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Science Editing > Volume 2(1); 2015 > Article
Yamada: Scientific journal status in Japan: the case of agricultural sciences journals, primarily Grassland Science

Abstract

In Japan, most scholarly journals have been published by scientific societies as in other Asian countries. In those days, Japanese and English language articles were commonly found within the same issue of an academic journal published by scientific societies. Many societies of natural sciences started to publish separate periodicals of international journals with an English version and a domestic Japanese version 20 years ago due to the internationalization of the scientific community. The Japanese Society of Grassland Science has also published both an international journal called Grassland Science and a domestic journal called Japanese Journal of Grassland Science (Nihon Sochigakkai Shi) since 2005. The first impact factor for Grassland Science was announced in 2013. International foreign handling editors represent more than half of all handling editors covering the world. Thus, recently, the number of submissions from foreign countries, especially from China, has drastically increased. With the increase in submissions, it becomes difficult to edit a journal professionally because the editors are generally professors in universities and scientists in national institutes who work as part-time volunteer editors and have been changed frequently. The decrease in the number of members is also a serious problem in many societies of agriculture sciences. The construction of an Asian network for scientific information may be one direction in the near future. Additionally, it is be necessary to change to open access journals in order to stabilize the publishing management of the journals.

Introduction

In Japan, most scholarly journals have been published by scientific societies as in other Asian countries. The impact factor (IF) of a scholarly journal is a measure reflecting the average number of citations to recent articles published in that journals. Although numerous criticisms have been made of the use of an IF ranking to compare the quality of journals, the IF value is usually one of the most important motives when authors choose a journal for submission of their manuscript. IF values are scored only for the journals that contain exclusively English language articles. Mixed Japanese and English language articles were common in the same issue of an academic journal published by scientific societies before 2000 in Japan. In those days, many Japanese scholarly journals had no IF values. Thus many Japanese scientists usually submitted high performance papers to the IF scored scholarly journals published in Europe and North America.
Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI) is the biggest national government grant to support creative and pioneering research. Considered ‘competitive research funding,’ it aims to substantially develop all fields of basic research across a wide spectrum of scientific fields, ranging from the humanities and social sciences to the natural sciences. One of the programs in this grant is the Publication of Scientific Research Results, which supports the publication of international scholarly journals in order to promote the internationalization of the scientific community. To be awarded the grant, many academic societies decided to publish an international journal that included only English articles. The number of international journals published by academic societies has increased since the grant was initiated in 2000. Now, many societies of natural sciences publish separate periodicals: both an international journal in English and a domestic journal in Japanese. For example, in the Japanese Agricultural Scientific Society, consisting of 52 academic societies in a range of various scientific fields of agricultural sciences, 25 of these societies publish international English journals scoring IF at present time (Table 1).
Recently, editorial works are carried out using an on-line submission system through publishers such as Wiley, Springer, and Taylor & Francis as well as the Japan Science and Technology Information Aggregator, Electronic (J-STAGE) which was developed by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). In some journals, the manuscripts are still submitted by e-mail and mail (Table 1). Open access (OA) journals have been launched recently, but the number of OA scholarly journals is still a few in Japan.
This article describes the outline of Grassland Science published by the Japanese Society of Grassland Science under the umbrella of the Japanese Agricultural Scientific Society.

Grassland Science

The Japanese Society of Grassland Science publishes an international journal, Grassland Science, through Wiley online (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1744-697X/). This society was established in 1954 and, as of September 30, 2014, has 576 members. The purposes of the society are as follows: Fostering grassland agriculture, addressing issues relative to grassland management for animal production, and progressing grassland- and forage-related crop sciences in Japan.
Members are mainly Japanese scientists with interdisciplinary expertise in forage crop science, forestry, animal science, agribusiness, and additional related fields. In 2005, a mixed language journal published by the society was separated into two types (English and Japanese) of journal, namely, an English version journal ‘Grassland Science’ and a Japanese version journal ‘Japanese Journal of Grassland Science (Nihon Sochigakkai Shi)’.
The first IF value was announced in 2013, and the IF value was 0.554 in 2014. An online editorial system, Scholar One Manuscripts, was adopted in 2011. The editorial board of Grassland Science consists of 12 scientists who are Japanese handling editors and 16 scientists who are foreign handling editors covering the world, including: the USA, Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand, Brazil, China, and Taiwan. Managing editors consist of five Japanese scientists. Print copies are only available to library customers. Grassland Science will move to online-only publication in 2015.
Both the number of overall manuscripts submitted and manuscripts submitted from foreign countries, especially from China, has drastically increased recently (Fig. 1, Table 2). The reasons for the increase in submissions from China may be as follows: the size of the scientific community for grassland sciences expanded due to the high demand for livestock production in China; the journal’s high IF score as there are no IF journals relating to the scientific field of grassland sciences in China. Many manuscripts from China have been published with the increasing quality recently. The number of papers from China and Japan that have been published in the 2014 issues is almost the same (Table 3). Now, Grassland Science has become an international journal including many articles from a variety of foreign countries. Thus, Grassland Science has been successful in terms of the internationalization of a scholarly journal published by the society.
With the increased number of submission recently; however, it becomes difficult to edit the journal professionally because the editors are generally professors in universities and scientists in national institutes who work as part-time volunteer and have been changed frequently. The decrease in the number of members of the society is also a serious problem being faced by many other societies of agriculture sciences in Japan. The number of members of the Japanese Society of Grassland Science has decreased annually as well. Therefore, in the near future, some problems such as a decrease in paper contributions from members and a decrease in financial support from the society may occur.

Conclusion

Recently, OA journals have gained in popularity. OA journals are freely available to all readers using internet access. Generally, unrestricted online access to peer-reviewed research articles is available when authors pay an article processing charge. In Grassland Science, OA for an article is available through a one-off author fee as a publishing option. The shift to an OA journal may provide a chance to stabilize the publishing management even when the scientific society is decreasing in membership.
At present, journals published in Europe and North America have a higher IF than those published in Asian countries including China, Korea, and Japan. Thus, scientists in Asian countries want to publish in journals with a higher IF in Europe and North America rather than in journals published in Asian countries. Therefore, establishment of an Asian network for scientific information may be important in the future in order to increase IF in journals published in Asian countries. The distinctive weather feature of the monsoon in Asia is a contrast to other regions such as Europe and North America in terms of the agriculture situation. For example, agriculture is based mainly on rice production in Asia. To cultivate fodder crops, paddy fields are also essential land in Asia. Such scientific information should be dispatched from the Asian scientific network. In order to challenge the journals in Europe and North America, it could be necessary to launch Asian journals with scientific networks among Asian countries for the development of scientific activities in Asian countries.

Conflict of Interest

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

Number of submited manuscripts in Grassland Science.
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Fig. 1.

Table 1.

International English journals in scientific societies under the umbrella of the Japanese Agricultural Scientific Society
Scientific society International journal Publisher/submission system
Japanese Society of Breeding Breeding Science J-STAGE
Japanese Society for Horticultural Science Journal of the Japanese Society for Horticultural Science J-STAGE
The Japanese Society of Applied Glycoscience Journal of Applied Glycoscience E-mail
Japanese Society of Applied Entomology and Zoology Applied Entomology and Zoology Springer
Japan Poultry Science Association The Journal of Poultry Science J-STAGE
Crop Science Society of Japan Plant Production Science J-STAGE
Weed Science Society of Japan Weed Biology and Management Wiley
The Japanese Society of Sericultural Science Journal of Insect Biotechnology and Sericology E-mail
The Japanese Society of Veterinary Science Journal of Veterinary Medical Science Advance Publications J-STAGE
The Phytopathological Society of Japan Journal of General Plant Pathology Springer
Japanese Forest Society Journal of Forest Research Springer
Japanese Society of Fisheries Science Fisheries Science Springer
Japanese Society of Agricultural, Biological and Environmental Engineers and Scientists Environment Control in Biology E-mail
Japanese Society of Grassland Science Grassland Science Wiley
Japanese Society of Animal Science Animal Science Journal Wiley
Japanese Society of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition Soil Science and Plant Nutrition Taylor & Francis
Japanese Society for Tropical Agriculture Japanese Journal of Tropical Agriculture J-STAGE
The Japanese Society of Agricultural Machinery and Food Engineers Engineering in Agriculture, Environment and Food Elsevier
The Society of Agricultural Meteorology of Japan Journal of Agricultural Meteorology J-STAGE
The Agricultural Economics Society of Japan Japanese Journal of Rural Economics Mail
Japan Society for Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Agrochemistry Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry Taylor & Francis
Pesticide Science Society of Japan Journal of Pesticide Science J-STAGE
The Japanese Society of Animal Reproduction Journal of Reproduction and Development J-STAGE
The Food System Research Association of Japan Journal of Food Research J-STAGE
The Japan Wood Research Society Journal of Wood Science Springer

J-STAGE, Japan Science and Technology Information Aggregator, Electronic.

Table 2.

Number of papers submitted to Grassland Science sorted by country of the correspondence author
Country 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Japan 31 33 24 27 37 29 25
China 1 1 6 15 29 41 45
India 0 2 5 4 6 2 0
Korea 3 0 2 0 0 0 1
USA 3 4 1 4 6 3 9
Argentina 3 0 1 3 0 3 1
Germany 1 0 0 4 1 1 0
Brazil 0 0 2 1 1 4 3
Australia 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Other Asian countries 5 3 4 13 8 10 14
Other European countries 0 2 0 1 6 10 5
Others 6 1 1 5 4 3 9
Total 54 47 46 77 98 106 112

Table 3.

Number of papers published in Grassland Science sorted by country of the correspondence author
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Japan 26 Japan 23 Japan 27 Japan 22 Japan 20 Japan 25 Japan 13
USA 2 China 2 USA 2 China 6 China 2 China 5 China 12
Germany 1 USA 2 UAE 1 USA 1 USA 4 USA 4 USA 3
Korea 1 Iran 2 Germany 1 South Africa 1 Germany 1 Italy 2
Australia 1 Hungary 1 India 1 Germany 3 Lao PDR 1 South Africa 1
UAE 1 India 1 Canada 1 Lao PDR 1 Ireland 1 Argentina 1
Other 5 Canada 1 Thailand 2 Brazil 1
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