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Some Achievements and Some Growing Pains

Scerbo, Mark W. PhD, FSSH, FHFES

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Simulation in Healthcare: The Journal of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare: December 2021 - Volume 16 - Issue 6 - p 375-377
doi: 10.1097/SIH.0000000000000629
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This is the 6th issue of the 16th volume of Simulation in Healthcare, and it may look different from previous issues. It is a little leaner but has 3 times as many articles!

Over the last year, one of the challenges faced by many journals including ours has been a growing and sizeable backlog of manuscripts, due in part to the pandemic. The printing and distribution of hardcopies of journals slowed while submissions increased. Our publisher, Wolters Kluwer, offered the editors of many of their journals the opportunity to formally publish much of their Published Ahead of Print backlog of articles in an online format. We contacted the authors of our backlog of articles and offered them this opportunity and most accepted. As a result, these articles make up an online-only addition to the Journal. Half appear in this issue and the remainder will appear in first issue of 2022. These articles have assigned page numbers in their respective issues and are included in the Table of Contents designated as online content.

Increasing Submissions

Another reason for the growing backlog is that the Journal continues to receive an unprecedented number of submissions. Between 2016 and 2019, submissions increased from about 300 to 376. In 2020, we received 436 submissions, the highest number of annual submissions in the Journal’s history and we are on pace to break that record this year. The increase in submissions underscores the importance authors place on our journal and is a significant measure of our success.

The increase in submissions does not really allow more articles to be published. Most journals have a fixed annual page allotment which cannot be exceed without significant expense. Naturally, this has led the Journal to be more discriminating about the articles we publish. Of the 436 manuscripts submitted in 2020, 91 (21%) were accepted, 322 (74%) were rejected, and 23 (12%) are either still under revision or were never returned. This rejection rate indicates that we have become quite selective and are publishing from among the top 21% of submissions.

The 2020 Journal Impact Factor

The journal impact factor (JIF) for Simulation in Healthcare remains strong. The JIF is an index of the number of articles we published over the most recent two years cited by other journal articles in the Clarivate™ Web of Science Database.1 Our 2020 JIF is 1.93 and our 5-year JIF increased to 3.28. This is this is the highest 5-year JIF in the Journal’s history.2 Our recent JIF reaffirms the importance of simulation within healthcare education and practice. In this regard, the top five journals that cited our articles during this five-year interval are BMC Medical Education, Clinical Simulation in Nursing, Journal of Surgical Education, Medical Teacher, and Resuscitation, in addition to our own journal.

It is also worth noting that in late 2020, Clarivate™ announced a change in how the JIF will be calculated beginning this year.3,4 Traditionally, the JIF is computed by taking the number of articles in the journal cited by other articles and dividing by the number of “citable” articles published in the journal in the previous two years. The change to the JIF calculation applies to how manuscripts that are not formally published are handled. Many journals, including ours, publish versions of accepted articles online before they appear in the printed journal. A subset of these “Published Ahead of Print” articles are considered Early Access articles when no more changes can be made, they include a digital object identifier (DOI) that will not change and have an Early Access publication date (which is designated in the Web of Science database).

Up until this year, early access articles were not included in the JIF until the final version was available and could be included in the denominator. Beginning this year, the JIF numerator will include Early Access dated within the JIF year and the denominator will now include Early Access articles with a publication date in the previous two years leading up to the JIF year.

How does this new calculation affect the JIF for Simulation in Healthcare? Ultimately, it depends on how long Early Access content has been available. For journals that have Early Access content older than two years, there is a benefit to having this material included in the JIF. Although our backlog has increased as noted above, we do not have Early Access articles older than 2 years. So, this change in calculation will not affect the JIF for our journal.

The Editorial Board

We have made important changes to the Editorial Board. We have added two new Associate Editors: Mark Adler, MD, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Veronica T. Lerner, MD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. We also added some new members to the Editorial Board: Eleanor B. Peterson, M.D., F.A.A.P., Department of Pediatrics, University of Louisville, Roxane Gardner MD, MPH, MSHPEd, DSc, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Daniel J. Scherzer, MD, Division of Emergency Medicine, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Mary Ann Shinnick, PhD, MN, ACNP, CNS, CHSE-A, FSSH, Azusa Pacific University and UCLA School of Nursing, and Ellen Deutsch, MD, MS, FAAP, FACS, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

One of the goals we have been working on for some time has been to develop a greater social media presence for Simulation in Healthcare. Several medical journals have added social media editors to their boards to help engage the readers, create awareness of important articles, and bring academic authors closer to the public.5,6 The editors and I discussed our needs, crafted a role statement, and put out a call for applicants this summer. I am delighted to announce that Jennifer Arnold, MD, MSc, FAAP, Boston Children’s Hospital, was chosen to be the Social Media Editor for the Journal. She and I will have more to say about this new position and our social media plans in the coming weeks.

COVID-19 Content

We began receiving submissions related to COVID-19 in March 2020 and there has been a continual stream of manuscripts on this topic since then. In July 2020, we announced a new format: COVID-19 Brief Reports.7 The objective of these Brief Reports was to provide members of the healthcare simulation community a forum to share their direct experiences as they managed within the constraints of the pandemic and to expedite the publication of simulation-based ideas and solutions that might benefit the healthcare simulation community. To date, we have received over 60 submissions and have published 14 COVID-19 Brief Reports.


As some of you may have noticed, this year we joined the Clarivate™ Publons system which has been integrated with our manuscript system, Editorial Manager (EM). The Publons system offers many benefits to authors and reviewers. It can be used to collect information about peer reviews and build a public reviewer profile for participating reviewers. This system compiles an individual’s peer review and journal editing history with our journal and thousands of others, as well as summarizing one’s scholarly impact as an author, peer reviewer, and editor. Authors and editors can track, verify, and compile their reviewing and editorial contributions, and get recognition for their efforts. For example, when reviewers submit their reviews, they are given the option through EM to get recognition for their efforts on Publons. Verification is built into the process to formally recognize reviewers even for blind reviews.

Revised Instructions for Authors Submitting Manuscripts

The information appearing in the Instructions for Authors area on the Journal website ( had not been changed substantially since it was initially posted. Therefore, the associate editors and I reviewed this material and have made numerous revisions. Links and urls have been updated to be current. Some guidelines for manuscript preparation were revised to be consistent with the publisher’s requirements. However, more significant revisions were made to the section on Types of Papers. Several of these changes are worth noting.

Technical Reports must now include two or more of the following: a) details regarding specific design objectives and whether the innovation achieves the stated objectives, b) details on how the technology has been implemented and formally tested, or c) both objective and subjective data that demonstrate its utility or how it compares to other similar solutions. In addition, when reporting production cost/use information, the cost of labor should be included along with that of materials or purchased components.

Review Articles have been expanded to include two formats. A new format for General Review articles was added for articles that offer a critical analysis and synthesis of a body of literature. We will continue to accept Literature Review Articles that adhere to a formal, reproducible process for describing the current state of the literature tied to specific research questions. The Journal will accept Systematic Literature Reviews that are narrow and tightly focused and may or may not include meta-analyses; and Scoping Literature Reviews that are more exploratory and address a broader and more diverse body of literature. Literature Review Articles must include a PRISMA Flow Diagram within the manuscript and be accompanied with the PRISMA 2020 Checklist.

Empirical Investigation articles present results of original empirical research including the development and validation of assessment instruments. Most empirical investigation submissions must now adhere to standard reporting guidelines.

  • Research using Randomized Control Trials is to be submitted under Empirical Investigations: Randomized Control Trials and must include the Simulation-Based Research Extensions for CONSORT checklist.
  • Research using Observational studies is to be submitted under Empirical Investigations: Observational Studies and must include the Simulation-Based Research Extensions for STROBE checklist.
  • Qualitative research studies are to be submitted under Empirical Investigations: Qualitative Research Studies must include the SRQR checklist.

Finally, Case Reports and Simulation Scenarios will only be considered if they: 1) are especially noteworthy, and advance the science of healthcare simulation, and 2) include objective data demonstrating the case scenario has been implemented and evaluated.

The revised instructions will be posted in December. Compliance with the new instructions will be required for all submissions beginning in 2022.


It has been five years since I began serving as your Editor in Chief. In my inaugural issue, I the likened the Journal to a growing teenager.8 This year perhaps more than any other we have had some growing pains. We have faced challenges brought on by increased submissions, some turnover among our editorial staff, and some pandemic-induced reviewer fatigue. However, the Journal is maturing and is stronger than ever. Our 5-year JIF is at its highest level. We have become more selective about what we publish and have introduced some new submission criteria. We have also introduced new article formats and will soon add a new social media component. Yet, we continue to ask,“who are we” and “who do we want to be” and evolve in our efforts to best serve the healthcare simulation community of scholars.

I continue to be supported by an outstanding and talented team of editors, editorial board members, and reviewers who find and help shape the best scholarly work for our readers. I thank them for their dedication during these turbulent teen years. I also wish to thank the many authors who continue to choose Simulation in Healthcare as the venue for their work. As always, I invite all of you to send us your best work and volunteer to review manuscripts for our journal.


I would like to thank Jeff Cooper for his helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article.


1. Scerbo MW. Some exciting news and changes for the journal. Simul Healthc. 2018;13:303–305.
2. Gaba DM. A remarkable journal impact Factor for simulation in healthcare. Simul Healthc. 2011;6:313–315.
3. Neophytou J. Early access and the impact factor: Changes to the JCR. ( Retrieved October 15, 2021.
4. McVeigh M. Adding early access content to journal citation reports: choosing a prospective model. ( Retrieved October 15, 2021.
5. Thoma Brent, Brazil Victoria, Spurr J, et al. Establishing a virtual community of practice in simulation: The value of social media. Simul Healthc 2018;13:124–130.
6. Lopez M, Chan TM, Thoma B, Arora VM. The Social Media Editor at Medical Journals: Responsibilities, goals, barriers, and facilitators. Acad Med. 2019;94:701–707.
7. Scerbo MW. Simulation in Healthcare in the midst of the pandemic. Simul Healthc. 2020;15:373–374.
8. Scerbo MW. Simulation in Healthcare: Growin’ up. Simul Healthc. 2016;11:232–235.
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