‘To manage a system effectively, you might focus on the interactions of the parts rather than their behavior taken separately’ (Russell Ackoff, born 1919)
Interaction is the key term that drives the organisation and service that New Phytologist offers to authors and indeed the plant science community as a whole. It is also a key term that describes the changing nature of the research we publish. In the current issue, about 40% of the papers are concerned with the interactions of different factors in determining plant responses. Ten years ago, only about 18% of the papers were directly concerned with interactions. This reflects the increasingly complex view and knowledge of the fundamental processes underpinning plant behaviour. No longer is it sufficiently accurate to consider the response of a plant to a single variable; in the field, such a response can be swamped by unexpected responses to other variables. Papers in the first New Phytologist volume of 2006 tackle the unexpected by explicitly considering interactions. Old favourites for reconsideration are leaf respiration (Wright et al., in press), CO2 fertilisation (Edwards et al., this issue, pp. 157–167), salinity (Carter et al., this issue, pp. 123–133) and responses to irradiance (Hovenden & Vander Schoor, in press). In our expanding Evolution section, a paper by Biere & Honders (in press), which will appear in a forthcoming feature on pollinator mutualisms, describes the complex interactions among different kingdoms of plants, animals and fungi, in order to understand the complexities of pollination.
Recognition of the trend towards complexity and interaction has led us to expand our editorial team and we are delighted to welcome on board Henk Schat and Andrea Polle. Henk's research exemplifies the interactive approach to studying heavy metals, applying both genetic and physiological methods to investigate the mechanisms of heavy metal hyperaccumulation in plants (Assunção et al., 2003a; Zha et al., 2004) and tolerance of different species to heavy metals (Assunção et al., 2003b). Andrea brings expertise in applying molecular and physiological techniques to identify the responses of model plant species to global change; in particular, the interaction of Arabidopsis and Populus with many components, from fungi through heavy metals to nitrogen (Kruse et al., 2003). These appointments reflect our commitment to encourage both new and established areas of the journal, continuing our support for heavy metal and plant research (e.g. New Phytologist Vol. 159, No. 2, August 2003) and more recently for functional genomics of poplar (e.g. New Phytologist Vol. 167, No. 1, July 2005).
Interactions between Editors, the Central Office, authors and reviewers are taken very seriously by the journal. The approach appears to work well, given the many positive communications we receive from authors. This reflects the high standards that we set our selves and that have been developed by Jonathan Ingram and his Central Office team. Jonathan, our Editorial and Development Manager, has now made a career change and has left New Phytologist. He was, in considerable part, instrumental in developing and implementing the new look and efficiency of the journal over the past seven years. We are grateful for his insight and for implementing many significant developments such as the move to Manuscript Central, our online submission process, and for guiding New Phytologist to an attractive and well-cited journal. A measure of his success is the rise in the ISI impact factor of New Phytologist from 1.719 in 1998 to 3.355 in 2004. We wish him well in his new career.
As one door closes, another opens, and we are delighted to welcome Holly Slater, formerly the Deputy Editorial and Development Manager, as the new Managing Editor of the journal. Holly's scientific grounding is in plant pathology, with specific expertise in the area of molecular genetics of bacteria that cause disease in plants, which she researched both during her PhD and then as a postdoc in the Sainsbury Laboratory at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK, and subsequently in the Biochemistry Department of the University of Cambridge. Holly has been with New Phytologist for almost three years and this experience has enabled her to move seamlessly into heading the Central Office from April 2005 and getting to grips with a continuous supply of editorial issues that accompany journal life in the 21st century. At a time when both the quantity and quality of research are continuing to increase, New Phytologist has worked hard to maintain our service to the community despite a significant rise in submissions. In particular, this is reflected by our rapid handling times, which remain at 30 days, on average, from manuscript submission to first decision. This was complemented by a faster production schedule for 2005, where on average authors could expect their articles to be published OnlineEarly within 30 days from receipt of the accepted manuscript by the publisher. Further to this, to keep the print publication times in step with the flow of manuscripts, we have increased the journal size by 12% for 2006 and combined this with a move away from monthly publication to 16 issues spaced regularly throughout the year. With a larger journal and more frequent publication of issues, authors can be assured that their work will be rapidly disseminated.
Other changes this year include explorations into the changing nature of the publishing market and how best to communicate scientific research in an age where the internet has provided new opportunities for an old tradition. In response to this, New Phytologist has joined the Blackwell Publishing Online Open trial that enables authors to pay for their articles to be available free to all online. We welcome feedback on this initiative. This is in addition to the existing free content, of Tansley reviews and regular features, funded by the New Phytologist Trust.
The Trust's interactions extend beyond publishing the journal to include the International series of New Phytologist Symposia. This month, we will be holding two symposia in London, UK; the first will focus on new directions in plant ecological development (23–24 January, Royal Society) and the second on networks in plant biology (26–27 January, Linnean Society). We are also supporting a third meeting this year on the impact of genomics on fungal biology (18–20 September, Nancy, France) and would very much like to see readers and authors of New Phytologist at one or more of these events – complete details can be found on our web site (http://www.newphytologist.org). The success of the journal and the additional activities of the Trust comes down to the interaction of authors, reviewers, Advisors and Editors and we would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for choosing New Phytologist and to invite your continued support.