What do peanut aflatoxins, aquaponics, integrated crop pest management and sealed wood offerings have in common? They are all covered in practical application in Clemson Extension’s Land-Grant Press publications.
Written by officers and specialists of Clemson Cooperative Extension and academic scientists primarily from the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences (CAFLS), Land-Grant Press publications are scientific works based on the researched and peer reviewed. But the articles differ from those found in traditional scientific journals by offering public education on a process or method for issues related to the economy, environment, and well-being of South Carolinians.
Envisioned as a partner collection of the hugely popular Home & Garden Information Center (HGIC), which primarily serves residents and master gardeners, Land-Grant Press publications provide training for professionals, managers, and homeowners who benefit from Cooperative Program offerings. Extension, including agriculture, livestock, youth development, natural resources and health.
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In 2016, Dara Park and Sarah White, both professors in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at CAFLS, began developing a proposal for a new publishing initiative. They knew there was a critical need for a centralized online repository of Cooperative Extension publications written for stakeholder audiences not served by HGIC. A deliberate strategy of producing and disseminating information online and in print would effectively help Cooperative Extension provide the most up-to-date information to stakeholders.
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“Scholars and extension workers needed ways to deliver science-based, peer-reviewed information to specific stakeholder audiences,” White said. “Peer review is critical as we need to ensure the quality and accuracy of every post so stakeholders can make informed decisions in a timely manner.”
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The initiative began to gain momentum in 2018 when Park and White took on the roles of consulting editors and Dawn Anticol White, director of publishing and marketing for Clemson Extension, was appointed managing editor to establish the editorial policy and overseeing a formal publishing process. . His experience launching the Journal of South Carolina Water Resources in 2014 and burgeoning publishing partnerships with Clemson Libraries and Clemson University Press provided access to the university’s TigerPrints digital repository and publishing platform, which includes a backend system to manage large-scale workflow and peer review. effective communication.
Land-Grant Press’ ever-expanding repository currently contains over 140 publications. More than 150 authors and 200 guest reviewers contributed their expertise. The diversity of subjects showcases the range of knowledge imparted by the Cooperative Extension program teams, including agribusiness, agronomic crops, forestry and wildlife, horticulture for growers, livestock and forage, rural health and water resources. The three most popular posts to date are very different in subject matter. They include “Homemade Hydraulic Ram Pump for Cattle Water,” “A Key to Aging Whitetail Deer Using the Teeth Replacement and Wear Technique,” and “Guide to Watermelon Fungicides. “.
Park states that “Land-Grant Press publications provide stakeholders with management strategies and applications that can be economically beneficial and environmentally friendly.”
An extensive collection of agronomic crop and horticulture publications provides broad education on pests, cover crops, fungal pathogens, irrigation, precision agriculture, soil health, and fertilization for various row crops, vegetables and fruits. Livestock and forage topics for owners and producers include pasture management, beef cattle raising and equine care. Natural resource writers discuss forest management, irrigation reservoirs, water resources, and pond maintenance. Bids related to rural health and food systems and safety are steadily increasing, while crucial agribusiness bids were accelerated in early 2020 to help multiple industries cope with fluid financial challenges and uncertain supply and demand chains.
The publishing program was still relatively new when the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Thomas Dobbins, director of Clemson Cooperative Extension, said extension staff needed to quickly turn to new methods of delivering education at the height of the pandemic, and increased publishing efforts became a necessity.
“We launched the launch at a very opportune time in 2019 due to increased demand for online resources following the onset of the pandemic,” Dobbins said. “Not only have the number of visitors to the website increased by more than 90% in one year, but the number of submissions from our specialists and agents has also doubled in a few months.”
Agents and specialists had a new outlet through which they could dramatically expand their audience and receive publishing credit for the promotion and permanence of their submissions.
“We’ve built a comprehensive publishing process with specific resources to support authors and ensure recognition of their work,” Dobbins said.
The Land-Grant Press editorial guidelines extend to accepting submissions from Cooperative Extension staff and scientists from other land-grant universities and establishing regional publishing partnerships. Guidance for authors on preparing and submitting publications is available on the website. Three reviewers and a consulting editor provide anonymous feedback during the initial review phase, and at least one of the reviewers must be external to Clemson University. The structured review process helps ensure that content in publications is relevant to the audience and enhances understanding. The majority of reviewers are officers, scholars, and scientists from other land-grant universities, and their participation is acknowledged on the Land-Grant Press website.
“The Land-Grant Press edition is an example of how cooperative research and extension work transparently, effectively and efficiently to help South Carolinians lead healthy and prosperous lives. Our agents and researchers partner to provide access to actionable science-based information,” said Keith L. Belli, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences. “I always thought this could be a distinctive outreach effort for CAFLS, and the volume of traffic to date shows we’re filling a critical need statewide.”
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To date, lgpress.clemson.edu has attracted over 254,000 visitors. The publishing reach is poised for substantial growth this year with the launch of a new series for 4-H youth development programs. Additionally, a new supplemental content section is being developed to showcase research reports from Clemson University’s Research and Education Centers (RECs), as the emphasis on practical application in many many Land-Grant Press publications are generated from REC research.