June 2001 // Volume 39 // Number 3

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Editor's Page

What's the difference between one category of JOE article and another? Who cares? JOE reviewers do, and JOE authors should, too.

As I promised (threatened?) in the last "Editor's Page" http://www.joe.org/joe/2001april/ed1.html, I'm going to say some more about the editorial reviews I do before I accept a JOE submission as ready to be sent to reviewers. And then, of course, I'm going to rave about the June JOE.

What's the Difference?

The "difference" in question here is the difference between one JOE article category and another. As I said 2 months ago, some authors "haven't paid sufficient attention to the differences among the article categories, so their articles don't fit in any of them."

I'm always leery when an author sends me a submission and tells me that, because of its length, the article is a Feature rather than a Research in Brief. The difference is not just that the former is 3,000 words long and the latter 2,000.

The key difference is that a Feature article should emphasize the implications of "the data" for Extension; hence, the extra 1,000 words. With a Research in Brief, the focus is more on the data, itself, and the methods used to gather it. Features tend to be broader in scope and implication, while Research in Brief articles tend to be more specific and localized.

To get a handle on the difference between a Tools of the Trade and an Ideas at Work article, think about the difference between "useful," on the one hand, and "innovative," on the other. Think about the difference between "tools" and "ideas," too.

And the difference between a Commentary and the other types of JOE articles? It's passion, edge, immediacy, and conviction.

The differences are kind of subtle and somewhat abstract, but our JOE reviewers know the differences and are becoming increasingly intent on maintaining them. Ergo, prospective JOE authors should take note.

What's in This Month's Issue?

We have many good articles and a number of common themes, too.

There's Extension's role in health promotion. It's on the minds of the authors of four articles in this issue (five, when you count dealing with substance use among adolescents).

And then there are the new media. We have:

  • A Feature comparing traditional delivery methods with satellite delivery,
  • A Research in Brief demonstrating that users' ambivalence may be more a matter of unfamiliarity than of technological barriers,
  • An Ideas at Work describing the success of a simple but effective electronic newsletter, and
  • A Tools of the Trade helping us "think in multimedia."

Interested in learning styles? All of us in Extension should be, and at least three articles explicitly address this important topic.

Two articles, one of our two excellent Commentary articles and a Feature, discuss organizational change and organizational culture.

The last theme I'm going to cover is surprise. In last October's "Editor's Page" http://www.joe.org/joe/2000october/ed1.html, I highlighted two articles that illustrate the "surprise of science," and this month we have an article that tells us about an unanticipated benefit of getting some farmers together to talk about a species of sustainable agriculture.

Grazing councils? Leadership development? Who'd have thought? The lesson here? Avoid the "tunnel vision" that blinds us to surprise. And look beyond our own disciplines and program areas.

Laura Hoelscher, Editor