Circulation Research Editors’ Yearly Report: 1999–2000
After one year at the helm of Circulation Research, we reflect on the status of the journal and preview its direction. First, we call your attention to several notable changes in the Instructions to Authors. The journal has experienced an increase in submissions of 18% relative to the previous 12 months; so far in the year 2000, the increase equals 29% over the comparable quarters of 1999 (Figure 1⇓). Nevertheless, our efforts to maximize the information content of the printed page have succeeded to the degree that we have been able to liberalize length limits and launch several new categories of papers. The restriction on the number of words has been increased to 6,000 for Original Contributions and to 8,000 for UltraRapid Communications. Although online supplementary information can still be posted, enabling full documentation of methods and supporting data, the word limits for Materials and Methods sections have been lifted. This gives authors the flexibility to structure their papers at will, as long as they adhere to the prescribed overall limits on words and display items. We have also reinstituted the category of Reviews; at 10,000 words, Reviews enable a definitive summary of a fairly broad area and complement the more focused MiniReviews. One last change, announced recently, is the institution of a new manuscript category entitled Reports. This category provides a forum for rapid publication of high-priority scientific findings that can be explained and documented in a compact manner. Longer papers can still receive expedited review and publication in the online-only UltraRapid Communications category. Reports, in contrast, appear in the print journal but are much shorter than UltraRapids. Full up-to-date-Instructions to Authors for all categories can be found at http://circres.ahajournals.org/misc/ifora.shtml.
From an operations viewpoint, Circulation Research pioneered the conversion to electronic operations among the American Heart Association journals over the last year. This transition, along with our commitment to minimizing delays at the editorial level, has resulted in considerable improvements in efficiency. Figure 2⇓ shows cumulative 12-month data for times to first decision. For all manuscript categories containing original data, the average time to first decision equaled 3.2 calendar weeks. A comparably brief time (3.1 weeks) was required to render first decisions on MiniReviews. For accepted papers, the times from submission to publication reached an all-time minimum of 16.5 weeks (Figure 3⇓). This was due both to abbreviation of the time from submission to acceptance as well as a marked truncation of the publication lag (ie, the time from acceptance to publication). Given the delays intrinsic to the peer-review process, it is difficult to imagine that we will be able to do much better with regard to times to acceptance while maintaining rigorous standards of scientific evaluation. Nevertheless, we will continue to strive to improve our performance even in the face of rising submission volumes, primarily by accelerating the production process. The Editors have been working closely with the publisher (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins) and with the peer-review software development team (Medical Support Systems) toward this common goal, and will continue to do so.
Figure 4⇓ shows the breakdown of final decisions from July 1, 1999, through June 30, 2000. The overall acceptance rate during this period equaled 23%. The vast majority of these acceptances came from revised manuscripts or de novo resubmissions; only 1% of initial decisions were acceptances. Note also that 3% of submissions were rejected as “inappropriate” at the editorial level, and another 11% were turned down after an accelerated “triage” evaluation in which the Editors sought the opinion of at least one external reviewer. Most of these accelerated reviews were performed by Editorial Board members; indeed, without the dedication of our Board and our reviewers in general, the efficiencies that we have been able to harness would have been impossible.
Figure 5⇓ shows various measures of citation impact over the last 4 years. Panel A plots the impact factor. The 1999 value of 8.281 reflects an increase over 1998 and a maintained rank of No. 2 within the Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems category. This ranking is remarkable in that Circulation Research has not published meeting abstracts, which artificially inflate the impact factor. As a corollary, the citation half-life of Circulation Research is 7.2 years (Figure 5B⇓), the longest among the major cardiovascular journals. This means that papers published here continue to attract a large number of citations many years after they appear. In fact, the “double product” of 59.6 (impact factor times cited half-life) for Circulation Research consistently leads the pack among cardiovascular journals (Figure 5C⇓), with the closest competitors coming in at 54.5 and 39.8 in 1999. The present Editors are happy to bask in the glory of these exemplary ratings, which in reality reflect the journal’s performance during Steve Vatner’s editorship; it will be another year before the citation indices begin to include papers that we have handled since taking over.
Where is the journal headed? The Editors will stay the course. Our mantra is “mechanistic research”: we require technical excellence, but we have rejected many technically outstanding papers that fell short of providing major insights into mechanism. We will seek to maintain a healthy balance of vascular biology and myocardial biology, remaining ever receptive to areas of scientific opportunity and innovation, whatever the tissue. We continue to welcome work on human subjects, as long as it illuminates fundamental pathophysiology and pathogenesis. In fact, the journal has published 14 articles in its Clinical Research section over the past 12 months, with more to come. Finally, the Editors wish to thank the reviewers and authors for their exceptional contributions to the journal. We welcome your suggestions and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- © 2000 American Heart Association, Inc.
SCI® Journal Citation Reports®: a bibliometric analysis of science journals in the ISI® database. Philadelphia, Pa: Institute for Scientific Information, Inc®; 1999.