Can 'roads scholars' aid access?

International Journal of Pavement Engineering
November 25, 2005

Good transportation systems are essential to the delivery of goods and services in both technologically advanced and developing countries, and good pavement engineering is a cornerstone of these transportation systems. The International Journal of Pavement Engineering (IJPE) is dedicated to the publication of cutting-edge pavement-related research from around the world and aims "to be the first choice for publishing... in the important field of pavement engineering".

About two thirds of the papers published in IJPE 's 23 issues so far describe academic research studies, while about a third concern case studies and field trials or the use of field data to validate theoretical models. A handful of state-of-the-art reviews concerning various aspects of pavement engineering have also been published in accordance with one of the journal's stated aims of "transfer(ring) advanced pavement understanding to the user community".

The range of topics covered is broad, although materials-related papers (mainly concerning asphalt concrete mixtures and bitumen properties) have made up about 25 per cent of its articles with slightly less than 25 per cent devoted to analytical and distress modelling topics. Other topics with significant coverage include modification and characterisation of bases and foundations, pavement evaluation through non-destructive testing and other techniques, pavement management, the development and validation of structural and materials tests, pavement performance, and maintenance/rehabilitation techniques.

There have also been papers devoted to construction issues, structural design, economic analysis, quality control/quality assurance, superheavy loading, forensics, recycling and tyre-pavement interaction.

For readers and researchers with an interest in pavement engineering, IJPE is a uniquely concentrated source of predominantly high-quality references that describe developments in the topic areas listed previously. Readers are also encouraged to register for advance notification of articles to be published in IJPE through the free Scholarly Articles Research Alerting service ( www.tandf.co.uk/sara ).

For typical pavement engineering authors, IJPE offers several advantages over other journals. One is that IJPE has no arbitrary limitation on paper length. Other prominent journals that cover pavement engineering restrict paper length to as few as 7,500 words and may deduct 250 words from that for each figure and table included. While it is important to encourage concise accounts of relevant findings, arbitrary paper length restrictions often force authors to omit supporting documentation, limit meaningful interpretation of presented data and/or treat the subject incompletely.

Removing length restrictions puts a greater burden on journal editors, but probably results in the publication of more useful papers. The editors of IJPE are to be commended for adopting this policy.

The journal also offers authors and subscribers the benefit of focus. Other publications that include pavement engineering papers (such as the Transportation Research Record , or TRR series, the American Society of Civil Engineers' Journal of Transportation Engineering and others) also include numerous papers that address issues such as highway capacity, transportation planning, driver studies and so on. The IJPE focus on pavement engineering helps to increase the probability that each included article will be of interest to the intended audience.

One final issue of importance for pavement engineering academicians is the value and weighting of publications in the promotion and tenure process.

The TRR (subtitled the Journal of the Transportation Research Board ) is one of the principal publication venues for pavement researchers around the world because of its broad distribution and the high visibility afforded by accompanying presentations at the annual Transportation Research Board (TRB) meeting. However, the TRR is widely dismissed in academic circles as a conference proceeding and thus assigned an exceedingly low impact factor.

This is something of a conundrum for pavement engineering faculty who need to publish in journals that are considered sufficiently scholarly for promotion and tenure, but also desire the visibility of presentation and publication through the TRB. With continued growth and increased circulation, the IJPE may help to address this need by becoming the leading international publication in the pavement engineering field. The editors report that impact factors for the IJPE will probably be available in 2006.

I have only one concern about the IJPE . After reviewing all available issues, I found that bituminous paving topics were the subject of about 90 papers, while only 12 were devoted to concrete paving topics and only one dealt with aggregate-surfaced roadways. The remaining articles addressed pavement base and foundation issues (without regard for surface type). Six issues contained only articles dealing with bituminous paving and materials topics. The heavy skewing of content could be viewed as unfortunate because the lack of balance diminishes the value of the publication to engineers and researchers in other pavement-related areas.

In fairness, it appears that the new IJPE editors (Scarpas and Al-Qadi assumed these roles in 2004) are moving to improve balance in the journal.

They report that they are reviewing 14 papers for an early 2006 issue that will be dedicated to concrete paving topics, and they have plans for an issue that will focus on so-called perpetual pavement, a particular type of bituminous pavement structure. It can be hoped that focus issues of these types will help the journal to attract a steady stream of submissions that better reflect the interests of everyone under the pavement engineering umbrella.

The journal is well edited and the articles are generally written clearly.

With high-quality content and a strong, increasingly balanced focus on pavement engineering topics, the IJPE has begun serving a need that is not being well met by other engineering periodicals. It is a worthwhile addition to academic and personal libraries.

Mark B. Snyder is a pavement engineering consultant, registered professional engineer and secretary-treasurer of the International Society for Concrete Pavements.

International Journal of Pavement Engineering

Editor - Tom Scarpas and Imad L. Al-Qadi
Publisher - Spon Press
Price - Quarterly Institutions £284.00 Individuals £104.00
ISSN - 1029. 8436 and 1477 268X (online)

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