June 2008 // Volume 46 // Number 3

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Take Pains with Titles (and Abstracts)

"Take Pains with Titles (and Abstracts)" urges JOE authors to do just that. "June JOE" talks about articles on eXtension and the Web and other technology-mediated ways of reaching our audiences. It also points to other articles that illustrate the range and richness of Extension.

Take Pains with Titles (and Abstracts)

The Journal of Extension (JOE) is a refereed journal, not a magazine like Newsweek or a newspaper like USA Today, but that shouldn't stop you from making the titles of your articles (and your headings and subheadings) as engaging and concise as possible while still respecting and reflecting your scholarly content.

As I've said before, JOE has a heterogeneous readership. Academics read it, but so do more "applied" Extension and outreach professionals and people just looking for useful information. The goal is to continue to speak to the former (including primary committees) while not losing the latter. So take a few pains with your titles.

Take even more pain with your abstracts. They appear at the top of your articles, on the Contents page, and in each issue announcement. They are what will draw readers to your articles--or not. Make sure they reflect the contents of your articles in as interesting and engaging a way as possible.

One of the best ways to do this is to use active voice. I've written about this before. (See "Accentuate the Active" in my October 2004 Editor's Page.) Not only does active voice make your prose more effective and engaging, it's actually recommended by the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (JOE's style manual). So try and break the habit of a scholarly lifetime, at least in your abstracts if not in your articles.

June JOE

I'm excited about this issue. Information technology is at the forefront, especially the Web and eXtension, but we have some geospatial articles, too, and articles on satellite broadcasting and interactive video. When I realized that so many articles on eXtension had made it through our double-blind review process, I decided to publish as many of them as I could in one issue and add related articles for a really rich mix (even if it meant a few articles "jumped the queue"). Five Features, all seven Research in Brief articles, and all eight Tools of the Trade discuss eXtension, the Web, or other technology-mediated ways of improving our professional lives and reaching our audiences.

I could single out just about any of them, which would make that phrase meaningless, so I will just urge you to read them. I am particularly happy with the way the Research in Brief section works, going from "in house" considerations, like a study of adoption of eXtension, Extension's role in bridging the broadband digital divide, and dealing with Web-based surveys, to ways we use the Web and other forms of technology to reach out to our audiences. Pretty cool.

But information technology is not all that's "cool" about Extension, as the other articles in the June issue attest. There's a Commentary about how one institution is using a transformational education model to become a more engaged university. We've got an article on disaster preparedness and personal and professional challenges to Extension staff that really hits home given the weather-related disasters we've been experiencing here in the Midwest and one on ascertaining the impact of newspaper columns. And six Ideas at Work articles that further illustrate the range and richness of our profession.

June's a pretty good month for JOE.

Laura Hoelscher, Editor