UQ and Nature launch new open access journal

2 Feb 2015

Nature Publishing Group has partnered with The University of Queensland to publish npj Science of Learning, a new open access research journal that will explore the neurobiology of learning in experimental and educational environments.

UQ researcher Professor Pankaj Sah of the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) has been appointed Editor-in-Chief of the new journal.

Professor Sah’s work centres on understanding the amygdala, an area of the brain involved in emotional processing, and he is Deputy Director (Research) at QBI, and Director of the Australian Research Council’s Science of Learning Research Centre (SLRC).

“The merger of neuroscience with education we are currently seeing has the same potential that the union of medical science had with biology in the health revolution of the last century,” Professor Sah said.

“These are exciting times for neuroscience, and the science is taking us from the molecular and cellular understanding of brain function all the way to the classroom, and the journal is about trying to understand not only how we learn, but how we can learn better.”

Despite record funding – $63.7 billion was invested in Australian schools over three years from 2009‑10 – educational outcomes have not improved, with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) figures showing that Australian educational results have slipped behind.

Professor Sah said that education needs to be treated like health, and the outcomes of new teaching strategies should be tested and evaluated before implementation in classrooms.

“You would never release a new drug to the market without it going through clinical trials, and likewise education methods should be properly tested,” he said.

UQ President and Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Høj said the University was proud to support the npj Science of Learning which would disseminate scholarly literature in one of the most exciting frontiers of modern education.

“The insights gained from neurobiology and the ‘science of learning’, including big data from our edX MOOCs offerings, will help educators all over the world to refine approaches to learning and support better outcomes for students,” Professor Høj said.

“UQ is proud to host the Australian Research Council’s only Science of Learning Centre which combines education, psychology and neuroscience to improve learning outcomes and we are delighted to support this open access research journal to widely distribute emerging knowledge in this important field.”

Martin Delahunty, Global Head of Partnerships, Open Research at Nature Publishing Group said: “At Nature Publishing Group, we’re committed to science and education – the science of learning seemed like the obvious choice for a new Nature Partner Journal. It’s an area which is currently underserved, with most authors submitting to broader neuroscience journals, and we wanted to offer an open access option.

“We’re delighted to partner with The University of Queensland, who in in conjunction with the Queensland Brain Institute are conducting some incredibly interesting research in this area.”

The open access format of the journal means that all articles will be free to read upon publication, enabling greater reach to the wider community interested in this topic, from researchers to school teachers.

UQ is currently collaborating with universities and state governments across Australia under the SLRC, with funding until the end of 2016, and has built its own Educational Neuroscience Classroom to understand the biological processes that occur during learning situations.

To launch the journal, UQ, QBI and Nature Publishing Group, will hold a symposium on the Science of Learning on the 24th April 2015 in Brisbane, Australia, attended by Philip Campbell, Editor-in-Chief of Nature, Mariette DiChristina, Editor-in-Chief and Senior Vice President of Scientific American, as well as Dr Jonathan Sharples from the Institute for Effective Education, The University of York and other leading academics and researchers.

The journal is online here and open for submissions now.

Media: Darius Koreis, +61 7 3346 6353, d.koreis@uq.edu.au; Professor Pankaj Sah, Queensland Brain Institute, +61 7 3346 6376, pankaj.sah@uq.edu.au