the Scholarly Journal
why (and how) your organizationís scholarly journal and other publications
should forge a deeper, more collaborative partnership.
Scholarly publications should
serve as a hallmark of organizational excellence, establish a groupís thought
leadership in the community and live in perpetuity in "the literature.Ē
But how can a scholarly journal truly benefit your associationís communications
Attendees to the Association Media & Publishing
Chicago Conference on November 18 at the American Dental Association had the
opportunity to delve into numerous ways to forge relationships and collaborations
between association journal teams and their membership publication or
director of publishing for the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening,
managing editor for the Annals of Internal Medicine, led a discussion of what
makes peer-reviewed journals different from membership publications and shared
examples of how the twain can meet.
Hallock opened the session by asking the
audience to name two ways in which their associationsí scholarly journals
contribute to the success of the member publications, and two ways in which their
member publications contribute to the success of our journals. For most
attendees, these questions elicited more head scratching than solid answers.
To help out, Hallock outlined how scholarly
journals differ from member publications and even conference presentations:
are not paid ó in some cases, the authors actually pay the association to
publish their work.
is an established, formal process for submitting and evaluating manuscripts.
must be original and previously unpublished.
are rigorously peer reviewed.
review relies heavily on the involvement of volunteer members rather than paid
association staff manages the process and the business of publishing.
Schaeffer then described the peer-review process
at Annals of Internal Medicine:
author submits a manuscript to the journal.
editor screens the manuscript for appropriateness.
editor solicits three external peer reviewers, who evaluate the manuscript for
originality, timeliness, appeal to the journalís readership, and experimental
methodology. Each reviewer recommends whether to reject, ask for revisions, or
accept as is.
editors discuss the reviews in weekly meetings.
manuscript may be returned to the author for revision more than once. However,
if the revisions continue to be unsatisfactory, a manuscript may be rejected.
Reviewersí feedback is constructive and
specific, Hallock says. Authors are required to respond to their comments, but
are not required to agree with all of them.
Schaeffer notes that scholarly journals
directly fulfill the mission of the organization. To do so, they must have
editorial independence. At Annals of
Internal Medicine, this means that advocacy items from the association must
undergo the same process of peer review as technical manuscripts. This in
depth, formalized review is crucial because journals may be more widely known
than the organizations that publish them, and they live in perpetuity because
they are indexed and archived in databases.
Perhaps the most widely used measure of a
journalís quality is the impact factor, which is announced each June by Thomson
Reuters. Schaeffer used the example of Annals
of Internal Medicineís impact factor for 2013:
Within an association, the journal publishing
team and the member publications team may be divided by a lack of understanding
of each otherís work, as well as a lack of communication. However, Hallock
maintains that they can be compatible partners; after all, both teams want to
present the same association or society in the best way possible. In addition,
they have the same mission and the same readership.
- Annals of Internal
published a total of 327 citable papers in 2011 and 2012. (A citable paper is
one that has at least 20 references.)
these, the papers that were cited received a total of 5,266 citations in 2013.
factor = 5266/327 = 16.104
An association journalís high-quality,
scientific content benefits the societyís members, explains Schaeffer, by
reinforcing the societyís credibility, making headlines, guiding the editorial
direction, providing fodder for the societyís social media, and feeding the
An often overlooked strategy, however, is how
member publications can assist journals in this effort, notes Hallock. For
example, they can:
achievements by writing about them.
the credibility, value, and success of the journals.
engagement with the journal through online viewership, manuscript submissions,
citations, and subscriptions.
journal papers, such as by profiling authors on the website.
Journal papers may be picked up on social
media, adds Schaeffer. In addition, journal content may be repurposed for other
media, such as videos for the website.
bottom line, say Hallock and Schaeffer, is that an associationís member
publication and journal teams should seek opportunities to work together,
focusing on ways to leverage scholarly publishing
content in member communications.
Rachel Detwiler is editor in chief at
Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute.
Association Media & Publishing sincerely thanks her for covering this
session at the AM&P Chicago Conference for our members who were unable to