Annals of Applied Biology Turns 100

May 2014
Jari Valkonen and colleagues on the journal’s centennial
Annals of Applied Biology

This year, Annals of Applied Biology celebrates its 100th anniversary. To mark the occasion, we present remarks from Editor-in-Chief Jari Valkonen, Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Helsinki, Finland, on the journal’s history and current mission. We also present a selection of the journal’s most-cited papers.

Annals, the journal of the Association of Applied Biologists, is published by Wiley. In Journal Citation Reports®, it is covered under Agriculture, Multidisciplinary; in Essential Science Indicators, under Agricultural Sciences.

Prof. Valkonen’s responses to the questions below are based in part on an Annals editorial he co-authored earlier this year with the journal’s senior editors, discussing the anniversary (R.A. Azvedo, et al., Annals of Applied Biology, 164: 1-7, 2014).

SW: Would you give us a brief history of the journal?

The applied biologists in the United Kingdom had formed an association in 1904, but it was concluded that a journal was also needed to strengthen the organisation. In his editorial published in the first issue of Annals of Applied Biology in 1914, the first Editor, Harold Maxwell-Lefroy, stated that the motivation to establish a new journal reporting results of scientific research in the field of applied biology was because large problems, in which technical knowledge was required, were settled without such knowledge. He noted that the scientific libraries contained literature on basic science, but nearly nothing related to the applied aspects. It was a difficult struggle to keep the journal financially viable for the duration of the war in 1914-18 and for several years afterwards. Also during World War II publication continued despite considerable difficulties. In 1961, back issues of Annals were reprinted and made available to new university libraries, which proved to be an extremely successful venture financially. In 1969, a Board of Editors was established, comprising 20 scientists with a wide range of expertise. Today the Editorial board consists of 60 members, including several statistical editors. Annals became available online in 2000. All issues published since 1914 can now be accessed through the Wiley Online Library:

SW: What is the journal’s primary role nowadays?

Annals  publishes results of applied research, or research whose applications in agriculture are obvious.

SW: How would you account for the journal’s longevity? How has the journal evolved along with the field it covers, and have there been particularly noteworthy developments or historical factors along these lines?

Annals was established in correspondence to a real need for applicable information, which would be utilized to solve problems in agriculture. The journal has remained faithful to its original scope. Therefore, Annals is rather exceptional in its broad coverage of topics and encompasses the scientific disciplines of agronomy, agrienvironmental sciences, applied genomics, biodiversity, biological control, climate change, crop ecology, entomology, genetic manipulation, mycology, nematology, pests, plant pathology, plant breeding and genetics, plant physiology, postharvest biology, soil science, virology and weed biology. Because the papers selected for publication in Annals must contribute to strategies aiming to solve contemporary problems in agriculture, the journal is developing along with the new challenges of agriculture. The most noteworthy recent developments include making Annals available online and the agreement according to which Wiley publishes Annals on behalf of the Association of Applied Biologists. These developments have expanded the readership of Annals immensely.

Annals of Applied Biology: Highlights from 100 Years
Most-cited papers indexed in Web of Science from 1914 to 2014,
listed by citations

Rank Paper Citations
1 C.I. Bliss, “The calculation of the dosage-mortality curve,” Annals of Applied Biology, 1: 134-6, 1935. 865
2 J.M. Hirst, “An automatic volumetric spore trap,” Annals of Applied Biology, 2: 257, 1952, 655
3 C.I. Bliss, “The toxicity of poisons applied jointly,” Annals of Applied Biology, 3: 585-615, 1939. 595
4 D.R. Tottman, “The decimal code for the growth stages of cereals, with illustrations,” Annals of Applied Biology, 110(2): 441-54, 1987. 436
5 P.D. Lancashire, et al., “A uniform decimal code for growth stages of crops and weeds,” Annals of Applied Biology, 119(3): 561-601, 1991. 417
6 A.G. Whitehead, J.R. Hemming, “A comparison of some quantitative methods of extracting vermiform nematodes from soil,” Annals of Applied Biology, 55(1): 25, 1965. 412
7 R. Cousens, “A simple model relating yield loss to weed density,” Annals of Applied Biology, 107(2): 239-52, 1985. 387
8 D.R. Tottman, R.J. Makepeace, “Explanation of the decimal code for the growth stages of cereals, with illustrations,” Annals of Applied Biology, 93(2): 221-34, 1979. 277
9 A.J. Wapshere, “Strategy for evaluating safety of organisms for biological weed control,” Annals of Applied Biology, 77(2): 201-11, 1974. 276
10 A. Varma, V.G. Malathi, “Emerging geminivirus problems: A serious threat to crop production,” Annals of Applied Biology, 142(2): 145-64, 2003. 222
SOURCE: Thomson Reuters Web of Science

SW: In your view, what is the journal’s main significance or contribution in the field of agriculture and beyond?

Annals has published 8,804 papers in the 100 years. These papers have been written by 9,325 different authors from 134 countries and all continents. The Impact Factor (IF) value passed 1.0 in 2004, and 2.0 in 2011. If we consider the IF value as an indicator of the relative scientific importance of a journal within its field, Annals has been ranked continuously 3rd to 5th among the journals in the “Agriculture, Multidisciplinary” subject category since 2004. In this respect it is noteworthy that in 2004 there were 29 journals in the subject category, whereas the number of journals reached 57 in 2012. However, because Annals publishes results of applied research, the IF value is not the only indicator of usefulness of the information published in the journal, because many users of information are not scientists, but specialists in agriculture and other fields of applied biology. They may frequently study the papers published in Annals, but do not write and publish scientific papers and hence do not contribute to the IF. A large number of readers of Annals belong to this important other category of users. This is indicated by the 107,230 full-text article downloads from Annals in 2013. Since Annals became available online, the numbers of full papers downloaded has increased by 10–15% per year. Today, Annals is available in 7,866 institutions worldwide, including 2,678 institutions in the developing world via philanthropic initiatives.

SW: How do you see the field evolving in the next few years, and what role do you see for Annals?

The results of applied research in various fields of biology are needed no less now than they were 100 years ago when Annals was established. There are great global challenges faced in food production and the supply of fresh water as a result of the continuously increasing world population and climate change. For example, understanding the interactions between plants, insects, microbes and abiotic factors is essential if we are to be able to manage crops in the field and greenhouse. Many important applications are based on the results of basic research carried out in molecular biology, and Annals will continue to publish such novel applications relevant in agriculture and applied fields of biology. Journals such as Annals paying proper attention to quality aspects of scientific analysis and critical assessment of results, including the proper use of statistical methods, will continue to be popular and readers will rely on them as sources of reliable information. Annals has a long tradition in publishing qualified papers in applied biology, and the editors and the Association are committed to maintaining good scientific practice. In this way the journal will continue to disseminate novel, interesting and useful results to the global readership.

Prof. Jari Valkonen
University of Helsinki

The data and citation records included in this report are from Thomson Reuters Web of ScienceTM. Web of ScienceTM is a registered trademark of Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.