It seems utterly impossible to think that it was 12 years ago that I penned my first Editor's Note as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy (JNPT). Reflecting back on this time, and this journal that has been my companion for more than a decade, brings so many wonderful recollections. I hope you will indulge me a single paragraph in this Note to share one with you.
My first year as Editor is seared into my memory because I had just published a textbook, which had taken me 3 years from start to finish. My son was in elementary school at the time, and he had delighted in the book launch party for my colleagues who had contributed to the textbook. Needless to say, he was not thrilled about my starting “another book report project,” as he called it, taking up mom's time during nights and weekends. The months flew by as they will, and I continued to work on the journal through our sabbatical year in Barcelona. When we returned to the United States, my son, who was entering middle school by that time, asked: “Mom, when are you finally going to publish that journal so we can have the party?” Today, as a college sophomore with a packed social calendar, he could not care less about how I spend my nights and weekends, but he did bake me a pan of brownies—his favorite party food—when I told him I was working on my last editorial.
As I write this final Editor's Note, I know I will miss the opportunity they have offered to share my reflections on topics and issues that relate to neurologic physical therapy theory and practice. I sincerely appreciate those of you have e-mailed me from time to time to say that you found a Note to be of value, that you passed it along to a colleague, or discussed it with your students. Simply knowing that someone was actually reading them has been truly heartwarming.
The title of this final note “Passing the Torch” offers an apt image; much like a torch, a scientific journal lights the way as an expedition explores new domains. In the case of JNPT, we have an entire community that has contributed to this expedition–in the body of our incredible Associate Editors, Editorial Board members, and reviewers–together exploring new areas of applied science and its relevance for practice. Working with this committed group of individuals has been the single greatest joy of being the Editor-in-Chief. Having served on other Editorial Boards, there is no doubt in my mind that the commitment of the JNPT community to “their” journal is what has made all the difference for the success of JNPT. It is impossible to keep count of the number of times manuscript authors, having received the comments of the Editors, Editorial Board members, and reviewers, have reached out to say how valuable the comments were for developing and refining their articles for the greatest possible impact. As I pointed out in the Editor's Note that accompanied the January 2020 issue of JNPT, peer reviewers are surely the unsung heroes of science.
From the beginning of my term as Editor-in-Chief in 2009, the Associate Editors worked with a unified purpose to convene an Editorial Board with international representation and develop a manual of procedures for standardization of journal processes. We celebrated a milestone achievement when, in 2011, JNPT received its first Journal Citations Reports (JCR) 2-year Impact Factor and associated rankings in the categories of Rehabilitation and Clinical Neurology for articles published in 2009-2010. Since that time, JNPT has twice ranked in the Top 5 in the Rehabilitation category (2013, 2017), another time in the Top 10 (2019), and has earned its current 5-year Impact Factor of 3.680. While the JCR Impact Factor is admittedly a crude measure of a journal's value (being based solely on the citation rate of published articles), it is the most commonly used indicator of the significance of the content published in a journal and it is the primary benchmark that authors consider when deciding where to submit their most substantive manuscripts.
The Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy (formerly the Neurology Section) has had a long commitment to advancing practice through research, with JNPT (formerly Neurology Report) being the most visible manifestation of this commitment. The historical legacy of our journal, now in volume 44, is preserved on the JNPT Editorial Board Web page and reaches back through 10 Editors beginning 1977. Having served since 2001 as an Associate Editor during the remarkable tenure of Judith Deutsch, whose vision as Editor-in-Chief transformed our journal in so many ways, it was an honor to take the torch she passed to me. By the same token, it will be an honor to have my name added to the historical legacy of our journal.
As much as I will miss the role I have had with JNPT for the past dozen years, there could be no better person to whom the torch is passed than George Fulk. Having worked with George in his role as Associate Editor & Digital Media Editor since 2010, and through 2020 in his transitional year as Deputy Editor, I know he brings both head and heart to his new role. With his broad perspective on our field, his thoughtful and discerning manner, and his tireless commitment, he will surely excel as Editor-in-Chief. I look forward to the innovative and enterprising ideas that George will bring as he lights the way for our JNPT community in the next phase of our expedition. Onward and upward we go together!