Paul Novelly, Editor-in-Chief of The Rangeland Journal Email: email@example.com
For those of you who like to ‘read ahead’ in the On-Line Early section of CSIRO Publishing’s The Rangeland Journal web site, you may have noticed the paper by Turner, Friedel and Neumann on phyllode fall in mulga (Acacia aneura). At the time the data were collected, John Turner was a microclimatologist with CSIRO Land Resource and Regional Survey Division’s Climatology Unit in Alice Springs.
I found this to be an interesting paper. However, what makes it more interesting in my opinion is that the data were collected in the late 1950s, and never published until now. Yet, since substantial areas of mulga communities are now being used for C sequestration, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland, such data are most useful and relevant to today’s questions regarding mulga management and ecology per se, and to rangeland management in general.
And it got me wondering. How many rangelanders have a filing cabinet, or an external hard drive they have not accessed for years, with similar data tucked away? How much time, effort and resources were expended on data collection and analysis which, often for quite legitimate reasons, never made it into a journal? And don’t be surprised that anyone would still be interested in such data. Many people are, I can assure you. Such data are often a substantial component of evidence available on a given topic of range management, about which little is available in the literature.
And it’s not only your data that could be useful. Do you have a friend or colleague who may have mentioned something in the past – some piece of research that they never got around to publishing? Well, if that’s the case, give them some encouragement to publish – perhaps even suggest you will assist in getting the work into the Journal.
And, for me, there are also pragmatic reasons to see these data made available. The Rangeland Journal is always seeking more submissions. At the same time the competition for submissions is increasing, as more journals and other on-line platforms arise. Concurrently, there appears to be a decline in rangeland research, with fewer people involved, particularly in Australia. Consequently, The Rangeland Journal has seen a steady but inexorable decline in submissions over the years. And the ARS Publications Committee are looking for ways to reverse that trend.
So, the next time it’s too hot and humid, or too cold and wet to do field work, or the next time you are locked down because of Covid 19, think about what you or a colleague may have in the pipeline, and whether those data, no matter how old, that you have not thought about for years, might make a good paper for the Journal. Chances are that they would.
Trends in rangeland management come and go, but good, well-collected and analysed data are immortal. Don’t leave those data languishing in the filing cabinet or on the hard drive. Please, bring them out into the light of day (using The Rangeland Journal, of course). You owe it to the data.