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Re: Christmas Rose? & Research Articles-Submission Standards

Dear Joe,
RE:>>I'm not sure just what the problem is...
I may make a more detailed response (would that be possible?) to you in a private message.  I will do this because I believe doing so is conducive toward maintaining a high standard for submitted, and ultimately published, scientific articles while facilitating a continual flow of Hosta-related articles to the Journal editor.  There must be separate standards applied to scientific articles, and were people to get the opinion that such scrutiny applied to general interest articles, the flow of such articles to the editor might be diminished, with even some thinking their article might be unworthy of submission.  Perhaps the worst part of an editor's job becomes reality when but a few articles are being submitted. What was already difficult then becomes mission impossible.

I am certain that the goals of the AHS Journal have been clearly defined.  I am certain that all interested parties support continuing toward the standard of producing the best quality of publication that can be done, on time, and within budget.  Unfortunately, among the 4,000 plus AHS members, you would likely have great divergence on how each would define the term "best".  From the format, to the content, this definition would be all over the board. Certainly all would concur.  One personal note--few contest the exceptional professional quality of this publication as it is at present.  For any to "flog the editor", or attempt to publicly dissuade the readership of this forum from believing this publication is anything but exemplary; such communications may fall on deaf ears.  One only need examine the work to ascertain its high standards for editing and publication.  It is a testimony to the membership, the Board, the editors and staff, and I believe if Hostas could speak, they would applaude each time an issue rolls off the presses.  It is arguably one of the best publications of it's type--in the world.

Unfortunately, I am under informed on the main issue at hand of how one accomplishes having an article published.  I have only the printed information which is published in each Journal regarding submission procedures.  If there is a written process through which submitted documents (i.e. "requests for publication" (RFP's), are reviewed, I would like to become aware of it.  My purpose is two-fold; 1) To better understand it for purposes of this communication, and 2) to better understand it for my own interests which may include such submissions.

This is in regards to pre-publication review by either the AHS Journal editorial staff, the Scientific Committee of the AHS, or any others who may be charged with the responsibility of reviewing RFP's.  I must first ask for a chance to accumulate any written procedures.  Could someone who has access to this information instruct me on how I might obtain such materials?  Are they publicly accessible for those who might request a copy?

Secondly, I believe this matter is of importance primarily to those with an advanced botanical or scientific interest and that all who submit any RFP will have a vested, and perhaps emotional interest, in the publication of that article.   Some may be writing these articles as a work related endeavor.  Ben, as we know, has a position of responsibility to an educational institution.  If his position is like so many in the U.S., often there is a requirement to submit some number of articles.  I assume he would like to have some of those reach the "published" status.  I do not know whether the AHS Journal is considered as worthy of inclusion in this class of periodicals of scientific merit, but I would like to know that as well.  Do either you, Ben, or other interested parties know how publication in the AHS Journal is viewed by your peers or other stakeholders in such work?  Does "the boss" record publication in the AHS Journal as an achievement worthy of being noted on a vita, or performance review?  Certainly no one is asserting that the AHS Journal is a scientific Journal, are we?

Finally, I have been made aware that there is some history that taints objectivity in this discussion thread. Once again, seniority has its value.  Not being in any official capacity, I cannot "request a briefing" but suffice it to say I have had a few unsolicited explanations for the fervor that ensues in these conversations (thank you!).  I DO know that I am unable to even form an opinion regarding previously published articles, and whether any were "sloppy", encumbered with "(extreamly?) extremely poor english", or whether any author has any "weak spots".  And Joe, I cannot tell you much about Ben's current submission, other than, 1) it is about white-flowered Hosta, 2) he believes it explains something of interest to hybridizers, 3) he will likely draw inferences from his studies, and 4) the article was submitted around 11 months ago.

There is no doubt that MANY have submitted wonderful articles of scientific interest, and that MANY have been published.  I do NOT know, however, how many are submitted, reviewed and subsequently published.  Is the ratio worse for Ben than others?  If it is worse, why and is it justifiable?  And if justifiable, why isn't Ben accepting of that and then reworking the article(s) quickly to make them acceptable?  While others have formed opinions on both of you "characters", I have not.  And I certainly don't have one on your scientific work other than to know that I would like to read more of it, possibly even in the AHS Journal, though this is not the only place that I, and others, might enjoy access.  I would like to have access to more past publications, and to some quantitative data before I could form any opinion that would allow me to use the inflammatory language that either you or Ben have used in these recent communications regarding Ben's work or the desire to be published in the AHS Journal.  

Is the AHS Journal primarily a scientific journal, a gardening specialty magazine, or does it fit into a unique category, perhaps a very professionally produced, membership "newsletter".  The title of Journal may be a misnomer, relative to other periodicals with this title.  Should the board vote to publish quarterly newsprint type newletters, with an annual "picture book", and semi-annual scientific publications?  I imagine all of these types of questions have been asked and answered, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.  I believe the current venue was reached after 31 years of evolution and it looks pretty successful to me!

Because of the type of adjectives and adverbs being utilized by both parties, I can see that the history of communication has created significant polarization of perspectives.  Unfortunately, the end result may be loss of goodwill, lack of the potential benefit from combined effort, and a decrease in research--an effort that should benefit all parties--not to mention, of course, OUR WONDERFUL HOSTA(S)!  If they had a voice, I wonder what they would say?  With combined effort, maybe we could see Hosta become a new edible crop; find new cures to Hosta maladies; extract serum that would be used in hand-lotions, or medicinally; or we might see Hosta so large they would be used to shade park benches. Who knows?  

Based on all of the above, I will attempt to withdraw from the public discussion of this matter.  I have offered some service to interested parties, and Kevin and others have purposed other measures that could be taken.  I don't know that there is a lot else I, or anyone else, can do.  I believe the parties know what those offered services include.  I do know that I wish that there was greater effort on both of your parts to reach a more amicable solution, and that the feud would not be played out in public.  We all have weak points, we all have strengths.


Andrew Lietzow

halinar@open.org wrote:


>It is very unfortunate for the Hosta research community, however,
>when we lose the focus of any researcher.  We don't want people
>moving AWAY from doing research on this plant, but toward it!

I too would like to see Ben stick with more hosta research, but at the
same time I wish he would be more cooperative in reporting on his
results and not jump to sloppy conclusions so quickly. Ben has a lot
to offer because of his molecular and biochemical genetics background
and the research facilities that he has available, but he also has a
lot of weak spots in understanding botany and horticulture.

I'm not sure just what the problem is with getting an article
published in the Hosta Journal, but he has had other articles
published, so no one is discriminating against him.  The problem with
Ben's articles is his extreamly poor english.  I've done some work
rewriting some articles for the lily society for some Germans, and
it's difficult to do.  In Ben's case you have complicated science that
the reviewers don't understand well combined with his poor english.  I
could easily see where it could take 6 months or more to work out a
suitable manuscript.

Joe Halinar

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