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Dr. Peter J. Riggs, Australian National University, Australia

Dr. Peter J. Riggs from the Australian National University, a physicist and philosopher of science, is exploring ways to better teach and communicate basic concepts in physics, both to improve our understanding of physics, and to prevent misconceptions from being perpetuated. His article, Energy and Mass Misconceptions was published open access in Physics Education, under the transformative agreement with the Council of Australian University Librarians.

Congratulations on your latest paper. Why is the theme of your article, people’s understanding of energy and mass, important? 

Much of my research examines the foundations of physics. The nature of energy and mass are essential concepts in this field of science. Energy, for instance, is fundamental to all physical processes but still needs to be better understood. 

Reading your article gives the impression that you are worried about the current state of physics education. Do you have any personal motivation for studying this topic? 

In parallel to my research endeavours, I have a strong desire to communicate basic physics concepts clearly and intelligibly.  This arises, in part, because as a student, I found that the teaching of such concepts was not always accurately done, and there was insufficient attention to student understanding.  

What are some specific real-life applications of your research and how will they affect people’s lives in the long term? 

A better understanding of the nature of energy will likely assist in finding new ways to develop and utilise non-polluting / environmentally friendly sources of energy. Such energy sources will be crucial in the fight against global warming. 

You published this article through a transformative agreement (TA) with IOP Publishing. How was the experience? 

IOP Publishing has made publishing through the TA with the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) an easy process. Publishing open access now takes no more effort than what was required before the CAUL agreement came into effect. 

What do you think are the benefits of publishing through a TA? 

There are some major advantages, especially the degree to which one’s articles may now be read by physicists, physics teachers and anyone who is interested, at no cost to themselves or their institutions. 

What is your advice for authors who want to publish open access through TAs? 

In light of the advantages of publishing open access, I would encourage other researchers and physics education professionals to seek out relevant journals with transformative agreements.