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Top five journals for enablers of change

As an enabler of change, keeping up with the latest research and practice is important. But we don’t always have lots of spare time for reading. There are lots of journals out there, but some seem more likely than others to deliver articles that inspire our thinking and practice. So today we’re going to go through our top five journals for enablers of change!

The first one has to be the Rural Extension and Innovation Systems Journal, which is the APEN journal. This is a free to access journal, that has a range of article types. The journal publishes Research papers, which as the name suggests, contain research into agricultural and natural resource change management, extension, development and innovation systems. 

Then there are Literature reviews which are exactly as the name suggests! And finally there are Practice papers which are a forum for practitioners and academics to share their experiences and practical innovations with others in the fields of agricultural extension, farm management and natural resource management. These are informal, accessible articles that document successes, failures and lessons from extension professionals’ experiences. I like these – they are short, easy-to-read and have some great practical tips! 

The research papers are double-blind peer reviewed, while the practice papers are reviewed by another extension professional.

The second one is the Journal of Extension, or JOE. This is an American-based journal. It’s a good one because, again, it’s free to access, and it focuses on both research and practical tips for extension. The journal has Feature articles which tend to be an in-depth read about concepts or research findings and the implications of these for extension professionals. Now because it’s an American-based journal, they do tend to focus on the implications for American extension practice but often it’s still relevant for us.

The Research in Brief section has articles that are short but research-based (as the name suggests!). Then there’s two cool sections that often have some useful ideas. These are Ideas at Work and Tools of the Trade. Ideas at work covers novel ideas, innovative programs, and new methods that may be of interest to us as enablers of change. Tools of the Trade identify and describe specific materials, books, techniques, and technologies useful to extension professionals. 

The final section is Commentary which presents opinions on issues of concern to extension. These articles are designed to initiate discussion and are accompanied by discussion forums that remain open through two issues of the journal.

All sections of the journal, apart from Commentary are double-blind peer reviewed. 

Next we have a couple of journals that are great reads but are not free to access. However, even if you can’t always get full access to all the articles it does not mean it is not worth having a quick look at the abstracts. And more and more articles are appearing as open access which is great news! In the meantime, you can always email the lead author and ask if they could send you a PDF of the article. Sometimes you will only get the final draft, generally because of copyright reasons. 

The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension: Competence for Rural Innovation and Transformation, is a European based journal but publishes research articles from all over the world. All articles are double-blind peer reviewed.

The Journal of Rural Studies is a journal that covers contemporary rural issues, processes and experiences. It is not specifically for extension but we like the rural focus of this journal. Again all articles are double-blind peer reviewed.

And to finish this list, another American based journal, The Journal of International Agricultural and Extension Education. This is published by the Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education, or AIAEE for short. It’s purpose is to enhance the research and knowledge base of agricultural and extension education from an international perspective. The good news is that it’s free to access online! The articles in this journal do tend to have an American slant, but cover a lot of interesting aid work and education research.

The journal has Feature Articles which focus on the research and evaluation of agricultural and extension education. And there are Research Notes, a concise description of proof-of-concept results or an extension of previously published research. Both are double-blind reviewed. 

For completeness, we’ll add the links to the other few journals that we’re aware of that relate to extension in the list below. 

So you’ve read about our go-tos for journals! Now we’d like to hear yours! We don’t want this just to be a one-way conversation so join in by sharing your thoughts and ideas with us. Add a comment below this blog post and let us know what journals you read and if there are others to add to our list. Where have you found some great articles to read?

Thanks folks for reading this Enablers of change blog post. Remember to tell your friends if you’ve liked what you heard, so we can get more people into the conversation about enabling change.


  1. Rural Extension and Innovation Systems Journal  
  2. Journal of Extension
  3. The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension
  4. Journal of Rural Studies  
  5. The Journal of International Agricultural and Extension Education 

Other journals of interest

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Graham Harris
Graham Harris
4 years ago

Thanks again – John and Denise. It is good practice to keep abreast of the latest research in our field. I fully endorse accessing REIS (as you would expect) and JOE. Haven’t looked at the others but will do so in future. I also find interesting papers with some extension focus from time to time in the Agricultural Systems Journal.

Jane Wightman
Jane Wightman
4 years ago

Many thanks John and Denise, I have recently been looking at journals which would be relevant for our extension team at work to refer to and its great to have some that are recommended.

Sapna Jarial
Sapna Jarial
3 years ago

Thank you for the information. Much appreciated.

Helen Ross
1 year ago

Thanks very much John and Denise, this is extremely useful. Readers may also be interested that the Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, which I edit, frequently has articles which are relevant to Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand extension, usually about what works or does not work with different groups of people on agriculture and environment issues. Recent examples are landholders and koala protection, urban people and koala protection, landholders and fish traps, landholders and wild dog control. And that’s just in the forthcoming issue so if you are quick you may see them online for free. Look here, then under… Read more »

1 year ago

Thank you very much John and Denise. A regular reader of your blogs which are always useful and brief with relevant information and enabling further access of information. Thank you and all of them were used for our extension research.

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