April 2011 // Volume 49 // Number 2 // Editorial // 2ED1
A Few Words About References
In "A Few Words About References," the editor points to some problems with the References sections of JOE Submissions: no JOE citations, only JOE citations, no scholarly citations at all, citations that appear in References sections but not in articles, and inconsistently/incorrectly spelled author names. In "April JOE," she calls special attention to the two Commentaries and the first Feature.
A Few Words About References
Lately, I've encountered a number of problems with References sections of JOE Submissions, and I'm taking this opportunity to address them.
The JOE Submission Guidelines state the following: "All JOE submissions are expected to contain scholarly citations, including citation of relevant JOE articles." Some authors fail to cite relevant JOE article, and I send their submissions back for revision before accepting them as suitable for review or publication (depending on article category).
However, other authors have taken this to mean that citing JOE articles only is sufficient. Sometimes, depending on the topic, it is, but often, it isn't. JOE is certainly not the only scholarly journal with articles relevant to JOE topics. Authors are expected to do a comprehensive lit search when preparing submissions.
Still other authors cite no scholarly works at all, which is worse. See my August 2007 Editor's Page, "What's Wrong with Skimpy References Sections?" This is one of many documents on the Help for JOE Authors page that are intended to provide—you guessed it—help for JOE authors. This current Editor's Page will be joining them.
The submission guidelines also explain that References sections "should include only those sources cited in the article," and a few authors ignore this stricture. Your References sections are not bibliographies containing citations of all the articles you may have read in preparing your article. They are to contain only those works you actually refer to or cite in your article.
To catch this problem, in my initial review I usually do a spot check of a few citations in References sections to make sure the works cited there also are cited in the article. Alas, this method only works when authors' surnames are spelled the same way in the References section and article. In the case of a few hurried, careless JOE authors, they aren't. The lesson here is that JOE authors should police their References carefully—please.
I'm happy to report that two more good, challenging Commentaries appear in this issue. In the first Commentary, "Regionalization With or Without Specialization: A Call for a National Research Agenda," author George W. Morse argues that "implementation of a national agenda of high-quality research on regionalization and specialization is needed to protect Extension's historic mission." Whether you favor regionalization or thinks it's inevitable or not, you should surely read this Commentary.
In the second, "Advancing the Public Value Movement: Sustaining Extension During Tough Times," author Nancy K. Franz argues that "the Extension public value banner needs to be held high as we struggle to change the perception of our work by addressing this as a 'movement' in our organizational development and not a 'response' to the economic environment." Franz cites a 2004 JOE article by Laura Kalambokidis, "Identifying the Public Value in Extension programs."
This leads me to straight to the first Feature in the April 2011 issue, also by Kalambokidis, "Spreading the Word About Extension's Public Value." There, she explains that "the idea that Extension can build support for its programs by highlighting how they benefit people who have no contact with the programs has taken root in the Extension system" and that "providing Extension program teams with resources, training, and leadership can lead to a body of public value messages that can infuse Extension's stakeholder communications." Kalambokidis points out that we are pretty good at proving our programs' private value, direct benefit to program participants, but need to get better at proving public value, that our "programs induce participants to act in ways that benefit others in the community."
It's an article that's well worth reading, as are the other articles in yet another fine issue.