This is the final “Hypertension Update” for our current team of editors. We greatly appreciate the tremendous support from the many authors who have submitted their best research for consideration, the reviewers and editorial board members who have committed valuable time and energy to ensure that the best manuscripts are selected for publication, and the many loyal readers who have provided feedback that has improved the journal over the past 10 years of our editorship. It has been a privilege and a great pleasure to serve the readers of Hypertension and the American Heart Association (AHA).
Our main objectives for Hypertension from the beginning have been (1) to publish 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 articles, 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 provide an important vehicle for achieving the mission of the AHA.
As noted in a previous review of the history of Hypertension,1 we were fortunate that our predecessors handed the journal to us in good shape. Although Hypertension had a difficult birth, it rapidly became the leading journal in its field under the successive editorships of Harriet Dustan (founding editor, University of Alabama-Birmingham), Ed Haber (Harvard University), Allyn Mark and Jerry DiBona (University of Iowa), and Ed Frohlich (Tulane University).1
When the editorship was transferred to us in 2002, we assembled an international team of editors for the first time in the journal's history. The Associate Editors included Joey Granger, Dan Jones and Celso Gomez-Sanchez from the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Curt Sigmund from Iowa City, Fred Luft from Berlin, and Ernesto Schiffrin from Montreal. Over the past several years, new Associate Editors, including Jan Staessen (Belgium), Richard Roman (initially from Milwaukee, but later transferring to Jackson), and Nancy Brown (Nashville) joined the team, each bringing a new perspective and expertise in areas of importance to the journal's success. Dan Jones and Curt Sigmund stepped down as associate editors when they became, respectively, President of the AHA and Editor-in-Chief of another journal; however, both continued to serve Hypertension even with the challenges of their new duties. Norman Kaplan became the first CME editor of Hypertension. I take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to all of the editors whose superb work has been key to achieving the goals that we established for Hypertension.
Our previous updates2,3 have documented the improvement of the journal's key statistics including detailed information on submissions and various indicators of quality such as “impact factor” and readership. Therefore, the current report will provide only a short summary of progress toward meeting our goals and some of the key changes that Hypertension has undergone in the past 10 years.
Improving Efficiency and Effectiveness of Manuscript Reviews
One of the first challenges that we faced was implementing “online” processing of manuscripts submitted to Hypertension. Fortunately, Gerry McAlpin, Managing Editor, had worked closely with me for several years when I served as editor for another journal and played a key role in interacting with the AHA and the publishers to implement the web-based system. This system, along with great effort by the editors and staff who worked at all hours of the day (and night), was critical in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of manuscript reviews; the time from manuscript submission to first decision decreased from 4.2 weeks when we began our editorship to an average of 2.4 weeks (Figure 1). Another factor critical to the journal's success is rapid publication of manuscripts after they have been accepted. The time from acceptance to print publication decreased from approximately 27.5 weeks in 2001 to 7.8 weeks and to 4.2 weeks for online publication, including time for copy editing and author proof reading of the articles (Figure 2).
Increased Manuscript Submissions
Figure 3 shows the increasing number of manuscript submissions during the years of our editorship. For 2010 to 2011, manuscripts were submitted from 52 countries. Approximately 60% of manuscripts submitted in 2010 to 2011 were clinical or population science, and 40% were basic science manuscripts. During the last several years, it has been necessary to gradually reduce manuscript acceptance rates to the present level of 18% to 20%. For 2010 to 2011, the average acceptance rate was 18.4%. Acceptance rates have remained relatively stable for the past 2 years and appear to be at a reasonable level to ensure publication of the highest quality articles and still remain within the page budget allocated by the AHA Scientific Publishing Committee.
The numbers of published basic, clinical, and population science articles were nearly proportional to the numbers of articles submitted in each of these categories. For 2010, 44% of accepted manuscripts were from clinical and population science studies, and 56% were basic science studies. These data have remained relatively stable for the past several years and indicate a good balance of basic, clinical, and population research articles submitted to the journal and published.
Improving “Impact” and Readership
The Journal Citation Reports scientific impact factor for Hypertension continues to be the highest of any journal devoted to basic or clinical hypertension research. Hypertension ranked 4th in the category of peripheral vascular disease by the Journal Citation Reports. The cited half-life of Hypertension articles increased to 7.3 years, indicating that articles published in the journal have “staying power” and continue to be cited for many years after they are published.
“Impact factor” is only one measure of the scientific impact of a journal. The journal's true impact is also determined by how many people read it and gain valuable information. Therefore, we sought new avenues to broaden the readership, to reach health care professionals and scientists who may not have traditionally viewed Hypertension as a “must read” journal, and to increase the journal's overall scientific and clinical impact. Several initiatives were undertaken to increase readership and to distribute the journal contents to clinicians and researchers throughout the world; for example, we developed cooperative arrangements with several international hypertension, nephrology, cardiology, and physiology societies to send the electronic table of contents of Hypertension to their members. Hypertension articles, especially those that have a clinical focus, have also been published in multiple languages. These efforts have resulted in large increases in the number of accesses to online journal content and sign-ups for receiving journal content via e-mails (Figure 4).
Readership surveys indicated that about 58% of the journal's readers are clinicians, and about 42% are basic scientists. Therefore, an important goal of the editors has been to ensure that the content of Hypertension meets the needs of its broad range of readers. To meet this goal, we instituted several new features (eg, Hypertension Grand Rounds, Hypertension Highlights, Controversies in Hypertension, Hypertension Tutorials), and we requested that authors include a brief section called Perspectives at the end of their articles in order to articulate the “bottom line” of their work and to speculate on its overall importance and possible implications for future research or clinical care. This has been popular with readers, and many other journals have adopted some variation of this feature. Readership surveys have indicated that over 90% of respondents were satisfied with the content and quality of the journal.
Summary and Perspectives
Hypertension is recognized as the top journal in its field, and we can all take pride in the fact that many advances in understanding the causes of hypertension and its impact on cardiovascular disease, stroke, and kidney disease have been reported in the journal. However, there is still room for improvement in the scientific and clinical impact of Hypertension. We expect the new editorial team, led by Anna Dominiczak as Editor-in-Chief, will continue to make improvements in Hypertension and maintain its position as the leader in its field, and we pledge our full support in assisting them as they assume their duties on January 1, 2012. Anna is Regius Professor of Medicine and Therapeutics and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow. She previously served as British Heart Foundation Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Glasgow, as well as the director of the Cardiovascular Research Centre. With these excellent credentials, Anna will undoubtedly lead Hypertension to new heights of excellence.
We are grateful for the support we have received from the AHA staff, especially Heather Goodell, Director of Scientific Publishing. The Council for High Blood Pressure Research was the driving force for the birth and development of Hypertension and continues to strongly support the journal. The Council on Kidney and Cardiovascular Disease and the Inter-American Society of Hypertension also adopted Hypertension as their official journal, and this support has been important to the journal's success. We especially appreciate the outstanding work of our editorial office staff: Gerry McAlpin, Managing Editor; Denise Kuo, Assistant Managing Editor; Stephanie Allbritton, Editorial Assistant; and Renata Gil, Editorial Assistant. All of this support and encouragement by many loyal readers and contributors to Hypertension have made the last 10 years extraordinarily rewarding. Thank you.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.