Review of Policy Research

Cover image for Vol. 31 Issue 2

Edited By: Christopher Gore, Ryerson University, email: chris.gore@politics.ryerson.ca

Impact Factor: 1.113

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2012: 10/47 (Public Administration); 45/157 (Political Science)

Online ISSN: 1541-1338

Editor's Note from Chris Gore


Editor’s Notes

These are very exciting times at the Review of Policy Research (RPR). First, this issue marks a formal, tangible transition in the editorship of the journal. In August 2010, I formally became the new editor. This followed the interim editorial direction provided by Daniel Gutierrez and Paul Rich of the Policy Studies Organization (PSO), and the formal editorship of J.P. Singh, who was editor of RPR from 2006 to May 2009. This transition is also notable as it marks the first time that one of the PSO’s journals is based at a Canadian university, Ryerson University.

Second, in October 2010, RPR learned that it has been accepted into Thomson Reuters Scientific Information, and will be covered in the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) and Current Contents: Social + Behavioral Sciences. Coverage of RPR will begin with the 2008 volume, which means that the journal should be listed in the 2010 Journal Citation Reports: Social Science Edition and will receive its first impact factor.

Former RPR editor, J.P. Singh, has been instrumental in advancing the quality and scope of the journal. During Dr. Singh’s editorship, he was instrumental in guiding RPR toward its position as a leading scholarly outlet for research on the politics and policy of science, technology, and environmental issues (STE). Building a relationship with the science, technology, and environmental politics (STEP) section of the American Political Science Association, RPR became the official journal of the STEP section. Under Dr. Singh’s leadership, the journal moved forward to publish a diversity of research and analysis that expands our understanding of how STE issues shape and are shaped by political and policy systems, authority, knowledge, expertise, institutions, and social and economic forces.

Complementing Dr. Singh’s significant contribution are many other individuals and organizations that were instrumental and will remain instrumental in advancing RPR’s goals of publishing leading research on STE issues. These include the significant expertise and scholarly contributions of the RPR Editorial Board, the PSO, and Wiley-Blackwell. I want to formally thank Dr. Singh, many members of the Editorial Board, the PSO, and Wiley-Blackwell for the guidance and support during this transition period. Equally, while this marks the first issue formally under my editorship, many of the articles and content published in this issue are products of the editorial activities of Dr. Singh, Paul Rich, and Daniel Gutierrez, with published articles stemming from all three recent editorial periods, and the guidance that followed from those periods.

With editorial transitions come opportunities to carefully consider how to build on the strengths of the past and further enhance the role and contribution of the journal in the future. With RPR now based at a Canadian university, and as an editor born, educated, and studying STE issues in Canada, the United States, and sub-Saharan Africa, one of my immediate goals is to encourage and publish more comparative STE research. In Canada, understanding and analyzing how policy debates and choices are influenced by the United States, for example, is common due to the depth of connections between the countries. As former Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, once famously stated about being neighbors with the United States: “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.” But while STE debates in the United States often affect Canada significantly, it is not inevitable that Canadian and U.S. STE policies align. Hence, encouraging comparative international STE research and understanding the convergence and divergence of STE policy within and between local, subnational, regional, and national jurisdictions and authorities is a high editorial priority.

At the same time, the analysis of single issues or single jurisdictions remains critical to developing deep understandings of the interrelationships between social, political, and economic forces influencing STE outcomes. This is particularly true for low- and middle-income countries of the world that are underrepresented in STE research, but which are often advancing dynamic technological innovations. To engender this kind of research, the RPR editorial team will continue to seek out and solicit the best international research on the politics and policy of STE. I encourage any researchers with questions about publishing in RPR to contact me (chris.gore@politics.ryerson.ca) or the new Managing Editor, Adam Thorn (adam.thorn@ryerson.ca).

To help attract leading STE research, over the coming year, new editorial board members will also be added. I am pleased to announce that three new members have joined the board: Ron Diebert, Associate Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Citizen Lab, at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto; Carolyn Johns, Associate Professor, Department of Politics and Public Administration, and Director, PhD in Policy Studies, Ryerson University; and Peter Stoett, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, Concordia University.

The articles in the upcoming issue of RPR illustrate the diversity of scholarship submitted to RPR and speak to the breadth of approaches used to study STE issues.

Edward Miller’s article, “Repealing Federal Oversight of State Health Policy: Lessons from the Boren Amendment” provides an excellent example of how deep empirical analysis advances our understanding of policy and legislative processes. Miller reveals factors driving shifts in policy venues in the United States and the significant role that coalitions play in changing those venues and policy images.

Guri Bang’s article, “Signed but Not Ratified: Limits to U.S. Participation in International Environmental Agreements,” showcases the value of comparative research in the same country. Comparing domestic constraints on U.S. participation in three international environmental agreements, Bang produces significant insights about the various ways that different domestic interests and institutions interact to influence national environmental outcomes.

Alex Coram’s article, “Rationing Consumption of Private Goods that Produce Collective Bads,” falls outside the norm for articles published in RPR. Examining the relationship between wealth and restrictions on consumption that produce negative externalities like air pollution, Coram asks whether a more egalitarian distribution imposes a higher or a lower limit on consumption. Coram suggests that his models have implications for understanding how restrictions on the production of negative externalities change when the allocation of wealth changes, both domestically and potentially in an international system.

In the article, “Confronting the Challenges of Developing Nigeria’s Extractive Industry: Policy and Performance in the Oil and Gas Industry,” Eyene Okpanachi examines an issue that has figured prominently in sub-Saharan African environmental issues for years. Reviewing the effects of Nigeria’s development of the oil industry in the Niger Delta, Okpanachi makes an original contribution in the analysis by evaluating the specific initiatives the national government has implemented in recent years to try to rectify the problems compounded by decades of oil extraction.

One new addition to RPR is a section titled “Review Article.” This section will feature full-length, in-depth, peer-reviewed, scholarly reviews of STE issues, themes, or related theory. The distinguishing feature of a “review article” in RPR will be that it will principally provide a comprehensive overview of the state of knowledge of an issue, while also advancing arguments about ways that knowledge can be enhanced in future. Michele Betsill and Matthew Hoffman’s article, “The Contours of ‘Cap and Trade’: The Evolution of Emissions Trading Systems for Greenhouse Gases,” is an excellent example of the kind of review article we hope to publish in future. Engaging deeply in the history and evolution of cap-and-trade globally, they analyze the issue using a “policy domain” approach, and argue that it has utility in future research on policy convergence. Thus, their comprehensive description of cap and trade is complemented by the original application of a policy domain approach.

In issues to follow, the new “Review Article” section will be followed by another new section titled “Perspectives and Viewpoints.” This section will feature very short, solicited contributions, which aim to generate debate on STE issues while also advocating policy and research directions.

RPR will continue to publish book reviews each issue. Under the strong leadership of RPR book review editors, Mark Zachary Taylor (science and technology books) and Stacy VanDeveer (environment books), this issue continues the legacy of past issues by analyzing new STE books. Equally, it is timely that in this issue, one of the reviews examines three books on Canadian environmental policy collectively. This is a welcome, ambitious, and rare effort.

The conclusion to this first “Editor’s Note,” is bittersweet. Gary Bryner died on March 10, 2010. Gary was a founding member of the Science Technology and Environmental Politics section and on the editorial board of RPR. I first met Gary in 2008. Attending a short course on “teaching public policy” at the annual American Political Science Association conference, I listened intently to Gary’s presentation on “capstone courses in public policy programs.” While I knew Gary’s research in the areas of environmental law and policy, what stood out from his presentation was the extent to which he valued the connection between teaching, research, and the community, and the efforts he made to bring the challenge and complexity of policy analysis to his students. We spoke briefly after the panel. Having never met me before, Gary showed sincere interest in discussing my own challenges of bringing experiential learning to a senior policy class, like he had done. I now know that my brief encounter was illustrative of Gary’s personal demeanor and career. In the past and today, RPR aims to publish high-quality, diverse, critical scholarship on the politics and policy of STE issues. Hence, it is fitting to end this issue of RPR with Kathryn Hochstetler honoring Gary—a consummate scholar and faithful contributor to the goal of advancing research and knowledge on STE issues globally.

-- Christopher Gore Editor

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