
Thank you for the conversation.
The programme Council of the SGH Publishing House is the editor-in-chief ‘s advisory body of the SGH Publishing House. Its tasks include the support provided to the editor-in-chief, in particular through opinions or recommending courses of action, including the programme assumptions of the SGH Publishing House, and issuing opinions on the scheme of its activities and the publishing plan.
dr hab. Beata Czarnacka-Chrobot, prof. SGH
prof. dr hab. Mirosława
Janoś-Kresłoprof. dr hab. Jolanta Mazur
prof. dr hab. Tomasz Panek
dr hab. Andrzej Gałązka
prof. SGH dr Paweł Dec