In recent years, we have developed a backlog. In response to that situation, we have tried a few remedies. We began once again to get strict regarding the length of papers, asking authors to return revised papers no longer than 7 pages. When reviewers felt that a paper was borderline, and would only be acceptable after major revision, we encouraged the reviewer to go ahead and reject the paper. We have had slightly larger issues in 2004, but there is a limit to how many more pages can be dealt with each month at our current Journal staffing levels.
An informal survey of the situation at some other technical journals gave us some idea of how they are handling backlog situations. Some of their solutions have included tightening acceptance criteria for content and even removing papers from the system that were deemed no longer acceptable under the new criteria.
We considered those solutions, but we felt that the Journal should remain a publication where a broad range of subject matter can be reported and it would be unfair to reject papers that were judged acceptable earlier.
Therefore, our current solution to the backlog problem is this "bonus" issue. In a normal year, there are 10 issues of the Forest Products Journal, including two combined issues: July/August and November/December. This year, you received a November issue, plus you are now receiving this additional December issue, so there have been 11 issues published in 2004. This bonus issue contains 50 technical papers. There is no feature article, no departments, no classified advertising. It is a concentration of technical information. The papers in this issue were edited and typeset by Susan Stamm, who is the Special Publications Director for the Society.
This bonus issue is probably just a temporary solution to the backlog dilemma. We may have to implement other policies in the future if we continue to experience a backlog, but this issue should take some pressure off the system. We welcome any feedback.