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Editorial: A Scientifically Rigorous and User-Friendly Rangeland Ecology & Management

Roger Sheley, Chad Boyd, James Dobrowolski, Stuart Hardegree, Jeremy James, Jane Mangold
Rangeland ecology & management 2016 v.69 no.1 pp. 1-3
carbon, climate change, ecosystems, guidelines, managers, mentoring, momentum, rain, range management, rangelands, resource management, scientists, soil, uncertainty, wildlife habitats
Rangeland Ecology and Management (REM) is the premier journal for communication of science-based knowledge and for fostering both innovation and rigor in our stewardship of the world’s rangelands. REM is critical to the mission of the Society for Range Management and has had increasing scientific impact and management relevance in recent years. We identified several new goals for REM to maintain momentum for continued improvements in both the scientific quality and professional value of the journal into the future. Through discussions with REM and non-REM authors, current and new editorial staff, and others, three new initiatives have been identified. First, the position of the Associate Editor (AE) has been strengthened to provide a more active role in managing a respectful and constructive discussion between blind reviewers and authors. The review will continue to promote the highest possible scientific rigor, but will also provide targeted assistance in manuscript development to maximize potential contributions to the literature. Second, we propose to revise and extend guidelines for authors, AEs and reviewers to reduce uncertainty in the format and level of scientific rigor expected for different types of manuscripts and to ensure that authors can expect consistent outcomes from similar submissions. The third emphasis area is to encourage and expand official recognition of those authors, AEs, and reviewers who make exceptional contributions to rangeland ecology and management through scientific rigor and impact, and the facilitation and mentoring of effective communication of science through the editorial and review process. Rangelands, including arid, semi-arid and dry-subhumid ecosystems, cover nearly one-half of the earth’s land surface and provide life sustaining goods and services to one-third of the global population (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). Rangelands store about 45% of the global terrestrial carbon, provide critical wildlife habitat worldwide, and encompass a third of the global diversity hotspots (Allen-Diaz et al. 1996; Myers et al. 2000). Low and variable rainfall combined with often infertile soil make the world’s rangelands highly susceptible to degradation, invasion, and global climate change (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). The mission of Rangeland Ecology and Management (REM) is to foster innovation and communication of science-based knowledge aimed at promoting sustainable stewardship of the World’s rangelands. The content of our journal both defines and reflects our professional accomplishments, and success of the journal is directly linked to the contributions of our profession to society. REM’s contribution and impact to science and management has improved significantly in the past twelve years, and the journal’s impact factor has been very consistent or slightly increased over the past few decades as a result of citations in other highly respected journals of ecology and resource management. Publication of REM is critical to the mission of the Society for Range Management. We should be very proud of the contribution it has made to the general society by advancing rangeland science and management. This contribution is an extension of the innovative thinking, novel research, and profound ideas of authors who contribute to REM. Authors are the essential core of REM, and future operational procedures will focus on making the entire publication process more timely, useful and constructive for them. Over the next few years, the editorial board will be working to continue to streamline the process of conveying author’s important work to end users. To that end, REM has teamed with Elsevier publishing, which is a world class publishing company. Elsevier and our editorial board are dedicated to working with authors and reviewers to improve the review process and help make each manuscript the best possible presentation of concepts, ideas and applied research. Overall, we hope to improve the experience and value to authors, reviewers and readers when working with REM. With the help of authors, our editorial board, and reviewers, REM will continue to be the premier mechanism for communication among rangeland scientists and managers well into the future. Periodically, it is worthwhile to assess opportunities for improving the refereed peer review process and adjust the system to encourage authors to submit their highest-quality manuscripts to REM. Over the past few months, the SRM editorial board has been actively identifying opportunities for improvement and methods that might foster a more user-friendly process and higher quality product at publication. The objectives of this editorial are to: 1) solidify the case for publishing in REM, 2) set goals for the future operations of the refereed peer review process, 3) clarify the kinds of manuscripts that are desirable in REM and provide some guidelines for their assessment, and 4) discuss new methods for recognizing key participants for their outstanding contributions in the form of manuscripts and the refereed peer review process.