Book celebrates hundred issues of certitude

It was exactly 30 years ago when Slobodan P. Simonovic published the first volume of the Water Resources Research Report, also known as the Blue Book, while at the University of Manitoba.

Since bringing his research lab – the Facility for Intelligent Decision Support (FIDS) – to Western in 2000, little did the Civil and Environmental Engineering professor know he’d still be publishing and, just this past month, published Volume 101.

And he’s not stopping.

“I am very persistent person who likes what he is doing,” Simonovic said.

A century of volumes ago, Simonovic was inspired to publish the first Water Resources Research Report in order to insure the work of published researchers could be reproduced and built upon.

SIMONOVIC

“I was very rarely able to do that from the journal papers,” explained the Director of Engineering Works at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. “That was the main motivation to publish more detailed reports, include the data, examples and computer programs, so the researchers reading them could reproduce our work and get going from that point.”

While Blue Books don’t have regular publishing intervals, they come out as a product of Simonovic’s research. Publication follows progress in his lab.

“The Blue Book gave me an opportunity to discuss some practical application issues, and come up with pragmatic solutions for situations when you work with multiple decision makers that do not agree,” he said.

While the first volume back in 1987, a very detailed multi-objective assessment methodology for long-term water resources planning, and following volumes may sound very ‘inside baseball’ to most, the academic world has embraced the ongoing work of Simonovic and FIDS.

According to Western Libraries, Blue Books have been downloaded more than 70,000 times by researchers around the world.

“I almost did not believe the figures coming in the regular monthly reports from Western Libraries,” he said. “Imagine the feeling of empowerment – more than 70,000 people are reading, trying to build on what you have done and are spreading your work across the globe.

“I am fortunate to travel all around the world and there were many situations when people wanted to shake my hand or asked me to sign a book because they encountered my name reading this and that. Having such an impact makes you feel humble and very proud of your students, collaborators and your work.”