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Publisher’s Note: Engagement and Impact: We Seek Both

The Impact Factor uses a simple calculation – number of citations to scholarly articles published in a two-year period divided by the number of those articles. The resulting number allows various constituencies to compare the purported intellectual impact of a particular journal against other comparable journals and to trend impact over time.

For years, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery has focused on giving surgeons at the interface of clinical practice and academic research the best information possible, making the Impact Factor a number we didn’t focus on much. Our measurements of reader feedback and engagement have been much more important, and will continue to be.

Still, imagine our pleasant surprise when this year our Impact Factor rose dramatically, increasing 33% from 3.234 to 4.309. In addition, measurements such as what Thomson Reuters calls the “Article Influence Score” roughly doubled for JBJS.

There are many reasons for increases like this, but excellent editorial content is clearly the leading candidate for praise. As you know, Vern Tolo, MD, recently transitioned out of the role of Editor-in-Chief for The Journal. He clearly deserves much of the credit for these numbers, which occurred under his careful editorial stewardship. The Journal’s superb Deputy Editors, methodology and statistical consultants, and editorial staff also deserve praise for consistently pushing the standards of The Journal higher.

Best of all, our Impact Factor rose while our engagement with readers also increased. Recent readership surveys show that our readers are reading us in print as much as ever, online more than ever, and engaging with our social media outlets more and more every day..

We’re proud that JBJS has increasing impact as an orthoapedic journal. Our goal remains the same, however – to have a positive impact on surgical expertise, patient care, and outcomes.

Publisher’s Note: Building on Early Success

Journals provide third-party validation for research reports. If you get published in a better journal, your work will likely be perceived as having been more successful. Editors and publishers feel the same way when it comes to how our audience rates our products. So we were very pleased when a recent independent third-party study found that our new review journal, JBJS Reviews, has rapidly become the #3 online journal in orthopaedics.

JBJS Reviews was launched just over six months ago, but it is already viewed as one of the top 3 professional resources for quality content, helping run an orthopaedic practice, and keeping surgeons informed. There are many other categories, but you get the idea – JBJS Reviews is already proving its worth.

Our Editor-in-Chief for JBJS Reviews, Tom Einhorn, MD, has done a fabulous job getting this new journal off the ground, and dozens of authors have contributed excellent reviews, and more are scheduled. We’re excited about the potential here.

That being said, the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery still ranks #1 in nearly every category, so we have a lot to build upon there, as well. And that’s how we view it – being #1 is not a destination but an expectation, as is quickly joining the top 3. We need to keep working at a high level, improving what we do, and delivering great information in all formats.

Earlier this year, the Journal introduced the Peer-Review Statement, granting readers insight into how articles are peer-reviewed. A high percentage of readers find this valuable, we’ve learned. We are also introducing an integrated tablet app for iOS and Android devices. All our journals – the Journal, JBJS Reviews, JBJS Case Connector, and JBJS Essential Surgical Techniques – will appear in the single app. Best of all, if you already use the JBJS Reviews app, your next update will give you the integrated app seamlessly.

We value our readers and know how important your work is and how valuable your time is. I hope these improvements and high-quality resources serve you well.

 

Publisher’s Note: The Technological Revolution in Publishing

The migration of traditional print businesses into online enterprises has created long-term demands on editorial functions, technology partnerships, and organizational cultures. From major technology firms like Google, Apple, and Facebook to enduring publishing brands like the New York Times, these demands have led to very public struggles over the past months.

This month, JBJS launches redesigned and upgraded Web sites, soon to be followed by a unified tablet app for iOS and Android that will include all JBJS journals (JBJS, JBJS Case Connector, JBJS Essential Surgical Techniques, and JBJS Reviews). Because of this and trends in user preferences, technology is front and center for us.

For scientific, medical, and scholarly publishers, online and digital products have been an increasing focus for more than two decades. But some change comes slowly, especially in the realm of organizational culture. During the print era, once an article was published, the cultural habit was to move on to the next set of articles. This approach allowed for batch work consistently oriented toward what was next.

No longer. With our Twitter feed now topping 10,000 followers, the moment an article is published, entirely new workflows begin– social media, archiving, editorial selections for new products and online marketing, and so forth. These activities change our culture, and require new technologies and new skills.

We also now have to rework our archives on a regular basis. This year, JBJS celebrates its 125th anniversary. While building our new sites, we had to migrate 125 years of articles into new formats, new designs, and new technology infrastructures – a major task that was far more difficult and intricate than moving a dozen shelves of bound volumes from one room to another.

We are busy transforming JBJS into a leading organization for the modern information economy – from our core journals to our online education offerings. While the challenges are real and the changes significant, we love the work, and our talents are sharpened every day.

I hope you enjoy our new Web sites, our new tablet app, and our efforts to bring you the best orthopaedic information in formats you can use.

Publisher’s Note: The 2014 Boston Marathon – An Amazing Day for Positive Outcomes

The 2013 Boston Marathon was stolen from the athletes and the city by two terrorist bombs, which led to four deaths, hundreds of injuries, a city shuttered for long stretches, and a tense manhunt that concluded with one suspect dead and the other injured. But the 2013 Marathon wasn’t finished until the end of the day on April 21, 2014. Marathon Monday 2014 in Boston was a glorious day for more than 32,000 runners and more than a million spectators. It was a day throughout which the outcomes of orthopaedic, disaster preparedness, physical therapy, and emergency medicine teamwork were again on display.

From prosthetic limbs to fundraising groups paying it forward, the 2014 Boston Marathon was inspiring end-to-end. As thousands of runners observed a moment of silence in the chill morning at the Hopkinton start, the profound shared experience of the past year or years settled upon them. Urged to “Take back that finish line!” the runners ran through sun-filled streets to the finish line 26.2 miles away. Children, families, and strangers clapped, shouted, and urged them on every step of the way.

In March, in conjunction with our friends at the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT), we published a special report on the emergency preparedness, long-term care, and outcomes for many of those caught up in last year’s Marathon bombings. This report is available online for free at http://sites.jbjs.org/ittakesateam/2014/. I urge you to take a look.

If there was ever an event that showed how the skill, knowledge, and diligence of medical professionals benefited people with the resolve and strength to make the most of it, the 2014 Boston Marathon was that event. As families embraced at the finish line, as friends, heroes, and survivors shared in the accomplishment of completing not just one marathon but so much more, one theme stood out: the amazing strides made possible through teamwork in orthopaedic care, physical therapy, emergency medicine, trauma surgery, and system-wide planning.

Publisher’s Note: The Unseen Costs of Providing Online Information

Providing information online is neither free nor easy, despite the general perception that online information can or should be free.

The perceptual problem is one we business types describe in terms of “variable costs.” The variable costs of online are small, usually a fraction of what they are to deliver a printed issue. Because the user discerns no significant variable costs when downloading information, the perception is that online can be free or much cheaper than print, where the variable costs are more readily apparent (printed materials and postal costs that vary in proportion to the quantity of output).

However, where online information differs significantly from our print legacy is in fixed costs – those costs we have to incur to make the first instance of something—to design a site, to make content accessible, to program interfaces and data systems, and so forth. These fixed costs of online information publishing are significant, and they are not decreasing.

Fixed costs for online information delivery include 24/7 worldwide availability; long-term contracts with providers of  publishing software, media players, analytics packages, email packages, and so forth; and management staff to develop new systems, migrate systems through software upgrades, and migrate content from earlier generations of Web markup languages to newer ones. The list is long and growing longer.

Boiling it down a little, here are the main reasons why the fixed costs of providing information online are not decreasing:

  • Users want more convenience, options, and capabilities. From tablet versions to inline video to online customer service, publishers and others are continually building new services and incurring new fixed costs.
  • Expertise in software and content development is expensive. It takes really talented people to make online a reality. These people command good wages, and the market for their talent is very competitive.
  • Content is more like software. Content used to be a one-time event – you’d finish editing an article, put it into a nice page layout, and print it. Now, content goes through versions just like software. The markup languages that render it online evolve, and publishers have to revise their entire archives with each major evolution. Multimedia introduces new layers of similar work–and additional costs.
  • Print business models are under stress, so online has to carry more of the costs. A decade ago, online was an accessory for a robust print publisher. Now, print is losing its ability to carry the full load, shifting the fixed costs for print to online. This means a higher proportion of the cost for content creation, editorial work, art work, and management has to be carried by the online business.

As we’ve been doing for hundreds of years, publishers are trying to find a balance for users between cost and value. It’s especially tricky right now because so many factors are changing all at once.

Users want more and better information through their tablets, smartphones, and laptop and desktop computers. We’re continually adapting to meet these expectations. In the coming months, we will have many exciting announcements about our developing online capabilities. Already, we are publishing inline videos and accepting video content from authors at a high rate. Our new JBJS Reviews journal has a well-reviewed iOS and Android app you can use now. More tablet capabilities are coming later this year, as are revamped Web sites.

We’re excited about the future, and we love the capabilities online publishing provides –making information more immediately available worldwide, showing and telling, and providing users with ways to find content quickly and easily. But while it’s amazing and useful, online represents a new kind of information economy for us content providers – one that has more in common with software companies than with printers.