Annual Meeting Reports

Managing Journals in a Global Context

Science journals in our globalized world confront two related problems: how best to reach a global audience and how to attract more international authors. The panelists described a wide variety of creative strategies to raise their journals’ global profiles, but some common threads emerged: choosing an appropriate name for an international journal, globalizing editorial boards, expanding outreach to potential authors and reviewers, ensuring wide accessibility, and managing language challenges.

Carly McCuaig recounted her experience developing a higher international profile for the former Canadian Journal of Medical Radiation Technology. In order to bolster its application to be indexed in MEDLINE, the expanding journal dropped “Canadian” from its name—it is now the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences (JMIRS)—and recruited a more international editorial board. It has partnered with several international professional societies that do not have journals to offer free access to JMIRS. The journal has also embraced global social media by starting a journal club on Twitter (#MedRadJClub), where members “meet” each month to discuss a prearranged theme. These strategies have been very successful in attracting more international authors and readers.

Silvia Buntinx was asked to rebuild the journal Veterinaria México OA (VMOA), replacing an editor-in-chief who had enjoyed a 43-year tenure. VM mainly published the research of the Veterinary Medicine Faculty at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and its structure raised several potential conflicts of interest: articles were mainly authored and reviewed by faculty, who also made up the editorial board. Although Silvia did not remove “Mexico” from the journal’s name, she added “OA” to signify its new open-access format. Under a more independent and international editorial board, the new VMOA went online in 2014. Peer review is conducted in English, so both Spanish and English versions of manuscripts are required. VMOA charges no author fees because it is funded by UNAM; it uses Creative Commons licenses to give readers free access. Google Analytics shows vastly improved global visibility for both the journal as a whole and individual articles.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is already the “International Voice of Plastic Surgery.” Understanding that the information needs of plastic surgeons in different places vary, Managing Editor Aaron Weinstein and his team spun off a new open-access journal, PRS Global Open. The high rejection rate (~80%) of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery effectively feeds many high-quality articles to its competitors. Seizing this opportunity, PRS Global Open automatically offers to review papers rejected from PRS. PRS Global Open also advances the mission of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons—to improve plastic and reconstructive surgery worldwide— by waiving or discounting fees for authors from low- and middle-income countries and publishing abstracts and proceedings from international partners. Its editorial board, with a non-US majority, serves as a worldwide network of regional ambassadors. Aaron explained that “you have to bring your journal to where your audience and authors are,” so its next editorial board meeting will be held in South Korea. PRS Global Open also presents awards for international papers at the Society’s annual meeting.

Moderator Carolyn Brown asked the panelists to discuss their decisions about whether to provide open access. Carly explained that although JMIRS is not open access, it more easily attracts international authors because, as a publication of Elsevier, it does not charge author fees. The decisions of Buntinx and Weinstein to permit open access were based in the understanding that their readers would need free access, even though PRS Global Open has to charge author fees as a result.

In the question-and-answer period, the panelists and audience discussed translation. Buntinx said that, at the bilingual VMOA, Spanish and English manuscripts are edited by native speakers of each language. Several audience members mentioned that volunteers translate abstracts for their journals but that, unfortunately, skilled volunteers are hard to find. Weinstein reported that PRS Global Open is piloting an innovative program in which authors post a short online “video abstract” of their articles in their local language. In all, the panelists’ experiences represented some of the many paths to taking a journal global.