The publication of MSSE®'s January issue marks the completion of my first year as Editor-in-Chief, and it is traditional for the editor to report on the state of the journal at this time.
Some changes were made to "freshen" the journal. Last January, we redesigned the cover to better emphasize that MSSE® is "The Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine," by highlighting that descriptor prominently under the journal name, and featuring the College logo more clearly. To infuse new perspective and avoid fatigue effects on the conduct of the peer-review process, as well as to create opportunities for new participants in ACSM leadership activities, four of MSSE®'s longest-serving Associate Editors were rotated to the Editorial Board, and four new Associate Editors were appointed. I also expanded the number of Associate Editors, by inviting MSSE®'s Foreign Consulting Editors to convert to full Associate Editor status. Previously, Foreign Consulting Editor was a largely ceremonial designation, since mailing delays made it impractical to routinely involve these editors in the peer-review process. However, the online Editorial Manager® system eliminates geographic barriers to full involvement in our journal's editorial activities, and 8 of 11 former Foreign Consulting Editors agreed to accept the increased responsibility as Associate Editors. This transition allows a better distribution of editorial workload, and helps position MSSE® as a truly international scientific journal.
The dramatic increase in the rate of manuscript submissions, which began following implementation of Editorial Manager®, our online submission and review system, has continued. In August 2006, over 120 manuscripts were submitted to MSSE®, representing an all-time, single-month record! However, the changes in MSSE®'s roster of Associate Editors enables our peer-review process to operate in a timely manner, despite the challenge of increased submissions. In 2006, MSSE®'s average submission-to-acceptance and submission-to-rejection times declined to 90 and 43 days, respectively, a 34 and 25% improvement over 2005. The Associate Editors and I realize that these averages are no solace to authors whose manuscripts take longer to process, but with the help of those of you who serve as invited reviewers, we can reduce those turnaround times even further. The Associate Editors and I have also taken steps to reduce "in-press" delay for accepted papers. Over the past year, manuscript acceptance was reduced from 37 to 32%. By accepting fewer papers, the average in-press delay for accepted manuscripts declined from 170 to 159 days over the past year, which, while still well above our 130-day goal, represents a significant improvement. In addition, the more selective acceptance rate will enhance MSSE®'s scientific quality.
Other new initiatives implemented during the past year aimed to enhance MSSE®'s value for our readers and the College. A new type of article, titled "Contrasting Perspectives in Exercise Science and Sports Medicine," began in the October issue of the journal. Articles in this series are coauthored by scientists/practitioners who describe and debate contrasting perspectives on controversial topics, using a written format that allows wide latitude in interpreting published data to explain their views. Future installments in this series will span a broad range of topics relevant to interests of ACSM members. I have also selectively recruited symposium organizers at ACSM's Annual Meeting and specialty conferences to submit symposia articles aiming to appeal to the journal's readership interested in basic sciences, and published two of these in 2006, with two more planned for the coming year. Moving forward, I especially want to explore ways to better use MSSE®'s online presence to extend our scientific conversation beyond MSSE®'s printed pages, and provide value-added for our readers. Your suggestions in that respect are encouraged!
It will be some time before we know if these steps enhance MSSE®'s Journal Citation Reports® (JCR) impact factor, and the validity of this metric of journal success is debatable. Nevertheless, by that measure, MSSE® continues to be well cited. MSSE®'s JCR impact factor for 2005 increased (2.831, up from 2.552) and continues to rank within the top 5% among 69 journals published in the Sports Sciences category, as it has since 2000. Although that suggests that MSSE®'s value for readers is improving, it is hard to determine whether we have improved the review process from the submitting authors' perspective. However, I received as many favorable messages as grievances (well, almost as many) from authors about the reviews that they have received. The Associate Editors have pledged to return clear, constructive, and critical reviews to authors, regardless of the decision regarding publication, and we welcome your feedback.
Based on your feedback during the past year, a few editorial policies deserve clarification. First, all submitted manuscripts, invited and unsolicited, undergo peer-review to determine suitability for publication. An invitation to submit does not guarantee publication. Another misunderstood editorial policy concerns resubmission of revised manuscripts. Only authors invited by the responsible Associate Editor may resubmit a revised manuscript; rejected manuscripts may not be resubmitted for reconsideration. Yet another area of confusion is with regard to MSSE®'s policy regarding letters to the Editor-in-Chief. The journal publishes letters promoting substantive scientific dialog about research articles that have appeared in the most recent 12 months, and only author(s) of the subject article will be permitted to respond. Letters about old articles, editorials and other letters to the editor, ACSM policy, or articles published in other journals will not be published. Lastly, our policy requires that authors (or their organization) pay all applicable submission fees (ACSM nonmembers) and page charges for their manuscripts, unless the submission was specifically invited by the Editor-in-Chief.
The Associate Editors and I are becoming increasingly concerned about the issue of inappropriate or honorary authorship. However, we are reluctant to impose arbitrary limits on the number of authors. Therefore, MSSE®'s current editorial policy does not limit the number of authors listed on a manuscript, although we do require specific written explanation regarding individual contributions to justify inclusion of more than six authors. We encourage principle investigators and laboratory directors to "set the bar high" for intellectual integrity by adopting appropriate authorship standards for their submissions.
In closing, I acknowledge that any improvement in the journal's content or operation that you noticed this year was entirely attributable to the dedicated efforts of the Associate Editors, Editorial Board, invited Reviewers and, especially, Managing Editor Ken Wilson and Editorial Services Office Manager, Lori Tish. This past year has been exciting, fun, and truly a learning experience and I am looking forward to my next year of service. I hope that you will continue to provide me your feedback, comments, and suggestions to keep this enterprise on track!
ANDREW J. YOUNG, PH.D, FASCM