During the tenure of my predecessor, Larry Dorr, and throughout my 40 years as Editor-in-Chief, the structure of Techniques in Orthopaedics (TIO) has remained constant. It has featured a quarterly topic-focused symposium followed by unsolicited articles. We made several changes in format, but the symposium has continued to be a central part.
In recent years, we have made several changes to strengthen the journal, such as developing an active editorial board with subspecialty associate editors, editorial board members, and reviewers. They have provided excellent, rigorous peer review that has vastly improved the quality of the publication. We have expanded the article types and began accepting more unsolicited papers within the Special Technical Articles, Tips and Pearls, and Novel Research Methods sections. The scope of the journal was expanded, reflected in the new cover design, and tag line “Transitional and Surgical Techniques.” The journal made the transitions successfully from print alone to hybrid-prit and electronic to exclusively digital, increasing accessibility to TIO. Traffic on the website has grown steadily with increasing unique hits, and Ovid usage has blossomed. TIO has also developed a robust social media presence, with posts of key articles by the publisher and unique infographics produced regularly by our social media associate editor and his team.
While some of the symposium topics and guest editors have been recommended by the readers or associate editors, the majority have been selected and recruited by the Editor-in-Chief. I have sought to differentiate the journal and provide unique contributions to the literature by selecting topics that are not routinely covered by other journals. Several years ago, we began requiring each symposium to finish with an article that discussed the health policy, regulatory, ethical, financial, and business implications of the topic. These have been very comprehensive, well written, and have added to journal uniqueness.
Although these improvements have led to increased submissions, growing website traffic, and expanded international reach, TIO has several milestones to cross.
In response to an internal review by a knowledgeable consultant to reflect on the status of TIO, we changed the Instructions for Authors (IFA) in January 2019 to be more consistent and reflect the style of the journal we envision. To enforce these changes, submissions are checked for adherence to more stringent requirements before sending out for review.
The number of unsolicited submissions and limitations of pages after symposia has led to a large backlog and extended publication delays. To help reduce the backlog and time to publication for our authors and readers, we published 2 issues in 2021 that were composed of unsolicited papers without any symposium.
These symposium-free issues provided an inadvertent experiment. During this year, the website traffic grew. Associate editors continued stringent peer review and increased rejections. The acceptance rate of unsolicited papers was 55%. The continued success of publishing unsolicited manuscripts led the publishing team to decide it was time for a major structural change to reduce the number of symposia from 4 to 1 per year and shift the journal composition to primarily unsolicited content.
For the once-a-year symposium, I am thinking that instead of the traditional topic focus, we should switch to a collection of papers highlighting the most significant hot new technologic, scientific, surgical trends in orthopaedics. I would reach out to the associate editors for advice on their subspecialties, including selection of topics and recommendations for authors. This could include one or more of the health policy, regulatory, ethical, financial, business articles.
While many of our milestones, such as obtaining Index Medicus approval, are difficult goal to achieve, we remain committed to TIO and will continue to mold the journal into a premier publication.
At this juncture, I salute the many guest editors who have created wonderful symposia for years by recruiting outstanding contributing authors that have covered a wide variety of topics in depth.