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One of the tasks associated with being the Editor in Chief of IFT Scientific Journals is writing an “end of year” report. Amanda Ferguson does most of the hard work in assembling all the facts and figures from the previous year and my input is more along the lines of commenting on the data (a position I am acquainted with as a professor who oversees graduate students). I can say with confidence that 2012 was a very good year. Here are some highlights.

  • The impact factor for Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety increased to 5.053, making it #1 of 124 journals in its category. Truly an amazing accomplishment that is greatly due to the steady guiding hand of Manfred Kroger as Scientific Editor. The impact factor for the Journal of Food Science also increased. We are now at 1.775 and 46th of 124 journals. The improvement is good, but there remains the goal to publish articles that push us to and beyond the 2.0 mark. This will be accomplished by various efforts designed to attract manuscripts that are at the cutting edge of Food Science.
  • We have 1,785 IFT members (combined professional and student members) with individual subscriptions to the Journal of Food Science. However, there were 723,629 full text downloads in 2012. Even if the downloads were placed in files and not fully read, they at least reflect a level of interest in individual articles that was not easily determined in the past. This to me is very revealing regarding our audience. First and foremost are the authors; they need to see publishing in the Journal of Food Science as a way to effectively communicate their research findings. This involves a fair assessment of their work and rapid movement through the publishing pipeline. Second is providing access for potential readers. This is mainly through routes other than individual subscriptions. I am probably typical of many food scientists my age (> 45) in that I proudly display my printed copies on the shelf….. starting in 1974 but ending in the 2000's. Shifting to a focus on electronic publishing offers many new options, such as easy access to supporting data or videos of interviews with the authors. These and other presentation options offer new ways to communicate research that were either restricted or not possible with printed text. We are exploring a variety of new formats to enhance our published articles.
  • The Journal of Food Science Education continues to carve out this new area in Food Science publications. In 2012 there were 22,805 downloaded articles. There are about 50 approved Food Science programs in the United States. If we add another 50 for international programs or related area, that is 22,805/100 = 228 “views”/program on ways to improve teaching. Scientific Editor Grady Chism, his associate editors and editorial board, should be please with the service this journal is providing for Food Science education.

In closing, I would like to first look to the past then towards the future. Food Research, the precursor to the Journal of Food Science, Volume 1, No. 1, was published in January of 1936. The title of the first article (pages 3–7) was “Vitamin C content of vegetables. I. Spinach.” It reported results from the authors D.K. Tressler, G.L. Mack and C.G. King. They were listed as being from the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, NY, and the Dept. of Chemistry, Univ. of Pittsburgh, PA. Their first sentence was “Fresh spinach has long been known to contain relatively large amounts of vitamin C; however, the amounts reported by the several workers differ greatly.” After comparing ascorbic acid content of 12 varieties of spinach they concluded that 1) growing location was very important (one location was 50% higher than the other), 2) vitamin C was mainly in the leaves and “nearly devoid” in the stems and 3) spinach stored at 1 to 3°C had a slow rate of ascorbic acid loss while that stored at room temperature lost “practically all of it [ascorbic acid] in seven days.” This article shows some elements of Food Science that are true 77 years later. First, Food Science is often multidisciplinary, and the combination of scientists from an Experiment Station and a Chemistry department assured proper experimental design and analytical techniques. Second, Food Science generally starts where production agriculture stops. Note establishing the effect of storage temperature. However, one prominent difference was the meager 10 references needed to cover the subject. Can you think of any subject today where only 10 references would be considered a good representation of previous literature?

The future of Food Science offers opportunities in many directions. The first 1936 article covered a nutrition & health-related property of food (vitamin C content), and this “content” remains a key focus of our journals. At the same time, those early investigators could only dream of developments like nanotechnology and the power of all the “omic” applications in genetics, proteins and metabolism, to name a few. We are constantly adjusting our journals to fit the evolving nature of science. For example, the section on Nanoscale Food Science, Engineering, and Technology was added to highlight this new approach. We will constantly evaluate and adjust our content focus to attract and publish cutting-edge research in Food Science. Moreover, it is becoming clear that each generation seeks information by different approaches. This means that delivery format becomes as critical as content. We are currently, and will continue to determine the proper mixture of formats that makes our published research available, and understandable, to the widest audience. Our success will be determined by impact factor, number of downloads, coverage in general scientific and popular press, and other measures that reflect how information obtained from our journals is advancing Food Science and benefiting society.

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Sincerely,

E. Allen Foegeding, Ph.D.

Editor in Chief,

IFT Scientific Journals