We thank you for supporting Hypertension and request your help and patience as we implement changes to extend the Journal’s excellence. Our main objectives for Hypertension have been previously reviewed1 and are, simply stated, to ensure the publication of the highest quality original basic, clinical, and population research relating to hypertension, to enhance the Journal’s readership and scientific impact, and to provide efficient and fair manuscript reviews and rapid publication. I would like to give you a brief update on some new initiatives that are aimed at achieving our goals, although it is still too early to provide data on “readership and scientific impact.” Therefore, I have focused mainly on our progress toward improving the efficiency of the review and publication process.
Online Submission and Reviews
Electronic submission and reviews can potentially provide an important mechanism for increasing the efficiency of the review process. Although we still review hard-copy manuscript submissions, the numbers of manuscripts submitted online is gradually increasing (currently about 60%), and virtually all reviews are submitted online. The online submission process has many advantages for authors and reviewers and also should speed up the review process when fully implemented.
We have had some challenges with the current online submission system, which has stirred the ire of a few reviewers and authors. For those of you who have experienced difficulties with online submissions and/or reviews, please accept our apologies. Unfortunately, the system that we received just a few days before assuming the editorship has considerable room for improvement (one of our reviewers called it a “clunker”). The good news is that an improved version of the software should be available very soon and will be used for all American Heart Association journals. We are working to improve the system and appreciate your patience. In the meantime, please contact us if you experience any difficulties, and we will work together to get past the initial glitches that are almost inevitable when a new system is implemented.
Decreased Time for First Decision.
Ed Frohlich’s team of editors did an excellent job of reducing the time from submission to first decision to about 4.3 weeks, and we have shortened this time even further to about 3.5 weeks. Our goal is be able to assign, review, and make a first decision on manuscripts in less than 3 weeks. We are working to make our office operations as efficient as possible, but achieving this goal also depends to a large extent on the cooperation and diligence of the reviewers. We greatly appreciate the efforts of our editorial board and reviewers and ask that you continue to work with us to make the review and publication processes as efficient and fair as possible.
Equally important as a rapid review is the time from acceptance to publication of the manuscript. One of our goals was to reduce this time from the previous 24 to 28 weeks to 8 weeks or less for print publication and to less than 10 days for online publication after acceptance of the manuscript and correction of page proofs. As shown in the Figure, we have made considerable progress toward this goal. Currently, the time from acceptance of a manuscript until it appears in print is 8.7 weeks, and some expedited manuscripts can be published in 4 to 5 weeks.
In June this year, we began publishing articles online before they appeared in the print Journal. This initiative, called Hypertension—Online First, provides subscribers with almost immediate access to accepted manuscripts, which are posted weekly and appear online 7 to 10 working days after correction of page proofs. We publish only the copyedited manuscripts online, rather than the unedited version as is done in some journals, to ensure quality control of online manuscripts. The online version will therefore have the same appearance as the print version of the paper. Individual and institutional subscribers can access Hypertension—Online First by logging on to http://hyper.ahajournals.org./
During the latter part of 2001, the acceptance rate for Hypertension decreased to as low as 10%. As pointed out by Ed Frohlich in previous progress reports, this was due, in part, to the page limitations of the Journal and the increasing number of submissions. The low acceptance rate was also due to the backlog of accepted papers that had accumulated and had to be published within a reasonable period of time. This low acceptance rate very likely discouraged some potential authors, and the rate of submissions decreased in the latter part of 2001 and the first part of 2002. Fortunately, we have been able to completely eliminate this backlog and the acceptance rate for Hypertension is now about 25%. Therefore, we encourage you to submit your original research to Hypertension, as well as your suggestions for reviews and special features that may be of interest to readers of the Journal.
Increased Readership and Scientific “Impact”
Hypertension currently has the highest Journal Citation Reports (JCR) scientific impact factor (5.3) of all journals in the hypertension field. The “impact factor,” often used (sometimes erroneously) to judge the quality of a journal, is simply the number of yearly citations to original articles published during the previous 2 years divided by the number of articles published during the previous 2 years in the Journal. This factor is closely related to the size of the readership; the greater the number of scientists reading Hypertension, the more likely it will be referenced.
We will make every effort to ensure that the highest quality papers are published in Hypertension, but we also recognize the need to increase the Journal’s readership base. We have developed several initiatives aimed at this goal. For example, we have worked with the leadership of the Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease Council of the AHA which recently voted to accept Hypertension as its official journal. Other councils of AHA, such as the Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism Council (NPAM), also have research interests that overlap with the scope of work published in Hypertension, and we are working to develop a readership base in these councils.
Hypertension serves a broad readership with diverse research and clinical interests. The field of hypertension is multidisciplinary, and the journal best serves its purpose if it provides bridges among the many disciplines that are crucial to hypertension research. Our goal is to ensure that Hypertension is the most important forum for publishing basic, clinical, and population research in the multiple disciplines related to hypertension. We will continue to update you on new initiatives and the progress of the Journal and invite you to send your criticisms, suggestions, and reactions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are committed to ensuring that Hypertension continues to be the outstanding journal that its readership deserves.