This issue marks the end of our 25th year of publication of Information Research, an achievement that few would have believed possible when we began. It also marks the departure of two of our Regional Editors: Charles Cole, who has kindly taken on the task of writing this issue’s Editorial, and Ola Pilerot. Charles will be replaced by Dr. Joan Bartlett of McGill University, and Ola by two of his colleagues in Borås, Dr. Anna Lundh and Dr. Björn Hammarfelt, who will share the task of European Regional Editor. I’d like to thank both Charles and Ola for their contributions to maintaining the quality standard of Information Research. Fortunately, both have agreed to serve on the Editorial Board, so their expertise will not be lost!
In this issue we also have the Proceedings of the 2020 ISIC Conference, held, virtually from Pretoria. My thanks to Professor Ina Fourie and her colleagues for all the work in converting the papers to html and for final copy-editing. And a piece of late news: Charles Cole, Björn Hammarfelt, and Tom Wilson appear in the list of most cited academics published recently by Elsevier. I guess we are all rather sceptical about such rankings, but it's interesting to see three members of our Editorial team featuring.

Parting Editorial

After ten years of handling the North American editor desk for Information Research, I am leaving my post January 1st. I will stay on as an Editorial Board member, available to review any information behaviour, information seeking and information need articles the Journal’s regional editors care to send me. Thank you Tom Wilson, the founder and Editor-in-chief of Information Research from 1995 to the present. No one has thought about more, and contributed more to the development of the concepts, models and theories that underlie the field of information research. On a personal level, every one of my communications with Tom has been perfect. Thank goodness we are both ‘fast’ repliers to e-mails we receive, so we get along famously.

I have a few parting points. Three of them to be exact. And then a final ‘edifying’ thought about a good article.

First, the submissions. In the ten years, a total of 189 submissions crossed my North American region desk. I accepted for publication 99 of them, for an acceptance rate of 52.4%. Please note that the acceptance figure may well conflict with the total figure calculations for the Journal as a whole, all six regions of the world combined. Each of the Journal’s six regional editors has their own policy. My policy for North American submissions was to work with authors to get as many published as possible, insisting without mercy they incorporate reviewers’ comments in their revision, and for the dreaded ‘resubmit for re-review’ decision, religiously going back to the original reviewer to OK the author’s revised version of the article.

This leads to my second point, the importance of the reviewers. A peer-reviewed journal such as Information Research could not survive without a top-notch reviewer list. I know from my own reviewing over the years what a work-intensive task reviewing is, but it is one of the most valuable things researchers do over the course of their career. As well as ensuring research standards, reviewers are giving back to the field, forcing authors to think more deeply about the issues dealt with in the article, and to really commit to advancing knowledge. I would like to make particular note of the most wonderful reviewer, Dr. Christine Urquhart of Aberystwyth University (UK). Over the years, her detailed, smart, tough reviews have been invaluable, especially for the ‘resubmit for re-reviewing’ decision: she was always available to review the article again to see if the author’s revisions made the grade. There are many other wonderful reviewers I have relied upon. Thank you all reviewers!

My third point is the importance of the Journal’s editorial associates and copy-editors for their quality control over the style and readability of the articles accepted for publication. Over the ten years the names have changed, so rather than name individuals, I will simply say, "Thank you, all". These highly qualified individuals’ meticulous work allowed me to concentrate on broad-stroke, meta-level editing.

This brings me to my final ‘edifying’ thought about something an editor thinks a lot about: what is a good article?

A good article starts with the researcher-author’s ‘need’ to find out something new when planning the study, and the author’s desire to communicate these new findings in the article. In other words, the article is more than a reporting-descriptive vehicle; it is a vehicle to communicate the study’s contribution to knowledge. Let me summarise this important point: a good article is written with an obsessional focus on finding out and effectively communicating to the reader the study’s contribution to knowledge. This is harder than it seems; but it’s what separates a mediocre article from a good one. I’ll divide accomplishing this hard task into two components.

The first component is the author thinking hard about the collected data in the study’s findings because the author must determine what the collected data in the study’s findings mean. The author determines what the study’s findings mean by inserting the findings inside what the author and the research field already knows. Fortunately, information science provides to the researcher-author the concepts, models and theories that constitute the field’s knowledge base.

The second component of a good article is the author communicating the meaning of the study findings. The communicated meaning is what constitutes the article’s contribution to knowledge. Fortunately, this second component is already half done in the first component when the author establishes the meaning of the study’s data. How so? The key here is that the author’s knowledge base is a shared knowledge base, shared with all the other researcher’s in the research field of the study. The shared knowledge base is the framework of the reader for receiving the author’s new communication. A good article keeps this constantly in mind, the two components of determining meaning, first for the researcher-author and then for the researcher-reader of the article.

Establishing mutual meaning, via the concept of the article's 'contribution to knowledge'. A good article is obsessed with this single purpose. Let’s distill this mutual meaning concept into two questions a good article answers:

• What is this article about in terms of what is already known?
• What is the article’s importance to the reader-researcher in the field in terms of what this reader already knows?

The authors who deal with these questions, always keeping them in mind in the writing, are focusing on the primary characteristic separating mediocre articles from excellent articles—that is, establishing and effectively communicating the article’s contribution to knowledge, making obvious its potential to get cited by those who read it.

I hope this difference in meaning between the authors of a mediocre article and the editors and reviewers who form the gateway to its publication, and how it can be bridged, is illuminating for authors of future submissions to Information Research. And I wish Joan Bartlett, my successor well in the important endeavour of helping these authors bridge this difference, leading to many more contributions to knowledge in the pages of Information Research!

Dr. Charles Cole
Regional Editor, North America
November, 2020