Late in 2008, Essential Science Indicators
Reutersnamed Vadose Zone Journal
Rising Star in the field of Geosciences. The
journal's current record in the database includes 559
papers cited a total of 2,098 times between January 1,
1998 and December 31, 2008.
Vadose Zone Journal was founded in 2002, and is
published by the Soil Science Society of America
(SSSA), with the cooperation of the Geological Society
talks with Editor Jan Hopmans about the journal's history
and citation record.
Did you expect Vadose Zone Journal to
become highly cited, or is this surprising to you?
Vadose Zone Journal (VZJ) was launched in 2002, and its
first published impact factor rating in 2007 was 1.56—a solid number
in the geosciences disciplines—indicating that the scientific
community was hungry for high-quality articles addressing gaps in vadose
zone research issues. That being said, it was indeed surprising to find out
that an impact was made so relatively quickly.
Would you give us a brief history of the
VZJ is published by the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA),
with the Geological Society of America (GSA) serving as a collaborator. The
first issue appeared in 2002. Its inception and goals were formulated for
many years, ultimately convincing the leadership of SSSA to publish a new
journal. From the outset, the vision of VZJ was to be an
electronic journal, with all activities that come along with publication
using the web and email. Since publication of the first issue, many changes
to the electronic infrastructure of publishing have been improved, leading
to a user-friendly environment for authors, reviewers, and the editorial
How would you account for the high citation rate of
About the cover
Fluid flow through
simulated using the
method as described
Mass Fractal Porous
Flow is driven
by a pressure
to the bulk
Mass flux is
inflow due to
In addition to the quality articles that we set out to publish, various
other important factors have resulted in the high citation rate. First and
foremost, I believe that the editorial board, consisting of top
internationally known scientists in their respective fields of research,
attributed to its success. Second, the SSSA Editorial Office has been very
supportive and has closely worked with the Editorial Board towards
improving the journal’s layout and providing staff assistance in
promoting the journal.
Third, the target audience of VZJ is broader than that for many
other journals, integrating physical, chemical, and biological sciences
into an environmental sciences forum that is interesting to read for
scientists in different disciplines, including engineering, geology, soil
science, and hydrology.
Moreover, in addition to regular articles, VZJ has made it a
priority to publish special sections on a wide variety of topics, in every
issue. The resulting breadth of the journal contents makes it a very
attractive journal for a wide audience.
What historical factors have contributed to the success
Whereas science was traditionally conducted by disciplines in relatively
narrow fields, contemporary science requires interdisciplinary research
that molds related disciplines into an integrated context that is relevant
to the society as a whole. VZJ provides a framework for this new
concept, being cautious to not exclude scientific work that might be
interesting to the broader community.
Have there been specific developments in the fields
served by VZJ that may have contributed?
In addition to the increasing need for integrative science in general, the
scientific community (i.e., the scientist) is increasingly sensitive to a
broader readership that may acknowledge their scientific developments and
innovations towards wider applications in environmental sciences.
What, in your view, is this journal's main significance
or contribution in the field of Geosciences?
The scientific community has an increasing need for effective dissemination
of information about the physical, chemical, and biological processes
operating in the vadose zone, the mostly unsaturated zone between the soil
surface and the permanent groundwater table. VZJ provides a forum
for vadose zone research and assessment.
The vadose zone has long been the focus of research and assessment by
scientists concerned with soil water flow and the fate and transport of
chemicals stemming from agricultural practices or waste disposal
operations. This focus has broadened considerably in recent years. Many
industrial, municipal, and engineering activities are known to have an
impact on the vadose zone, and hence, indirectly, the entire subsurface
environment. As a result, many state and federal agencies, such as EPA,
DOE, DOD, NASA, and NSF, are increasingly addressing vadose zone issues,
including serving as funding agencies for vadose zone investigations.
The vadose zone is now the active domain of scientists and professionals in
a broad range of disciplines. These disciplines include soil physics,
geophysics, hydrogeology, geochemistry, soil chemistry, microbiology,
terrestrial ecology, environmental engineering, agricultural engineering,
and engineering associated with construction, petroleum, and chemical
How do you see your field(s) evolving in the next few
With the increasing interest in the diversity of issues that govern the
physical, chemical, and biological processes in the subsurface, impacting
air and water quality and the living environment in general, I see no
stopping here. I foresee growing interest to explore the science of the
vadose zone in an integrative multidisciplinary manner.
What role do you see for your journal?
To enhance integrative science; and for students and professionals to learn
that advancing science requires a broad view, and willingness to recognize
related sciences. VZJ provides for that context and forum,
allowing publication of research developments in environmental sciences, as
related to the subsurface environment.
Vadose Zone Journal
Jan W. Hopmans, Editor
Soil Science Society of America, publishers, in cooperation with the
Geological Society of America