A Progress Report
This issue marks the end of the second year of our editorship, which began in March of 1999. We wish to summarize some changes in the Journal and to thank several groups of people for their help. We will summarize changes in relation to several goals of the Editors: to publish high-quality articles, provide timely review and publication, and publish articles that are of interest to our readers. We will then describe the effects on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology (ATVB) of the electronic revolution in medical publishing.
Publication of High-Quality Articles
Selection of manuscripts for publication depends in part on scientific validity of findings, as perceived by reviewers, the Editorial Board, and the Editors. Also of great importance is our perception of the likely impact of articles: will the study influence the area of research?
Evaluation of quality of articles in a Journal is exceedingly difficult. One approach is calculation of “impact factor.” The latest available data (for 1999) indicate that the impact of the articles in ATVB increased almost 40% during 1999 (Figure 1⇓). Compared with some other journals that publish articles related to atherosclerosis and lipoproteins, vascular biology, and thrombosis (Figure 1⇓), the Journal is doing very well. Some other journals in this area of research, however, have a higher impact factor (Figure 2⇓), and ATVB has not yet achieved that level. Nevertheless, the recent 40% increase in impact factor is remarkable.
Timely Review and Publication
One goal of the Journal is to provide rapid, as well as expert, review of manuscripts. The average time from receipt of new manuscripts to first decision has decreased substantially at ATVB (Figure 3⇓). For rapid publications, review time is even shorter. We are especially indebted to our “All Stars”: Drs Paul DiCorleto, Daniel Rader, Godfrey Getz, Neil Weintraub, Judith Berliner, and Burton Sobel. These 6 members of the Editorial Board have expeditiously reviewed the largest number of manuscripts during our editorship.
A second goal of the Editors is to publish articles as soon as possible after they are accepted. Because the number of pages that we can publish is limited, an unwelcome consequence of acceptance of articles beyond our page budget is that a backlog of manuscripts accumulates, and after manuscripts are accepted, publication is delayed. To avoid accumulation of a backlog of manuscripts, we made our most challenging policy decision: to reduce the number of manuscripts accepted for publication. Currently, the Journal is accepting only 20% to 25% of manuscripts that are submitted.
We have succeeded in avoiding a backlog of accepted manuscripts, and the time from acceptance of manuscripts to publication has been shortened substantially. For 1999, manuscripts were published 22 weeks after acceptance. In 2000, time from acceptance to publication was 12 weeks. Currently, when a manuscript is accepted immediately before the deadline for an issue, the interval to publication is 8 weeks, which is the time for copyediting, proofing, and printing of the article. When a manuscript is accepted immediately after the deadline, the interval is 12 weeks. “Hot” manuscripts can be published more quickly.
To live within our page budget and avoid reducing our acceptance rate even further, we require that authors follow the instructions that are provided for them and limit the length of the text and number of figures and tables. Thus, articles in ATVB are shorter (Figure 4⇓). Authors can publish additional text, figures, and tables as an electronic supplement, so important methods and data are not lost. The number of manuscripts submitted continues to increase (Figure 5⇓). Our hope is that as authors recognize the high quality of the Journal, they will continue to submit their outstanding work to ATVB.
Targeting our Constituencies
One of our goals is to publish a Journal that a large number of readers will consider to be “must reading.” We believe that when an author publishes an article in ATVB related to atherosclerosis or lipoproteins, the author can be confident that it will come to the attention of the leading investigators in that area of research. Articles in this area of research may be overlooked when they are published in other journals with somewhat higher impact factors but that publish only an occasional article related to atherosclerosis and lipoproteins. Because of the enormous importance of atherosclerosis and the central role of lipoproteins, we believe that ATVB plays a unique role in cardiovascular research. The Journal is (arguably) the key forum for studies in this area. We plan to continue to highlight this critical area of research.
We believe that the Journal also has a great opportunity in the area of vascular biology. Our feeling is that other first-line journals do not focus sufficiently on “classic” vascular biology. Because vascular biology is absolutely critical in understanding the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis, we are striving to make ATVB the leading forum for exchange of information in vascular biology. We believe that articles published in ATVB that are related to vascular biology come to the attention of a broad audience of leading experts. We have been gratified by feedback from authors who indicate that articles in vascular biology that have been published in ATVB have received a great deal of attention. We strongly encourage submission of manuscripts related to vascular biology.
Some of the Journal’s most important articles relate to thrombosis. However, we do not yet receive enough manuscripts in this important area of research. Studies of the interaction between blood and the vessel wall are timely and important and appear to be receiving greater emphasis by funding agencies. These studies are a traditional area of interest by ATVB. In addition, we wish to strongly encourage studies related to basic mechanisms of coagulation and fibrinolysis.
Our Iowa City office relies heavily on Drs Charlie Sing and Lewis Kuller, and our European office relies on Prof Ulf de Faire in review of population studies. We will continue to encourage submission of these types of manuscripts as well.
Electronic Revolution in Publishing
Like many other scientific journals, the entire publication process for ATVB can now be accomplished electronically, from submission of manuscripts through editorial review to publication online. Options are described at our website (http://www.atvb.ahajournals.org). The Journal began to receive manuscripts electronically (via e-mail) in July 2000, and ≈50% of our submissions are electronic. About 95% of reviews now are electronic. All of our articles are published electronically, and most are also published in print version.
Authors can now go to our website (http://www.atvb. ahajournals.org) and follow the directions for online submission. We ask all authors to fill out this information electronically, even with submission of print copy. This allows authors to approve the quality of both the content and figures of the manuscript to be sent out for review.
Our goal in electronic publishing is to keep pace with the most important changes. Nevertheless, we believe that it is important not to make changes before our authors and readers are ready. Considering the explosive change in electronic publishing, however, the latter concern seems relatively minor.
Publication of Abstracts
The spring meeting of the ATVB Council is emerging as an outstanding scientific meeting. Thus, this year, ATVB will publish the program and abstracts that are accepted for presentation at the meeting. This is an experiment, and future publication of the program and abstracts of future meetings will be considered later. We will appreciate your feedback about the usefulness of publication of the program and abstracts.
In general, the Journal has progressed well during the first 2 years of our editorship. Submitted manuscripts and impact factor have increased substantially, and the times to first decision and to publication have decreased substantially. The electronic revolution has been accomplished without disruption. Prof Goran Hansson made the move of the European office to Stockholm painless. The Editors wish to thank the Editorial Board, reviewers, authors, and readers who make our job a pleasure as well as a challenge. We sincerely ask for your advice and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.