Tag Archives: Life Cycle Assessment

Which Journals are best? Who do I cite? Who cites me?

I’ve been pondering the question, as part of my training and academic reputation development plan: If I was to concentrate my building into a subset of journals what might they be? I decided to think about what journals I cite from and what journals I am cited in. To do this I used the bibliometrics from the Web of Science database to analyse my papers. I then used the allied Journal Citations Reports database to explore more about these Journals and their subject categories. I’ve looked in detail at all those journals where there are two or more (about 1/3-1/2 of the total)

Who do I cite?

I’ve charted the results by number of papers that I’ve cited. It is worth noting that over half of the references that I use in any one paper refer to non peer-reviewed sources of data, such as farm management costings books and statistics.

Who I cite
The journals and number of papers that I have cited from. A few journals dominate with quite a long tail. Amongst the titles there are words like systems, , , environment, & ecology.

What strikes me is that I have done two things: 1) drawn in a wide range of underpinning literature on the science of agriculture and the environment, 2) drawn in a lot of scientific literature that has to do with Operational Research and or agricultural/ environmental systems. This is a clue as to how I maybe working as a scientist.

Who cites me?

I’ve repeated the analysis and considered which journals are the source of citations to me.

The journal that are the source of citation to me
The journals and the numbers of papers citing me showing a few dominant journals, a long tail and the words management, systems, engineering, technology, and production  featuring amongst titles

Again there is a subset of dominant journals citing my work. Two of them; Agricultural Systems and Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment; are dominant in both. A noticeable change from the journals that I cite is the absence of Operational Research and the addition of engineering, production and technology amongst titles. This is again another clue about how I seem to be doing ‘science’.

Science consumer to science producer

To get a clear idea about how I map the science I consume into science consumed by others I decided to group all the Journal titles into their subject categories. Where a Journal was categorised over more than one category I split the paper counts equally.  I then compared the two after normalising to 100% to bring both counts onto the same scale . Colour coding and shading helped pick out broad groups. This is all shown in this column chart.

From Consumer to consumed from
Comparing the science I consume with where my science gets consumed showing a clear difference in subject categories with less Operational Research and more engineering, technology and multi-disciplinarity.

The shift in subject categories is quite strong. I am very much an applied Mathematician and Operational Researcher as I consume its science, but don’t produce the science consumed by it. Overall I consume science from all three of my degrees: Agriculture, Applied Environmental Science, and Operational Research (see below). I combine that within a systems modelling framework and produce insights into agricultural and environmental systems that are of benefit to managers, engineers, technologists, applied [multidisciplinary] scientists, and fellow systems modellers and analysts.

My three educational degrees
My educational background showing my three degree of Agriculture, Applied Environmental Science, and Operational Research

This does seem a rational picture in hindsight, but much more telling given this hard data. It does lend support to the idea that the group that I have been part of provided a key service to Agricultural Engineering.  I joined the group at the former Silsoe Research Institute (SRI); a Public Sector Research Organisation specialising in agricultural engineering and its offshoots.


I’ve a much clearer idea of how I work as a scientist and where I make my contribution: The impact and identification of better, newer, or greener on the decisions that shape agricultural and environmental systems.

The shortlist of journals that I should focus on are the ones that I am cited from and that I cite from. This set includes Agricultural Systems, Biosystems Engineers (formerly Journal of Agricultural Engineering Research),  and Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment.

A tilt towards where my science is consumed makes sense so International Journal of , Journal of Cleaner Production, Journal of Environmental Management are strong candidates.

I need to consider Journal remits and bibliometric impact factors to really establish a core set.

What could be a fun addition is to consider the subject mappings that includes in a middle column where I’ve published.


Physical assessment of the environmental impacts of centralised anaerobic digestion – CC0240

CAD has already been adopted in other parts of Europe and new sites are planned in the UK. Until now, the claimed environmental benefits of CAD could be based only on extrapolation of results from other countries, and are therefore uncertain for UK conditions. Hence, when the first UK CAD site comes into operation in 2002, it will provide an ideal opportunity for this project to complete a of the process, based on physical measurements of actual emissions, so enabling performance and cost comparisons to be made with other manure management strategies.


This project will help to meet DEFRA’s policy needs in connection with international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol and the EU Burden Sharing Agreement. Specifically, it will provide research evidence to determine the true potential of CAD as a cost-effective control option. This will be relevant to meeting the requirements of the Working Group within the European Climate Change Programme. The project will also begin to establish â??bench marksâ? for good practice, so helping with assessments of the possible impacts of other CAD plants that may be proposed in the future.


01 To establish a detailed working plan in conjunction with the owners, constructors and operators of the CAD plant to be monitored. This will also include formulation of an outline LCA and the definition of the key process and environmental measurements needed.


03 To undertake a period of at least 18 months of plant monitoring, comprising three campaigns, each of at least six months duration. This will include sufficient time for any start-up difficulties to be resolved, and will thus establish a clear picture of true plant performance. The monitoring will also include emissions from the peripheral activities such as collection, transport, storage and land spreading. These will be undertaken on a periodic basis according to process schedules.


Stored slurries on UK farms emit substantial amounts of methane. Previous MAFF funded research (e.g. CC 0222), has shown that farm-scale anaerobic digestion (AD) can reduce in these emissions as well as generating useful amounts of heat and electrical energy and assisting in the safe recycling of wastes (in the interests of sustainable waste management). However, despite these benefits, AD is not widely used in UK agriculture. Capital costs and substantial management requirements are obvious dis-incentives to its adoption, although both of these charges can be reduced substantially per unit volume of slurry treated by using much larger, centralised AD (CAD) plants. For instance, co-processing with other wastes can generate revenues from gate fees.




Peer reviewed papers

Citation Alert: The pyrolysis and gasification of digestate from agricultural biogas plant

Google told me about this new citation to my work. It is a short Polish paper that refers to work I did using environmental () on the manures and slurries produced by pig and dairy farm and various technologies for handling, storing and using them.

This new work builds on from results where  I show that following anaerobic digestion (AD) the resulting is far more potent as a , but is also far more likely to lose ammonia by volatilisation if not managed better. The added potency is due to the digestion fermentation step breaking down complex organic structures and releasing nutrients into the liquor whilst releasing the carbon (drymatter) as methane gas.

The high moisture content of digestate is also a transport burden. One way the my Polish friends look at to manage it better is to dry the digestate 10% moisture content and subject it to pyrolysis and gasification. This has the advantage of getting more and producing biochar or ash as a readily transport fertiliser.

What I really like about this work was that they are looking at an important questions and that they are publishing hard analytical data on digestate and its performance in these processes.

To elaborate on the importance of the question. Improvements on environmental performance in systems such as is akin to chasing bubbles in a carpet. As soon as you introduce one technology, such as an you soon or alter have to think out how you are going to mange the digestate with its increased potency, These still in not one right idea about that and an open question on at least one project I am currently involved with. Intervening into agricultural systems (or any system) has to be done systematically at multiple points to avoid environmental burdens moving to another part of the system or one burden swapping for another.  The environmental Life Cycle Assessment method is tool to use in these cases

Life Cycle Assessment

If you want a tip about win wins with an intervention into a complex system then think along the lines of productive efficiency where you are trying to either  a) obtain the same from fewer inputs, or b) obtain more from the same inputs.

Whilst I am glad this paper is published there is an opportunity to set it within the context of systems thinking and LCA. A couple of things make me think so:

  • The author’s mention that the proliferation of large scale plants in areas where there are restricted opportunities to apply digestate leads to active consideration of drying digestate to ease the transport burdens of shipping it.  I suspect that recycling disposal problem already existed in those area as ADs don’t create mass that was not already there. The problem maybe that now that it is being processed in an AD it is officially visible as a ‘waste’ and of course more potent.
  • An important gap in the life cycle thinking is the drying step of the digestate. In this case a thermal step is used, but not detailed. The question is what happens to the ammoniacal nitrogen during thermal drying? They authour’s correctly identify the risk of losing 70 or so percent of the nitrogen following land spreading, but don’t say what happens under thermal drying.
  • If one was to further apply life cycle thinking we would be thinking of the net energy balance with the thermal drying and pyrolysis and gasification steps. We would also want to be sure flue gases and evaporative gases didn’t carry additional environmental burdens. Finally, we would want to know the agricultural fertility value of biochar (carbonizate) or ash especially if there are heavy metals or persistent organic contaminants.

Overall I enjoyed giving this paper a good read. It tackles an important areas, but I suspect we are still chasing bubbles in the carpet.

It went down very well aided by a bottle of real ale from a recently discovered micro brewery called Hornes located about 10 miles from where I sit. 

Hornes Real Ale, From Bow Brick-hill, Milton Keynes

An engineering approach for sustainable systems

This paper summed up much of the thinking and research that I had been involved with for around a decade as a research scientist at the former Silsoe Research Institute at Bedfordshire. (Wrest Park is a fabulous Stately home and was a gorgeous setting for UKs public sector agricultural engineering institute)

In many ways I remain an heir to that legacy with the remaining team members at Cranfield University. My work lies under Systems Modelling for Decisions -mostly under 1 and 2, but dipping into the rest

Key headings from the paper

Systems Modelling for Decisions:

  1. Systems modelling for environmental
  2. Whole farm decisions and land use planning -the implications of farmers’ management decisions for environmental impacts
  3. Decision support for complex uncertain systems – stochastic dynamic programming and weed control strategies
  4. Linking process and systems models to support on-farm decision making – an example for fungicide does optimization

Control Engineering approaches to biological systems:

  1. Incorporating models in the control loop
  2. Control of multiple outputs -target growth but with limited emissions
  3. Advanced sensing techniques – a route to more complex control opportunities
    1. machine vision
    2. biological sensors
  4. Real-time machine control

The Plan

The   Development Plan (work in progress)

Reputation is social mental construct that lives a very real existence entirely outside of you. It is the other person’s perception of another person’s perception of you. Essentially, it is social proof of trust in you. It can be influenced, it can be destroyed, but it can’t be explicitly created. It is slow to grow and readily damaged.

Reputation can inspire those around and motivate you to reach great fulfillment of self. Reputation precedes you and can make people far away defend your name as well as being a great marketing asset.

1a) What area of research do you want to be recognized for?

I want to be best known for research into the impact of better, novelty, innovation, and change on farmers’ decisions and systems

Analysis of the peer-reviewed citations I give and I get supports this

and b) which specific aspects of that area are key to defining your contribution?

I model for a living. My two main contributions are:

  • 1) the development of predictive (or prescriptive) decision modelling of systems using optimizing techniques such as , and
  • 2) to fully grasp the environmental burdens of decisions I develop agricultural system model-based Life-Cycle Assessments (LCA). These are quantitative hard-systems engineering approaches.

2) Do you want to be known as a specialist or a generalist?

Operational researchers are interdisciplinary generalists. I am a relative specialist with my core competence at the interface of , decisions, and the environment. I can be flexible and already extend towards modelling connections out to waste water treatment and renewable energy systems

3) Which academics around the world do you admire and why?

In no real order I admire the following academics

Laura McLayLaura McLay (Punk Rock Operations Research Blog) I admire because I enjoy her accessible and witty insights into OR theory, practice and profession and I am impressed with her social media presence and strategy. Laura McLay is Professor of , ISyE dept at of Wisconsin-Madison
Ian FrommerIan Frommer (@or4green) came to my attention several years ago as a prolific blogger and tweeter of Operational research for Green. Ian Frommer is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy* in New London, CT with interests in energy and the environment. I admire Ian for bringing the area of and the Environment to greater prominence on social media
Professor Stafford BeerI first came to read Stafford Beer‘s works in the 1990s and gained many of my formative influences as an Operational Researcher. I liked that he was a good communicator, a conceptual thinker on management cybernetics, and a of bit left field character
Eric AudsleyEric Audsley I admire for his thought leadership in my field in the UK and Europe, for his stewardship of the same and for the numerous models and programs of his that I use. He has been my line manager and or project manager since October1996 at the former Silsoe Research institute
Andres WeintraubCarlos RomeroAndres Weintraub (left) a Professor in the department of industrial engineering in the University of Chile and Carlos Romero (right) a professor of economics at the Technical University of Madrid I first met at The Euro Summer School on Operational Research in Agriculture and management in 2009 in Lleida and Solsona, Spain. I admire both for their career long prestige and international stewardship of my field, best embodied as two of the four editors of The Handbook of Operations Research in Natural Resources 
Lluis PlaLluis Miguel Pla is a personal friend and coordinator of the Euro Working group on Operational Research in Agriculture and Forestry Management. I admire him for his stoical long standing stewardship of my field in Europe. He is an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Lleida, Spain
Richard DawkinsI admire Richard Dawkins fierce integrity in challenging society’s preciously held eternal truths and his broad spectrum skills at communication of science via many different media
Lluis PlaChristopher Ryan, PhD really impressed me by having an idea that changes the way we can see the world. I was impressed that he wrote it up as a New York Times bestseller and presented it a TED conference. His academic and communication skills are impressive and as is his fearlessness in confronting taboos, norms and beliefs with science.
Brian Camm, David Morris, and Bill Dilke from Seale Hayne College and Paul Webster and Nigel Williams from Wye College all helped inspire and teach me quantitative approaches to farm planning and control. A big shout out goes to Professor Jim France and Dr Les Compton for their stewardship of Agricultural Research Modellers Group

What are my take outs for top role model traits: Thought & opinion leadership, stewardship, communication skills, advocacy, perseverance, honesty, integrity, & trustworthiness.

What doesn’t take prominence: I know nothing of their private wealth nor if they wield political power. I am more aware of their intellectual achievements, but I can’t often say that they are directly useful to me. The later point is a bit like Antarctica…it feels good to know it exists, but I’ve never been there.

What matters here is that reputation is a natural outgrowth of one’s self and one that is easily damaged if you are caught faking it. Trust is fragile and social proof of trust can turn against you.

4) What key activities do you want to do that define who you want to be?

  • a) Research: Applied agricultural systems decision modelling
  • b) Communication: Written, oral and digital channels to peers, clients, industry & public
  • c) Leadership: Contribute ideas and coordinate networks
  • d (a) Educator & Trainer
  • d (b) Life long learner

5) What is your publication strategy?

Journal Reason? Number of papers to date? Number of papers you want?
1? Journal of the Operational Research Society 0.91 2013/2014 journal impact factor – Kudos and contribution to my profession 1  7.5%
2? European Journal of Operational Research 1.8 Kudos and contribution to my profession  17.5%
3? Biosystems Engineering 1.4 Kudos and contribution to my profession  1  25%
4? Agricultural Systems  2.5 Kudos and contribution to my profession  1 planned  10%
5? International Journal of  3.1 Contribution to profession/ area of application  1  15%
6? Journal of Environmental Management  3.2 Contribution to area of application  10%
7? Journal of Cleaner Production  3.6 Contribution to area of application  7.5%
8? Climatic Change  4.6 Contribution to area of application  1  7.5%

Other contenders Environmental Science and Policy (3.5), Bioresource Technology (5.0 -1 paper), Journal of Applied Ecology (4.8 -1 paper)

See also an analysis of the journals I cite and get cited by

6) Which key conferences best reflect your professional development?

  • a? Agricultural stream of the EURO conference
  • b? LCA Food conferences
  • c? MACSUR climate change and food security conferences and workshops

6b) What is you (academic) networking strategy?

7) What strategic grants will you bid in the next 5 years to help define who you want to be?

  • a Defra
  • b EU
  • c Technology Strategy Board

8) What items of esteem/ activity do you value?

9) What items of esteem/ activity do you NOT value?

None of these are bad per se, but one needs to carefully balance costs with benefits.

  • Excessive membership of Professional societies
  • Excessive refereeing of papers and grant proposals
  • Onerous conference/ session organization

10) What is your dissemination strategy?

The outcomes of my work tend to best inform the thinking of scientists, engineers, the policy community, and the more progressive innovative section of the farming community.  The dissemination ‘ecosystem’ is in a state of flux with the advent of open access journals and digital & social media bringing everything to within a Google mouse click. The trend maybe away from print to digital, but face to face is important. Being out there is good, being found above the white noise is better.

a) Peer-review papers

Increasingly there are opportunities to create multiple media hooks to help increase the impact of research. These can be in the form of graphical and  video abstracts. A bellwether example might be the journal of Environmental Research Letters

b) Trade Press

The are a few learned targeted at farmers

c) Social Media
I use Academia.edu and ResearchGate.net to make preprints available. I have a blog to post a more narrative discussion. I use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn to promote links back to my work. I do have a ResearcherID, Google Scholar, and an OrcidID to further increase exposure. For supplementary material I can use slideshare, Youtube, & Prezi.com.

My Social Media Klout score is in the 45-55 range

d) Influential opinion formers?

Bonus Question) Is your plan appropriately aligned with the University’s 415i plan?

Career evolution
Career evolution

Scholar profiles

Follow me on Academia.edu
Follow Me on ResearchGate
See Me on
ResearcherID: B-1686-2008


I am a working at Cranfield (United Kingdom). I research change (newer, greener, different or better) on ‘s decisions and and environmental systems.

The Winnower…I’ve not used it yet, but have registered a profile out of curiosity.

Operational (Operations) Research, , Environment, Systems Thinking, Decision Modelling, , (LCA), Novelty, Innovation, Policy impact, Climate change, Land-use change, Sustainability

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