June 2016 // Volume 54 // Number 3 // Editorial // v54-3ed1
A Summer Reading Recommendation and June JOE Highlights
In the "Summer Reading" section of this Editor's Page, I recommend a great book for JOE authors. In "June JOE," I preview some of the issue's excellent content: articles that present ways to maximize the value of research endeavors; articles that discuss strategies for how Extension professionals can help one another grow professionally, increase productivity, and accept change; and articles that highlight Extension's relationship to some crucial societal issues.
It's summer! Whether you're packing your beach bag, gathering your camping gear, or just anticipating a lazy afternoon in the hammock, you'll need a good read. And I can recommend one. It's a beautiful coming-of-age story about a scholarly article. The title? Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition (APA manual, for short). Trust me—it's a real page-turner! The APA manual provides broad guidance on composing effective article titles and abstracts, structuring manuscripts, writing clearly and concisely, discussing data, and more. Plus, it offers details that will help you correctly apply grammar and mechanics rules, display research results, and credit sources.
What's great about style manuals is that they eliminate guesswork. For example, do you know whether to capitalize the names of theories and models? Read the book. Do you know the three types of notes that are permissible in a table? Read the book. Do you know how to indicate the location of material quoted from a source that doesn't have page numbers? Read the book. If you pick up no other book this summer, read (or at least skim) this one!
Speaking of delightful summer reading, this issue is crammed with must-read articles. Several focus on boosting the value of research efforts by applying sophisticated, less commonly used, or particularly well-timed techniques. The Feature "Better Crunching: Recommendations for Multivariate Data Analysis Approaches for Program Impact Evaluations" compares and contrasts insights produced by bivariate and multivariate approaches to data analysis. The author makes the excellent point that beyond providing a fuller understanding of program impacts, the use of powerful data analysis in program evaluation studies increases the likelihood of publishing the results in high-quality, peer-reviewed journals. Other articles that might spark investigative creativity are the Feature "Delphi Survey of Needs for On-Farm Research: Forecasting Changes in a Farm Organization," the Ideas at Work entry "Cooking Healthy, Eating Smart: A Strategically Timed Formative Evaluation of a Community-Based Nutrition and Food Safety Program for Rural Older Adults," and the Tools of the Trade article "Maximizing Use of Extension Beef Cattle Benchmarks Data Derived from Cow Herd Appraisal Performance Software."
Other articles consider how Extension can help Extension. The Feature "Mentoring Adult Learners: Implications for Cooperative Extension as a Learning Organization" advocates for specific lines of inquiry that need addressing if Extension is to use mentoring effectively and efficiently in orienting newcomers and developing leaders. The authors of the Ideas at Work article "Creating Teams Increases Extension Educator Productivity" explain how cooperation among members of a transdisciplinary team has led to increased rates of peer-reviewed publications, successful grant applications, and an invigorating esprit de corps, not to mention generation of materials needed by a specific client group. In the Tools of the Trade section, you'll find "The Extension Storyteller: Using Stories to Enhance Meaning and Catalyze Change." Here, the author provides research- and experience-based guidance for building on Extension's existing storytelling tradition to facilitate change within the organization and among those it serves.
Finally, some particularly thought-provoking articles highlight Extension’s relationship to crucial societal matters, such as inclusivity, health equity, and environmentalism. This issue’s Commentary, "Welcoming Immigrants: An Opportunity to Strengthen Rural Communities," explores Extension’s role in ensuring that immigrants are successfully integrated into "new destination" rural communities, thereby strengthening the viability and vitality of those communities. "Rural Health Inequities and the Role of Cooperative Extension," a Feature, places Extension programming on an equity action spectrum and calls for Extension to engage in broadly arrayed efforts customized for effectiveness with disadvantaged groups. Two Research in Brief articles—"Fecal Coliform Concentrations in the Upper Cohansey River Watershed Predicted by Air Temperature, Discharge, and Land Use" and "Drawing On College Student Attitudes and Behaviors to Instigate Energy Efficiency Improvements in Rental Housing"—suggest ways in which Extension can address the environmental issues of water quality and energy use.