We greatly appreciate the privilege of serving as editors of Hypertension, the premier journal in its field. We are also grateful to you, the readers, authors, editorial board members, and reviewers, for your support of the journal and for your excellent scientific contributions, the primary reasons for the continued success of Hypertension.
In this report we provide a brief summary of the current status of the Journal and progress in achieving the goals that were outlined in 2002 when we assumed the editorship.1 These goals are: (1) to ensure publication of the highest quality original basic and clinical research relating to hypertension; (2) to increase the readership and scientific importance of Hypertension; (3) to ensure rapid and fair manuscript reviews, rapid publication of papers, and to provide the highest possible level of efficiency and “customer satisfaction” in our office operations; and (4) to effectively serve the international community of hypertension researchers and clinicians and to provide an important vehicle for achieving the mission of the American Heart Association (AHA) and its Scientific Councils.
Publication of the Highest Quality Original Basic and Clinical Research
The goal of publishing the highest quality hypertension research is easy to proclaim but challenging to achieve, because many other cardiovascular and hypertension journals also compete for the “best” papers. Yet, by all objective measures that we have available, including acceptance rate, “impact factor,” “customer” feedback, readership surveys, and other measures, the quality of manuscripts published in Hypertension appears to be very high.
The acceptance rate for manuscripts submitted to Hypertension averaged over 30% for 2000 to 2001, before we began our editorship. During the last two years, there has been a gradual reduction in the acceptance rate to its present level of slightly less than 20%. This seems to be a reasonable level to ensure publication of the highest quality papers. However, we also recognize the need to adequately serve the many investigators who have relied on Hypertension as the premier journal in the field to publish their work. Therefore, if submissions continue to increase, as expected, we will seek additional journal pages to maintain the current acceptance rate.
Scientific “Impact” and Importance
The Journal Citation Reports (JCR) scientific impact factor of Hypertension for the past year was the highest in the Journal’s history at 5.63 and the highest of any journal devoted to basic or clinical hypertension research. This also ranks in the top 5 journals in the category of peripheral vascular disease. The cited half-life of Hypertension articles was 5.6 years.
Although these statistics make Hypertension the top journal in its field, achieving the highest possible JCR statistics has not been our primary goal. Improving the scientific importance, quality, and interest of the journal to a broad spectrum of readers, however, are major goals of the editors. We have initiated several steps to achieve these objectives and expect that further improvement of JCI statistics will follow. The scientific “impact factor” depends not only of the quality of papers published, but is also heavily influenced by the number of readers and subscribers, the number of reviews and invited materials published, the number of high profile clinical trials and guidelines papers published, and the “popularity” of topics covered by published manuscripts (ie, the number of researchers working in the field who can potentially cite an article). Initiatives underway to increase readership of the Journal include increased distribution of the journal contents to clinicians and researchers throughout the world and translation of articles in the journal in several foreign languages. We have also increased the number of special features and invited articles which, according to our readership surveys, are of great interest to our constituents.
Increased Number of Invited Reviews and Special Features
During the first year of our editorship, few invited articles, commentaries, and reviews were published. The reason for this was our emphasis on correcting the backlog of original research papers that was present when we began our editorship so that papers could be published in a timely manner. As a result, the time from acceptance of a paper to its appearance in print dropped from 27 to 28 weeks to 9 to 10 weeks. Yet we also recognize that invited review articles and special features greatly enhance the overall interest of the journal to its readers, and we have gradually increased the number of Brief Reviews, Commentaries, and special features published in the Journal. We initiated “Hypertension Grand Rounds,” which features a case-based approach to the pathophysiology, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of hypertension. We also began a new feature, “Hypertension Highlights,” in 2004. These articles are intended to highlight topics of unusual interest and importance, provide a further perspective, and enhance the overall significance of recent studies that contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms of hypertension and related cardiovascular diseases, as well as clinical treatment and prevention. We rely on you, as readers, to let us know which topics are of greatest interest and encourage you to provide us with suggestions for Brief Reviews and special features that will enhance the Journal.
Publication of Guidelines, Clinical Trials, and Experimental Studies That Influence Clinical Practice
Although great progress has been made in understanding the pathophysiology of hypertension and in developing effective therapies for controlling blood pressure, suboptimal blood pressure control is still the number one attributable risk for death throughout the world.2 In the United States, ≈30% of adults are still unaware of their hypertension, >40% of individuals with hypertension are not being treated, and two thirds of hypertensive patients are not being controlled to blood pressure levels <140/90 mm Hg.3 Hypertension would fail in one of its most important purposes if it did not help to translate advances in basic and clinical research into more effective treatment of hypertension. Therefore, one of our goals is to make Hypertension more attractive to and more widely read by practicing physicians.
Although our main focus will continue to be on publishing the highest quality original basic and clinical research relating to hypertension, we will also publish articles that are mainly “practical” in their application to effective treatment of hypertension. For example, we published the complete JNC VII report,3 the Summary of the Fourth Report on the Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure in Children and Adolescents,4 and other papers of interest to physicians engaged mainly in the prevention and treatment of hypertension.
We also aim to make Hypertension an important vehicle for publishing major clinical trials that are of importance to practicing physicians. For those of you contemplating journals to submit important clinical trials, please consider that the full content of Hypertension is now available online to a very large audience of clinicians and scientists (more than 22 000), including all professional members of AHA as well as a large number of other subscribers.
Improving Efficiency of Manuscript Review, Online Submissions, and Reviews
Time for First Decision
We have substantially improved the efficiency of office operations and have shortened the time for first decision as well as the time from acceptance to publication. The time from submission to first decision was reduced from 4.4 weeks to the current time of ≈2.8 weeks (Figure 1), even though we provide a full review for almost all submitted manuscripts (ie, we rarely “triage” any manuscripts). It is unlikely that we can reduce the time for first decision much further, although we plan to improve a bit more by eliminating all hard copy materials required for the submission process, including Copyright Transfer Agreements and Permission Acknowledgments, and permitting these materials to be submitted online as pdf files. This high level of efficiency for manuscript reviews has been possible largely because of the cooperation and diligence of the Editorial Board and reviewers, as well as the hard work of the Hypertension office staff, led by Gerry McAlpin, Managing Editor.
Time for Print and Online Publication
The time from acceptance to publication of manuscripts is equally important as rapid reviews. Currently, our time from acceptance to print publication is 9 to 10 weeks, compared with ≈27 to 28 weeks when we began our editorship (Figure 2). We have maintained a policy of no backlog to ensure that publication time is as rapid as possible and are working with the publisher to further reduce publication time to <8 weeks. We have also altered our production schedule so that Hypertension is now being mailed earlier to ensure that you receive the Journal at the beginning of the month, rather than mid-month or even later as was the case before this change.
Currently, the time from acceptance to online publication is ≈4 weeks. Although this time could be reduced dramatically by publishing articles online before the author proofs are completed, Hypertension contains significant clinical information that we feel should be carefully proofed before publishing online. Therefore, we will continue to publish papers online only after they have been author-proofed.
Online Review and Submission System
Although implementing the new Bench>Press online system for reviews and submissions has been challenging, the system seems to be operating effectively according to the feedback we have received. However, we continue to modify and improve the online review system and have recently developed a new component to handle papers submitted for supplements, including the Council for High Blood Pressure supplement. Your patience and suggestions for improving the operation of this system are greatly appreciated.
Manuscript Submissions and Demographics
Manuscript submissions have continued to increase each year. Compared with 2003, manuscript submissions have increased ≈13%, not including the supplements for Council for High Blood Pressure Research and the Inter-American Society of Hypertension meeting (Figure 3). In 2003, submissions increased by ≈20%, compared with 2002. Thus, we have experienced steady growth in submissions during the past two years and will continue our efforts to recruit the best papers in the field of hypertension and related areas.
We received manuscript submissions from 40 countries during the past year. Approximately 43% of manuscripts submitted reported results from basic research, whereas 57% involved clinical or population science research in humans. These values indicate a good balance of basic and clinical research papers submitted to the Journal. The numbers of basic, clinical, and population science papers published are approximately proportional to the numbers of papers submitted in each of these categories.
Hypertension serves a diverse readership and is the official journal of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research, the Council on Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease, and the Inter-American Society of Hypertension, to which we are deeply appreciative. We are committed to ensuring that Hypertension continues to be the outstanding journal you deserve. Please send us your suggestions for improvement and reactions to our initiatives. Any success that the Journal has experienced this year has, in large part, been due to your support and excellent scientific contributions. Please accept our sincere thanks for your support of Hypertension.
Hall JE. Hypertension: opportunities and challenges. Hypertension. 2002; 39: 1–2.
World Health Report 2002: Reducing risks, promoting healthy life. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2002. http://www.who.int/whr/2002.
Chobanian AV, Bakris GL, Black HR, Cushman WC, Green LA, Izzo JL Jr, Jones DW, Materson BJ, Oparil S, Wright JT Jr, Roccella EJ, Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National High Blood Pressure Education Program Coordinating Committee. Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure: the JNC 7 complete report. Hypertension. 2003; 42: 1206–1252.
Falkner B, Daniels SR. Summary of the Fourth Report on the Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure in Children and Adolescents. Hypertension. 2004; 44: 387–388.