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With this issue, the Journal of Applied Ecology is 40 years old. Now truly in its prime, the Journal has a more international circulation, greater coverage, more stringent selection and faster publication than any of its major competitors. On science quality and impact, the Journal of Applied Ecology sits on the fringe of the top 10% of all ecology journals and, with other leading applied titles, illustrates that applied papers not only affect policy and management, but also provide real science leadership.

The Journal's position at the interface of quality applied research and management is its most distinct feature. Over 50% of our papers lead to some form of uptake within 2–3 years of publication (Ormerod et al. 2001) and, within the policy and practitioner community, the Journal is prominent among periodicals that have a real bearing on development. Throughout the British Ecological Society, however, there is recognition that ecologists of all types can further bolster their contacts with those who use the products of ecological research. To this end, the Journal of Applied Ecology this year is taking the following steps to further encourage communication both among applied ecological researchers and with the user sector.

Call for reviews: As in 2002, the Journal of Applied Ecology is calling for reviews and mini-reviews that synthesize existing knowledge on applied subjects, identify developing frontiers, or illustrate areas in which ecological knowledge could be used better in problem solving. Continuing a practice established last year, the Journal will be commissioning at least three such reviews in 2003, including at least one commission that will be awarded in open competition. A small financial incentive is available. Ideas and bids from any potential authors should be received by any one of the editors before April 2003.

Strapline: The Journal's strapline has changed on this issue to further emphasize the applied value of its papers: ‘Ecology with management relevance’.

Summary format: To improve accessibility to our users and to encourage authors to identify seminal aspects of their papers, the final summary point in all our items from this issue onwards will be entitled explicitly as ‘Synthesis and applications’.

Methodological insights: To encourage further the communication and development of methods in applied ecology, we are launching a new section of the Journal to replace ‘Innovations’. Papers for ‘Methodological Insights’ will either illustrate new developments in applied ecology, or provide a forum for the discussion, review, revision and application of established methods. The scope embraces all methodological stages from the design of investigations and the collection of data to analysis, synthesis and application. We are particularly delighted to launch this new section with two key papers from the UK Farm Scale Evaluations of genetically modified crops, whose methods and design will attract much debate and consideration by others involved in similar large-scale issues.

Electronic submission and handling: Finally and most significantly, the Journal of Applied Ecology has now launched a fully electronic system for all authors and papers at:

Full details are in this issue, and on the Journal's website.

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