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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Building on Resources in the Information Age

item Francis, Charles
item Halvorson, Jonathan

Submitted to: Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/25/2010
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: “We are drowning in data, swept away by information, deluged by publications, and nearly overcome by the challenge of sorting things out in search for a few drops of wisdom”, we read recently. Yet, wisdom, evolving from selective consumption, critical assessment and synthesis of important ideas is sorely needed to evaluate and address our increasingly complex problems. How can any individual hope to navigate a path through the sheer mass of competing snips and bits of information that each day surpass the total amount accessible a mere fifteen generations ago? Part of the solution must be to practice careful selection, including relying on trusted people and sources to help in the selection process. This is a strategy we practice this every day, of course, when we skim a local or national newspaper, consult on-line blogs and news services, scan weekly or monthly magazines, and tune into the TV news. In agricultural science we trust in a reiterative methodology that features replicated, controlled experiments, rigorous analysis, and an open peer review process to critically evaluate ideas and provide credible interpretations of data. Factual results, based on experimental observations are further synthesized into recommendations. These are adopted, evaluated and further refined by farmers who seek to increase productivity, profitability, and sustainability of their systems. As with all of us, farmers are pressed for time and must rely on useful and accurate information in order to make optimum decisions for their farms. As one key partner in this process of generating and moving relevant information, the Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems Journal editors have chosen to tackle a particularly complex set of issues, addressing means by which farming and food systems can be improved to be able to contribute to a secure and equitable system for the future. Meeting these goals through interdisciplinary and participatory research requires a real partnership that includes readers, authors, editorial team, and publisher. Our success depends on attracting the best possible papers that will expand our scope by focusing on emerging challenges and by offering novel solutions rather than merely reiterating things we already know about the past and present. We also depend on reader feedback, directly to the editor, or measured by subscription numbers and evaluation criteria. Over several years, all these indicators have been positive. Another dimension of this partnership is the RAFS Journal section for reviews of books, journals, web sites, and other information resources that can be useful to the readership. Critical review and synthesis of materials that you find especially valuable or thought provoking is one important way that you can contribute to this learning community. Reviews will be scrutinized by the editorial staff, providing the same credibility to the evaluation of a resource as we find in refereed journal articles. In addition, many other journals welcome reviews of books and other resources. We urge our readers to submit reviews to the journals you most respect, and in this way to share opinions and new information with our broader community interested in creating an efficient, profitable, environmentally sound, and equitable future food system. This is one way you can be an opinion leader and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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