The Success of Agronomy for Sustainable Development

Journal Interview, November 2010

Agronomy for Sustainable Development In a recent analysis of Essential Science IndicatorsSM data from Thomson Reuters, the journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development achieved the highest percent increase in total citations in the field of Agricultural Sciences.

The journal's current record in this field includes 260 papers cited a total of 884 times between January 1, 2000 and June 30, 2010. In June of this year, Agronomy for Sustainable Development earned an impact factor of 1.650 in Journal Citation Reports®.

Agronomy for Sustainable Development is published by EDP Sciences on behalf of l'Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA). From January 2011, the journal will be published by Springer.

 
ScienceWatch.com talks with Editor-in-Chief Dr. Éric Lichtfouse and Editorial Assistant Marjolaine Hamelin about the journal's history, aims, and citation record

SW: Did you expect Agronomy for Sustainable Development to become highly cited, or is this surprising to you?

This is not really a surprise, since we have been placing all our efforts in the renovation of the journal in the last years, in order to improve its quality and its adequacy to current agricultural issues. In particular, we increased rejection from about 40% to 80% in 2005, we set more ecological topics, and we actively sought authors of review articles. We are very pleased to see that these efforts in the selection, evaluation, and correction of the articles have borne fruit.

How would you account for the high citation rate of Agronomy for Sustainable Development?

The journal publishes original research articles that demonstrate a clear scientific breakthrough versus current knowledge. The novelty of the results or the approach is therefore an important selection criterion for the Editorial Board. The increasing number of published reviews also accounts for the increase in the citation rate. The points addressed in the previous answer also apply.

Would you give us a brief history of the journal?

"Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Agronomy for Sustainable Development is one of the seven journals of the French Institute of Agronomical Research (INRA). The journal is managed by a collaboration of two INRA departments: the Department of Environment and Agronomy and the Department of Sciences for Action and Development. Agronomy for Sustainable Development was originally entitled Agronomie, and was founded in 1981. At that time, less than 10% of articles were in English.

What historical factors have contributed to the success of Agronomy for Sustainable Development?

To address current agronomical issues and to promote worldwide discussions and cooperation, we implemented sharp changes at the journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development from 2003 to 2006. We changed topics from classical, production-oriented agronomy to sustainable and ecological agriculture. Major journal changes implemented during the journal renovation included:

  • the setting up of a pre-selection committee at the submission stage
  • an increase in the number of Field Editors from 14 to 32
  • novel topics focusing on sustainable agriculture
  • novel format instructions for more concise articles
  • a new title (formerly Agronomie)
  • a switch from hardcopy to fully electronic managing
  • 100% of articles in English and a new journal cover
  • 7 review reports produced per manuscript: 3 reports from Associate Editors at the pre-selection step, 1 report from the Field Editor, 2 reports from peer-reviewers, and 1 report from the Editor-in-Chief; active commissioning of review articles by the Editor-in-Chief.

Have there been specific developments in the fields served by Agronomy for Sustainable Development that may have contributed?

Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Major issues include starving people in poor nations, obesity in rich nations, increasing food prices, ongoing climate changes, increasing fuel and transportation costs, flaws of the global market, worldwide pesticide pollution, pest adaptation and resistance, loss of soil fertility and organic carbon, soil erosion, decreasing biodiversity, desertification, and so on.

"Almost 100% of articles published in Agronomy for Sustainable Development describe alternative farming techniques that attempt to counteract climate change, pesticide pollution, and food crisis/starvation."

Despite unprecedented advances in sciences allowing us to visit planets and disclose subatomic particles, serious terrestrial issues about food show clearly that conventional agriculture is no longer suited to feeding humans and preserving ecosystems. Sustainable agriculture is an alternative for solving fundamental and applied issues related to food production in an ecological way.

While conventional agriculture is driven almost solely by productivity and profit, sustainable agriculture integrates biological, chemical, physical, ecological, economic and social sciences in a comprehensive way to develop new farming practices that are safe and do not degrade our environment. Considered for a long time as a soft, side science, agronomy is rising fast as a central science because current issues are about food, and humans eat food.

What, in your view, is this journal's main significance or contribution in the field of Agricultural Sciences?

Almost 100% of articles published in Agronomy for Sustainable Development describe alternative farming techniques that attempt to counteract climate change, pesticide pollution, and food crisis/starvation. An important part of ASD authors originate from developing countries. The journal also publishes reviews that offer a global look at hot topics such as climate change, organic farming, etc.

How do you see your field(s) evolving in the next few years?

Sustainable agriculture will become a major science because it tackles all the actual issues society is facing, and it integrates many disciplines. For instance, we were probably the first agronomical journal to integrate social and economic sciences with classical agrosciences.

What role do you see for your journal?

Our journal focuses on the interactions between cropping systems and other activities in the context of sustainable development. It offers a cross-disciplinary look from the biological and social point of view.SW:

Agronomy for Sustainable Development
Dr. Éric Lichtfouse, Editor-in-Chief
Ing. Marjolaine Hamelin, Editorial Assistant
Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA)


AGRONOMY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT'S MOST CURRENT MOST-CITED PAPER IN ESSENTIAL SCIENCE INDICATORS:

Devos Y, et al., "Coexistence of genetically modified (GM) and non-GM crops in the European Union. A review," Agron. Sustain. Dev. 29(1): 11-30, Jan-Mar 2009 with 12 cites. Source: Essential Science Indicators from Thomson Reuters.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

  • This journal was a Rising Star in Agricultural Sciences in September 2010.

KEYWORDS: AGRONOMY, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, AGRICULTURE, ECOLOGY, JOURNAL RENOVATION, SELECTION, EDITORS, TOPICS, FORMAT, ELECTRONIC MANAGEMENT, REVIEW PROCESS, STARVATION, OBESITY, FOOD PRICES, CLIMATE CHANGE, GLOBAL MARKET, PESTICIDE POLLUTION, SOIL FERTILITY, ORGANIC CARBON, SOIL EROSION, BIODIVERSITY, DESERTIFICATION, CONVENTIONAL AGRICULTURE, FOOD PRODUCTION, ALTERNATIVE FARMING TECHNIQUES, DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, SOCIETY, ECONOMICS.

 
 

   |   BACK TO TOP