Annual Meeting Reports

Soliciting High-Quality Articles

In a session dedicated to exploring how journals can attract and publish highquality articles, Darren Taichman, executive deputy editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine, and Denis Baskin, executive editor of the Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry, drew from their experiences to examine the roles that authors, editors, and publishers play in recruiting articles.

Taichman began by emphasizing the importance of a journal’s reputation in attracting high-quality articles—the visibility, impact factor, and review process of a journal can make a big difference to an author who has so many journals to choose from. The submission, review, and publication processes should be as author friendly as possible. When solicited articles are submitted to a journal, Taichman advised that communications from all staff and editors be friendly and collegial. He also encouraged publishers to continue contact with authors after publication, offering assistance; thanking them; providing useful information, such as citation information or media attention; or asking them about their continuing research.

Journal editors can use several avenues to identify potential authors, according to Taichman. He suggested looking at competitor journals that publish material that you like, asking your editorial board members for recommendations, and contacting department chairs and journal reviewers. Other sources of potential papers include abstract and poster presentations, grant-award announcements, and editorials. In soliciting papers, Taichman stressed, honesty is key—be clear about what you can and cannot promise with regard to review and publication.

Baskin followed by exploring who influences journal content and what we mean by high-quality articles. Many players influence journal content, according to Baskin, but in his opinion, the editor of the journal has the most influence. A journal should define what it means by high quality, inasmuch as this can differ by publication. For some journals, high quality may equal a high number of citations and a high impact factor; for others, it might mean novel, interesting content that fits readership culture and expectations and passes editorial review. For most, it is probably a combination of the two. Does high quality mean important advances in the field? Should it include solid findings or incremental advances? Should it stress accuracy and reproducibility of findings?

Baskin suggested using your editorial board to solicit high-quality articles and appointing specialty editors and publishing special issues with guest editors and well-known authors. Speakers presenting at society meetings, workshops, and symposia should also be considered. Baskin suggested distributing calls for papers, soliciting papers from highly cited authors, using “best paper” awards, involving society members, and offering incentives to publish (for example, free color for figures).

It is the editor’s responsibility to define quality for a journal, according to Baskin. He urged journals to be realistic when defining their goals and crafting a strategic plan.

In a field with so much competition, attracting high-quality articles can be a challenge for many journals. By using some of the strategies outlined by the speakers— including making the submission and publication process as author friendly as possible, motivating your editorial board to solicit articles, publishing special issues, and having realistic goals—journals can potentially attract and publish articles that are in line with their long-term strategies.