A Comprehensive Analysis and Scientific Impact of ASHS Cross-commodity Publication Awards

Authors:
Daniel I. Leskovar Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Texas A&M University, Uvalde, TX 78801, USA

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Kuan Qin Department of Horticulture, University of Georgia, Griffin, GA 30223, USA

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Established in 1985, the Cross-Commodity Publication Award recognizes authors of the most outstanding paper on horticultural cross-commodity research, including broadly applicable methodology, pre- and postharvest physiology, genetics, anatomy, morphology, ecology, crop production systems, modeling, and management, published in the previous year’s issues of the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science (JASHS), HortScience, or HortTechnology. Through the 39-year span (1985–2023), there were 38 papers that have been awarded (Table 1). Among all papers, two of them were published in HortTechnology, nine in HortScience, and 27 in the JASHS. Most of the awarded papers were basic research, which was aiming to understand the occurrence of a phenomenon and the response of plants; and applicable methodology, which was developed to facilitate efficient phenotyping or plant propagation and production. In addition, most of the studies were conducted under controlled environment and laboratory conditions, and there were several papers studying multiple crops spanning from fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals within one experimental set.

Table 1.

List of ASHS Cross-Commodity Publication Award papers followed by years and their category, study crops, study condition, and brief summary.

Table 1.
Table 1.
Table 1.

Analysis and approaches

The framework of this analysis for the winner papers published was constructed initially by a set of discrete questions that provided metrics such as authorship number, affiliation, and country of origin, journal type, crop category of single or combination of horticultural crops (e.g., fruits, vegetables, ornamentals), non-commodity specific (e.g., instrumentation, surveys), discipline, and major topics related to challenges in food systems (e.g., climate change, water use efficiency, sustainability, organics). We also explored interesting facts from the awarded papers, for example, what were the noun, adjective, or verb words that appeared more times from the title? For analysis we used the udpipe package in R (R Core Team 2023), which is a natural language processing toolkit that provides language-agnostic analysis, including annotating text genres (noun, adjective, verb, etc.) and counting the frequencies of term appearance.

Considering all the 38 papers, our primary review objective was to identify the central themes, their historical perspective, and their scientific impact in horticulture post-publication date. Following, we analyzed the contribution of selected key papers in a specific field of science and the prevalence in time post-publication date to determine if they served as a milestone in a specific theme and/or research area. To accomplish this objective, we used the Web of Science (Clarivate Analytics PLC, London, UK) as the database to find the citation reports for these awarded papers including titles, authorships, citations, institute/departments, and research areas. It is important to note that although Google Scholar (Google LLC, Mountain View, CA, USA) is another great database to search the information, compared with Web of Science, Google Scholar does not have a complete citation report, and it has inflated citation counts due to inclusion of all sources of documents including peer-reviewed journals, conference papers, theses and dissertations, extension publications, books, preprints, abstracts, technical reports, patents, and other online repositories. In addition, Google Scholar produced more irrelevant results when search because it cannot distinguish similar author names unless you have a Google Scholar profile.

Review for basic information

Researchers with affiliations from the US Department of Agriculture have won the most awards (18 individuals), followed by the University of California system (13 individuals), and the University of Wisconsin system (13 individuals). Interestingly, only two researchers have won this award twice, Jack E. Staub’s papers that were published in 1996 (Staub et al. 1996) and 2011 (Gordon and Staub 2011), and Leslie H. Fuchigami’s papers that were published in 1989 (Chalker-Scott et al. 1989) and 2009 (Ding et al. 2009). As the cross-commodity award, the 38 winner papers covered diverse research areas including genetics, heredity, biochemistry, molecular biology, environmental science, ecology, biotechnology, applied microbiology, pathology, anatomy morphology, food science technology, entomology, agricultural economics, computational biology, etc. The most occurring nouns in awarded paper titles were fruit and analysis (six times), followed by growth (five times), system, plants, temperature, gene, transport, and salt (three times) (Fig. 1A); the most occurring adjective in awarded paper titles was comparative (three times), followed by small, polymorphic, genetic, sweet, and photosynthetic (two times) (Fig. 1B); the most occurring verb in awarded paper titles was using (eight times), followed by controlled, based (three times), and amplified (two times) (Fig. 1C).

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

Most occurring nouns (A), adjectives (B), and verbs (C) by frequency (times) in ASHS Cross-Commodity Publication Award paper titles from 1985 to 2023.

Citation: HortTechnology 34, 3; 10.21273/HORTTECH05363-23

Impact and contribution to horticultural sciences

To date, the total citations (accessed 24 Oct 2023) for these papers were 879, with 23 average citations per year. Papers with the top three citations are Staub et al. (1996) (97 citations), Levi et al. (1993) (62 citations), and Merk et al. (2012) (61 citations); and papers with the top three average citations per year are Merk et al. (2012) (5 citations/year), Staub et al. (1996) (3.5 citations/year), and van Iersel et al. (2016) (3.1 citations/year).

To answer priority questions related to the scientific impact and to whether a particular paper serves as a milestone for a specific research area, we needed to identify all the papers that have cited the awarded papers, as well as their specific research areas, and the evolution of the specific research area over years. To accomplish that we use a software, CiteSpace (Chen 2016), which can generate visualizing patterns and trends in scientific papers based on their citation and cocitation interactions. For example, if a paper 1 cites a paper A, and paper 2 and paper 3 also cite the paper A, then this paper A is cocited, and could become an important paper for a specific research area, and this specific area can be “documented” with some keywords generated by CiteSpace based on the appeared frequency from title, abstract, keyword, etc. After we know the year published for the paper A, we could also reveal the research trend over the years.

We have selected three papers to do this deeper analysis. The first one was Staub et al. (1996). Staub et al. (1996) has been cited by 97 other papers, and these 97 papers cited many other papers, and overall, we found that there are two major theme clusters (or groups) that are all related to the genetic linkage map (Fig. 2). The difference between these two clusters is due to each having different key papers (like the paper A), which is reflected by the circle size (bigger means more important or that has been cited more times), but regardless, they all lead to interspecific “genetic map” research. Although Staub et al. (1996) does not show as a key paper to directly affect this research area probably because Staub et al. (1996) was published decades ago and there were relatively few comparable papers published during that period, Staub et al. (1996) has indirectly inspired these 97 papers that focused on research in genetic maps even after 15 years (1996–2011).

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

Research trend of the 97 papers that cited Staub et al. (1996) (received ASHS Cross-Commodity Publication Award in 1997), which are grouped into two main clusters (green and yellow). Both clusters are related to interspecific genetic maps but are centered in different years (2008 for the green cluster and 2011 for the yellow cluster).

Citation: HortTechnology 34, 3; 10.21273/HORTTECH05363-23

The second paper is Merk et al. (2012). Unlike Staub et al. (1996), Merk et al. (2012) has served as an important paper to guide a major research trend. Merk et al. (2012) directly inspired the research in genome-wide association studies, as is evident by the major cluster, representing major impact in this field (Fig. 3, yellow line). Merk et al. (2012) also indirectly inspired the research in many other diverse aspects and crop commodities; and these research areas are still active at the current date (Fig. 3, for #0, #3 and #7 clusters, represented by red, green, and purple lines). Because Merk et al. (2012) has directly inspired the research in genome-wide association studies and phenotyping, we searched all the papers related to these two keywords and explored their research trends (Fig. 4). We found these two keywords have extended their research trend to high-throughput phenotyping, wheat (Triticum aestivum), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), externally visible characteristics, etc. Some studies are recent, and some are from old research. Although in this case, Merk et al. (2012) is hard to identify (not an important paper anymore because the paper pool is too big), but we can see the importance of cross-commodity studies using different types of plant species.

Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.

Research trend of the 61 papers that cited Merk et al. (2012) (received ASHS Cross-Commodity Publication Award in 2013), which are grouped into several clusters, showing Merk et al. (2012) is having both direct and indirect effects on these research trends, especially with the keyword “genome-wide association.”

Citation: HortTechnology 34, 3; 10.21273/HORTTECH05363-23

Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.

Research trend of the papers related to the keywords “genome-wide association” and “phenotyping” that are generated from Merk et al. (2012).

Citation: HortTechnology 34, 3; 10.21273/HORTTECH05363-23

The third paper is van Iersel et al. (2016). As a recently published paper, van Iersel et al. (2016) has relatively higher average citations per year, showing his paper directly inspired the research in quantum yield of photochemical reaction studies, as evident by the biggest impact on that cluster, and this research is still very active at the current date (Fig. 5, second yellow line). van Iersel et al. (2016) also indirectly inspired the research in many other thematic-related areas such as supplemental light, light quality, leafy greens, etc. These areas currently constitute hot topics in controlled environment agriculture (CEA) production (Resh 2022). Again, since van Iersel et al. (2016) has directly inspired the research in CEA, light, and photosynthesis studies, we searched all the papers related to these keywords and explored their research trends (Fig. 6). A similar explanation as before, but in this case, the research trend is more related to multiple research themes focusing on physiology, phenotyping, and production, instead of multiple crops.

Fig. 5.
Fig. 5.

Research trend of the 22 papers that cited van Iersel et al. (2016), which are grouped into several clusters, showing van Iersel et al. (2016) (second line in yellow) is having both direct and indirect effects on the research trend.

Citation: HortTechnology 34, 3; 10.21273/HORTTECH05363-23

Fig. 6.
Fig. 6.

Research trend of the papers related to the keywords “controlled environment agriculture (CEA),” “light,” and “photosynthesis” that are generated from van Iersel et al. (2016).

Citation: HortTechnology 34, 3; 10.21273/HORTTECH05363-23

Taking into account the three highly cited papers (Figs. 24) we can infer that compared with the older awarded papers, the newer awarded papers have impacts on more diverse research themes or topics.

Future directions for cross-commodity publications

As can clearly be seen, papers honored in the cross-commodity award have continuous impacts on defining, developing, and inspiring areas of research. Multidisciplinary, multiple research focus (physiology, phenotyping, production), and multiple crops or commodities have become key aspects for the award selection. Future directions will continuously focus on basic research aimed to a) understand plant responses under global environmental changes; b) applicable methodology with the incorporated application of advanced technology, artificial intelligence, data-driven, and cost-effective solutions; and c) management practices to sustainably improve plant production and quality in pre- and postharvest processing stages under various cropping systems and environments.

Conclusive remarks from awarded authors

We were excited to have interviewed three authors of two awarded papers (Chalker-Scott et al. 1989; van Iersel et al. 2016) on the perspectives and significance of their research topics and findings. Dr. Leslie H. Fuchigami, Emeritus Professor at the Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University (Corvallis, OR, USA) emphasized the importance of sub-lethal stress (above freezing) and the role of high pH in precipitation of phenolics through the formation of reactive oxygen species. This was the framework for his student—now Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, Professor and Extension Urban Horticulturist at Washington State University, Puyallup Research and Extension Center (WSU PREC), Puyallup, WA, USA—to develop a handy and simple objective method to measure phenolics in leachates as an indicator of freeze damage, a technique that can be used presently. Dr. Rhuanito Ferrarezi, coauthor of the CEA influential paper by van Iersel et al. (2016), described that their manuscript was highly theoretical with a fascinating topic and the potential for application but not thinking it would have such an impact on the industry by simply connecting a serial output in the MINI-PAM II (Heinz Walz GmbH, Effeltrich, Germany) to a serial reader of a CR1000 datalogger (Campbell Scientific Inc, Logan, UT, USA). At the closing interviews, we asked them how significant these awards were. Leslie humbly expressed “…students deserve all the credits for these awards,” his student Linda added “…these awards validate yourself as scientist and increase self-confidence,” and Rhuanito shared “…the academic environment is suitable to foster and nurture young minds, bringing the ability to interact beyond the conference rooms in tours and coffee breaks.”

UF1

Jack Staub (1948–2019)

Citation: HortTechnology 34, 3; 10.21273/HORTTECH05363-23

UF2

Marc W. van Iersel (1965–2023)

Citation: HortTechnology 34, 3; 10.21273/HORTTECH05363-23

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  • Fig. 1.

    Most occurring nouns (A), adjectives (B), and verbs (C) by frequency (times) in ASHS Cross-Commodity Publication Award paper titles from 1985 to 2023.

  • Fig. 2.

    Research trend of the 97 papers that cited Staub et al. (1996) (received ASHS Cross-Commodity Publication Award in 1997), which are grouped into two main clusters (green and yellow). Both clusters are related to interspecific genetic maps but are centered in different years (2008 for the green cluster and 2011 for the yellow cluster).

  • Fig. 3.

    Research trend of the 61 papers that cited Merk et al. (2012) (received ASHS Cross-Commodity Publication Award in 2013), which are grouped into several clusters, showing Merk et al. (2012) is having both direct and indirect effects on these research trends, especially with the keyword “genome-wide association.”

  • Fig. 4.

    Research trend of the papers related to the keywords “genome-wide association” and “phenotyping” that are generated from Merk et al. (2012).

  • Fig. 5.

    Research trend of the 22 papers that cited van Iersel et al. (2016), which are grouped into several clusters, showing van Iersel et al. (2016) (second line in yellow) is having both direct and indirect effects on the research trend.

  • Fig. 6.

    Research trend of the papers related to the keywords “controlled environment agriculture (CEA),” “light,” and “photosynthesis” that are generated from van Iersel et al. (2016).

  • Jack Staub (1948–2019)

  • Marc W. van Iersel (1965–2023)

  • Akers CP, Akers SW, Mitchell CA. 1985. The minitron system for growth of small plants under controlled environment conditions. J Am Soc Hortic Sci. 110(3):353357. https://doi.org/10.21273/JASHS.110.3.353.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Anderson JA, Padhye SR. 2004. Protein aggregation, radical scavenging capacity, and stability of hydrogen peroxide defense systems in heat-stressed vinca and sweet pea leaves. J Am Soc Hortic Sci. 129(1):5459. https://doi.org/10.21273/jashs.129.1.0054.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Atkins IK, Boldt JK. 2022. Photosynthetic responses of greenhouse ornamentals to interaction of irradiance, carbon dioxide concentration, and temperature. J Am Soc Hortic Sci. 147(2):8294. https://doi.org/10.21273/jashs05115-21.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Barb JG, Werner DJ, Griesbach RJ. 2008. Genetics and biochemistry of flower color in stokes aster. J Am Soc Hortic Sci. 133(4):569578. https://doi.org/10.21273/jashs.133.4.569.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Beaulieu JC, Pesis E, Saltveit ME. 1998. AA or basic pH causes in vitro and nonenzymatic cleavage of ACC to ethylene. J Am Soc Hortic Sci. 123(4):675680. https://doi.org/10.21273/jashs.123.4.675.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Beyer M, Knoche M. 2002. Studies on water transport through the sweet cherry fruit surface: V. Conductance for water uptake. J Am Soc Hortic Sci. 127(3):325332. https://doi.org/10.21273/jashs.127.3.325.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bielenberg DG, Gasic K. 2019. Controlled-temperature treatments with low-cost, off-the-shelf equipment for bud or seed forcing experiments. HortScience. 54(4):766768. https://doi.org/10.21273/hortsci13649-18.

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Daniel I. Leskovar Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Texas A&M University, Uvalde, TX 78801, USA

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Kuan Qin Department of Horticulture, University of Georgia, Griffin, GA 30223, USA

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Contributor Notes

We greatly appreciate the time and input received from authors Drs. L. Chalker-Scott, L. Fuchigami, and R. Ferrarezi on the significance of their paper awards and contribution to horticultural sciences and young professionals. This review honors the contribution of two giants in horticultural sciences, Dr. Jack Staub and Dr. Marc W. van Iersel.

25 Years of Publication Excellence Awards for ASHS Journals.

D.I.L. is the corresponding author. E-mail: d-leskovar@tamu.edu.

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  • Fig. 1.

    Most occurring nouns (A), adjectives (B), and verbs (C) by frequency (times) in ASHS Cross-Commodity Publication Award paper titles from 1985 to 2023.

  • Fig. 2.

    Research trend of the 97 papers that cited Staub et al. (1996) (received ASHS Cross-Commodity Publication Award in 1997), which are grouped into two main clusters (green and yellow). Both clusters are related to interspecific genetic maps but are centered in different years (2008 for the green cluster and 2011 for the yellow cluster).

  • Fig. 3.

    Research trend of the 61 papers that cited Merk et al. (2012) (received ASHS Cross-Commodity Publication Award in 2013), which are grouped into several clusters, showing Merk et al. (2012) is having both direct and indirect effects on these research trends, especially with the keyword “genome-wide association.”

  • Fig. 4.

    Research trend of the papers related to the keywords “genome-wide association” and “phenotyping” that are generated from Merk et al. (2012).

  • Fig. 5.

    Research trend of the 22 papers that cited van Iersel et al. (2016), which are grouped into several clusters, showing van Iersel et al. (2016) (second line in yellow) is having both direct and indirect effects on the research trend.

  • Fig. 6.

    Research trend of the papers related to the keywords “controlled environment agriculture (CEA),” “light,” and “photosynthesis” that are generated from van Iersel et al. (2016).

  • Jack Staub (1948–2019)

  • Marc W. van Iersel (1965–2023)

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