According to a recent analysis of
Essential Science IndicatorsSMdata
Reuters, the journal Forest Pathology is
having a growingimpactin the field of Environment
& Ecology. The journal's current record in this
field includes 338 papers cited a total of 1,330 times
between January 1, 1999 and June 30, 2009.
In this interview, ScienceWatch.com talks
with Dr. Stephen Woodward, Forest Pathology's
Editor-in-Chief, about the journal's history and
When and under what circumstances was Forest
Forest Pathology was born in 1971, as the European Journal of
Forest Pathology, a year after a small group of prominent European
forest pathologists developed the idea for the journal during a meeting in
Germany. The first editor-in-chief was Professor Peter Schütt of the
University of Munich. The editorial board included E. Donaubauer (Vienna),
J. Gremmen (Wageningen), Th. Keller (Zürich), L. Lanier (Nancy), and
J.S. Murray (Aberdeen). It was perceived that an international journal was
required to provide a suitable outlet for tree pathology research, as an
alternative to the work being diluted amongst other forestry, botany, and
"We occupy a niche position in the
plant science field, and we also overlap into
animal science...ecology, and environmental
The name was simplified to Forest Pathology in 2000, under the
second editor-in-chief, Prof. Ottmar Holdenrieder (Zürich), to give
the journal a more international scope, reflecting the number of papers
received from outside Europe.
Did you expect Forest Pathology to become
highly cited, or is this surprising to you?
It is surprising that citations are increasing, although it is also very
gratifying. The journal could be regarded as "niche," but the papers we
publish are clearly being seen by a wide range of plant pathologists,
microbiologists, and environmentalists now.
How would you account for the increased citation rate of
Several factors probably contribute to the increase in citations. A major
factor is an increasing perception of the importance of environmental
issues, something on which the journal is highly focused. For example, we
are witnessing an unprecedented rise in the numbers of alien invasive pests
and pathogens becoming established in non-native regions of the world,
generating a lot of information and a great deal of interest from a wide
range of scientists and policymakers, as well as the general public. These
alien species present major threats to forest ecosystems and warrant a high
level of attention from the political authorities.
Other factors include the number of papers using state-of-the-art methods
in molecular biology and chemistry, which are very attractive to citation
by a much wider range of users than forest pathologists per se,
and the availability of the journal in online packages bought by academic
libraries throughout the world.
Of course, we also have an excellent group on the editorial board for the
journal, with a wide range of high-level expertise within forest pathology;
these people are all crucial to our success, as are the reviewers we rely
upon for criticisms of submitted manuscripts.
Was there a change in policy or editorial direction that
might account for this?
Our policy is to publish papers of the highest possible quality, whilst
enabling information to be available from scientists in countries that have
hitherto had little exposure in the "western" scientific press. We employ a
rigorous system for scrutinizing submitted manuscripts, but offer all the
help we can (within our personal time constraints) in sorting out language
problems for scientists who do not speak English as their first language.
Moreover, we try to complete the editorial procedures as rapidly as
possible: our turnover rate for manuscripts has improved considerably in
the last year, and we aim to make further improvements to reduce the time
from submission to first decision. These matters represent a gradual
evolution of the editorial process, rather than strict editorial policy.
They do, however, appear to be successful.
Have there been specific developments in the fields
served by Forest Pathology that may have
"...alien species present major
threats to forest ecosystems and warrant a
high level of attention from the political
As described above, the increasing use of state-of-the-art techniques in
forest pathology and the apparent rising importance of alien invasive
pathogens are such developments.
What, in your view, is this journal’s main
significance or contribution in the field of Plant & Animal
We occupy a niche position in the plant science field, and we also overlap
into animal science (for example, the importance of bark beetles as vectors
of pathogenic microorganisms), ecology, and environmental science. The main
significance is our focus on biotic and abiotic factors impacting on the
health of trees in all their various locations, at landscape, forest,
urban, horticultural production, and even garden scales.
How do you see your field(s) evolving in the next few
The rise in importance of alien invasive pathogens will, unfortunately,
continue. We may be witnessing only the tip of the iceberg for these
problems, and the journal will be a front-runner in presenting data on
these organisms. At the same time, we will continue to report important
developments in disease biology and management for all tree pathogen
What role do you see for your journal?
We will be amongst the first, if not the first, to report critical
information on tree pathogens, their ecologies, impacts, and
Forest Pathology Dr. Stephen Woodward,
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., publishers