Annual Meeting Reports

Communicating with Readers and Engaging Them through Technology

Journal editors have always sought to engage readers. The current proliferation of new media offers a variety of ways to provide journal content beyond the traditional print issue to actively engage readers, including those whose needs may be outside the mainstream.

Ingrid Philibert of the Journal of Graduate Medical Education admitted she was initially reluctant to participate in new media. However, her journal was fortunate to receive an offer from ALiEM (Active Life in Emergency Medicine) for an online journal club. AliEM is part of the FOAM (Free Open Access to Medical Education) initiative, which includes video, blogs, and tweets. The initial live offering received 1,324 page views from 373 cities in 42 countries.

The Journal of Graduate Medical Education is also now partnering with Medstro, a socialmedia site with residents as its primary audience. That first foray was asynchronous and received 502 views and 11 questions and answers; the smaller response was attributed to the lack of a live component, a busy audience, and a topic with possibly limited appeal.

The Journal is developing both a practical guide for hosting and curating an online journal club and in-house capacity to promote, host, and curate Medstro discussions. The editors will continue to assess the technology and collect data on real-time and asynchronous online discussions.

Patricia Baskin of the Neurology journals described the launch of three subspecialty publications, two of which (Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation and Genetics) are online only. She noted that the single best way to engage readers is to give them the content they need, and indeed, the new journals expand content in popular subject areas. Providing content in different formats (e.g., apps, alerts, optimized mobile sites, local editions, podcasts) not only maintains the strength of the brand but also presents opportunities for diversifying the revenue stream.

Media coverage is another way to attract readers to a journal site. The Neurology journals’ press office distributes one press release to the media each week. In 2014, 17 billion media impressions (the number of human eyes exposed to news about journal items) had occurred.

Altmetrics track online activity mentions and display the results visually, allowing authors to see who is viewing their work. Another feature is semantic search, which allows readers to search and flag items without using exact wording, either limited to the American Academy of Neurology site or extending to external sources, and to receive recommendations (à la Amazon). Stackly is a web-based tool for collecting, reading, annotating, organizing, storing, and sharing research content. A reader’s personal database is stored in the cloud and can be populated with articles, books, images, music, posters, notes, and videos. Although Stackly can be used with a variety of sites, it “lives” on the Neurology site and always takes the reader back there.

Sheehan Misko of Clinical Chemistry described the need for tools that help trainees succeed early in their careers. The online Clinical Chemistry Trainee Council was started in 2011 to encourage young professionals to contribute to the association and the field. Most of the free educational materials come from Clinical Chemistry; among these are clinical case studies and guides to scientific writing in multiple languages. Available only on the Trainee Council, “Pearls of Laboratory Medicine” are short slide or audio presentations on specific topics or laboratory tests; 86 are currently available. The question bank assists trainees in preparing for United States and United Kingdom board examinations; more than 2,000 questions have been posted. The Council’s podcast program has garnered more than 1 million downloads so far. Now with more than 8,000 members, more than 100 trainees have transitioned to members. To promote sustainability and growth of these offerings, the association is considering whether to impose fees for their use.

Given the array of new-media opportunities, even journals with limited financial resources can find cost-effective ways to leverage their content and promote reader engagement.