The life of Extension materials

One of the core values of Extension is providing relevant, research-based information.  Whether that is in the form of educational presentations, phone conversations, web or social media materials, or written publications.  Recently, the Extension Project Leaders started a process to develop a sunset date for all of their Extension fact sheets, newsletters, and publications that are posted on the VCE web site.  The VCE website contains over 3,000 separately posted items and over 1,200 have not been reviewed since the last web site update (2009).  After reviewing and soliciting other state policies, most are using a 5-year time frame.  VCE has adopted this time frame as well.

The revision process can take place at any time and if the information has changed, new information/research is available, or new recommendations are warrantied, the materials should be updated.  This has always been the author’s responsibility.  The sunset date provides an effective way to keep authors accountable so that periodic review and reassignment of authors (if retirement or movement of an author) occurs.  This will assure that VCE publications are timely and the information has a specialist/contact who can provide follow-up if additional information or clarification is needed.

While we desire the most relevant information, some publications will be pulled from the VCE website and we have been diligent to archive these publications with the Library of Virginia – http://www.lva.virginia.gov/agencies/StateDocs/

Please let us know your thoughts on the life of Extension materials.

Bobby Grisso

 

7 thoughts on “The life of Extension materials

  1. Cathryn Kloetzli

    As is mentioned in the post, keeping author information current/updated/reassigned will be really helpful. I have often read a publication in trying to help someone – had a question – and then had to go digging to find out who to ask since the author listed was not still with VCE.

    I very much appreciate all the effort the authors have put into the publications – and look forward to having them all be updated to remain as effective as they can be. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Bobby Grisso

      When authors are not activate or you can’t get an expert to follow-up, please inform the appropriate Associate Director. We want agents to have adequate and timely responses to questions.

      Reply
  2. David Holshouser

    I more or less agree to sun-setting pubs that are not immediately relevant today. Still, I’m very concerned about losing valuable information, especially when research was published. There was just a recent article in CSA News, “Making the Case for Evidence-based Agriculture”, (https://www.crops.org/publications/csa/articles/59/5/4) on the amount of research that has been lost, and is now hard to find. This is a hot topic on agricultural research and extension now.
    I (mainly my graduate student) am experiencing hard-to-find data now. We have Extension recommendations, but it is sometimes hard to trace down where those recommendations came from. Was it published? Maybe not. Or was it published as an Extension article that is now sunset? And the author is either retired or dead; the data may have been thrown out when the author’s office was cleaned out. In our situation, we assume that the recommendations came from data collected 40-50 years ago. Regardless, the information has disappeared. More importantly, are our recommendations right? Can we prove it?
    I just suggested that the student contact a colleague because I think that he helped conduct (as a grad student) some of the original research. But, I think he has retired, or is getting close to it. I hope he still has some data.
    The point is that Extension publications have value, regardless of age. So, I’m glad the older pubs are being archived. Will these archived easily be accessed via various search platforms? That will be important.

    Reply
  3. Bobby Grisso

    All data has value and it is even more valuable if it can be found when needed. So data and conclusions needs to be properly documented and presented or have enough references to clearly articulate the findings. I think David has some valid points but using the VCE Web site as the deposit location is not a valid option. That’s why we are archiving on the Library of Virginia. We recognize the value of these documents for both an historical context and future reference but we have to weight out the listing of 15-20 years of test reports when someone is looking for a commodity information. Will the public wade through these listings?

    I would encourage every one to become comfortable in searching the Library of Virginia – http://www.lva.virginia.gov/agencies/StateDocs/ and seeing how this can be used for our data and research findings. I would agree that we need to provide more information on the VCE website to remind the public of these resources and we do so.

    Last point, the VCE public web site is not the only website that this information can be gathered and presented – each AREC has a web presence and data and even preliminary data/reports could be posted with the appropriate indication. As the VCE website moves to topic pages for our programs, this could be a major focus of program specialists is providing a seamless thread of information in these pages. Which could included – How did we get here? I am in agreement that a systemic approach as encouraged in the CSA’s News article is needed. But the emphasis needs to be on data access and appropriate analysis.

    Reply
  4. Karen Poff

    Hi, Bobby – I went to the site to see if I could find some of our old publications and when I tried to search the system for “money management,” I got over 4,400 publication hits. Some of our publications were there, but it would be difficult to wade through so many. Is there a way to get to VCE’s publications through a menu rather than a search feature? The menu feature only shows VCE’s current publications, not the archived ones. (I’m not looking for anything specific at the moment, just trying to understand how the system works for future reference.) It is useful to have them archived and available because sometimes a publication is “sunsetted,” but the information is still correct and there is nothing more current to replace it. If the publications are available in archives, Agents would still have access when necessary.

    Reply
  5. Bobby Grisso

    Karen – I am not sure I am understanding your point. Even when I search our current VCE site (pubs.ext.vt.edu), I get 339 hits on “money management.” I understand that when we archive items that the publication goes in a large vault of VCE and other information and special searches will be necessary. When something is removed from the VCE system, remember that purposed action has occurred – the authors and departmental project leaders were notified that the item is coming up for review and a specific time is established to discontinue its access within the public VCE access. Those responsible for content (keeping publications – relevant, research-based) can allow it to be removed or reviewed/revised as necessary. My view has been that we want to keep our public site “up to date” and easy to search through general topics. Archiving gives us a stop gap to retrieve items that have been removed and may be useful. But it should alert users that more timely information may be available and no recent review of the content has occurred. As an agent, I would encourage you to contact those responsible for the content and voice your concerns if item are being removed from public access.

    Reply

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