American Journal of Audiology Enters a New Era As the American Journal of Audiology (AJA) enters its third decade, it has reached a milestone: the release of its first-ever Impact Factor—0.867. AJA began publication in 1991 as one of ASHA’s new clinical practice journals. Over time, as scientific journals publish more and more high “impact” research, those articles ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   July 01, 2012
American Journal of Audiology Enters a New Era
Author Notes
  • Larry E. Humes, PhD, CCC-A, is a distinguished professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at Indiana University. Contact him at humes@indiana.edu.
    Larry E. Humes, PhD, CCC-A, is a distinguished professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at Indiana University. Contact him at humes@indiana.edu.×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   July 01, 2012
American Journal of Audiology Enters a New Era
The ASHA Leader, July 2012, Vol. 17, 52-53. doi:10.1044/leader.AN3.17092012.52
The ASHA Leader, July 2012, Vol. 17, 52-53. doi:10.1044/leader.AN3.17092012.52
As the American Journal of Audiology (AJA) enters its third decade, it has reached a milestone: the release of its first-ever Impact Factor—0.867. AJA began publication in 1991 as one of ASHA’s new clinical practice journals. Over time, as scientific journals publish more and more high “impact” research, those articles are then cited in future publications. That number of citations across the total number of articles published over a multiyear span leads to an impact factor, which is considered one of the primary measures of the importance of a scholarly journal. To put this first-ever value for AJA in perspective, impact factors for similar journals in audiology for the same period range from about 1.3 to 2.8. So, there is room for improvement, and the hope is that AJA will be more competitive in this cohort of audiology journals in the future.
It should be kept in mind, however, that the impact factor measures scholarly or scientific impact of a journal’s articles via citations of those works by others in subsequent publications and years. This measure is completely separate from any measure of “clinical impact” for practicing audiologists, for which there is no standardized metric.
In preparing for this new role as AJA editor and thinking about today’s challenges confronting AJA, as well as many other journals serving the discipline and the professions, I kept coming back to the importance of the timely dissemination of clinical research to audiologists. AJA was the first of ASHA’s scholarly journals to be offered online, and this focus on the timeliness of the distribution of information to clinicians and clinical researchers builds on AJA’s legacy as a pioneering journal in the field.
Timely Reviewing
One of the most time-consuming aspects of the peer-review process is securing good reviews in a timely fashion—a challenge that appears to result from a seemingly dwindling pool of qualified and available prospective reviewers, together with an expanding number of journals serving the field. Securing reviewers takes time, and it is not unusual for reviewers to request additional time at the 11th hour. The conventional model at AJA—and many other professional journals in audiology—was for the assigned associate editor to make a recommendation to the editor on the basis of the associate editor’s reading of the manuscript and the completed reviews—adding more time to the review process. Finally, with the associate editor’s recommendation and the reviews in hand, the editor needed to make a decision and communicate this to the authors; again, adding time to the review process.
To put this schedule in perspective, based on the most recent data available (2011) on the AJA website, two to four months were required for about 70% of the manuscripts to be processed from the original submission to the initial decision by the editor, with most of the remaining 30% processed in less than two months. This information is not intended to be critical of the AJA editorial board or reviewers hard at work in 2010. This timeline has been fairly typical for this editorial model over the past decade or so.
Based on published articles in AJA in 2011, 13 manuscripts were resubmitted after revision, and the median time required from receipt of the revised manuscript to acceptance of the manuscript for publication in AJA in 2011 was 5.6 months. Finally, once accepted, the manuscript is processed by ASHA publication staff, the draft is made available immediately as a Papers in Press, and the work is prepared for publication. All told, many months may lapse from the initial submission of the manuscript to publication online.
With this background in mind and with the ASHA Publication Board’s approval, AJA is experimenting with a different, editorial-board model during my three-year term as editor. The vast majority of the reviews will be performed by two qualified experts on the board, which has 12 associate editors to better distribute the peer-review workload. We’ve tried to target a broad range of expertise across these editors, but, should we need it, we will seek peer expertise outside the editorial board.
Each associate editor has agreed to provide a review of assigned manuscripts within two weeks of receipt of the manuscript. As editor, I also read the manuscripts and, once the reviews have been received, will make an editorial decision within two weeks.
Thus, assuming the associate editors and I meet our deadlines, the maximum time from initial submission to editor’s decision should be four weeks. Associate editors are appointed annually in this model, and either party, the associate editor or the editor, may terminate this appointment at year’s end.
With regard to revised manuscripts, as editor, the default is for me to review the revision and the detailed response of the author(s) to the suggestions for improving the original submission and to make a decision regarding the need for an additional round of reviews.
If I believe the authors have addressed the original concerns and it is apparent that additional concerns did not emerge in the revision process, then the revised manuscript will most likely not go out for another round of reviews.
Streamlined Critiquing
We’ve also attempted to minimize the burden to the associate editors by streamlining the process of preparing the review. We are piloting a review template patterned, to some extent, after the peer-review templates adopted recently by the National Institutes of Health for streamlining the grant-review process. In particular, strengths and weaknesses in each of the following five areas are identified by the reviewers:
  • Significance: Does the manuscript address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in audiology? What is the likely impact of this manuscript on clinical practice, concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventive interventions in audiology?

  • Justification/Rationale: Is the study well motivated and appropriately grounded in theory, prior literature, or both?

  • Approach: Are the overall strategy, methodology, research design, and data analyses well reasoned and appropriate?

  • Results/Findings: Are the results or findings presented appropriately, clearly, and succinctly? Where appropriate, have effect sizes been presented in addition to other descriptive statistics?

  • Discussion/Conclusions: Are the results or findings related to the previous literature, existing models, or theories? Where applicable, have the clinical implications of the results or findings been discussed appropriately? Are study limitations acknowledged?

In addition to listing strengths and weaknesses in each of these five areas, a brief paragraph is provided that summarizes the overall impression of the manuscript, drawing on the strengths and weaknesses noted above.
The outcome from this experiment won’t be known for several months or even a few years. It is hoped, however, that the end result will be the timely dissemination of clinical research and information without compromising the quality of the product published. This, in turn, may lead to an increased impact factor among the community of scholars.
JSLHR Plans Apraxia of Speech Supplement

The October issue of the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research (JSLHR) will feature a special supplement on apraxia of speech (AOS).

The past several decades have seen changes in the theoretical and clinical understanding of AOS that have been well documented in research papers, book chap-tens, and review articles. Only a few attempts, however, have been made to consolidate the diverging lines of thought that have emerged.

A satellite workshop that coincided with the sixth International Conference on Speech Motor Control convened in June 2011 in the Netherlands to encourage a forthright exchange of opinions about the current state of research on AOS—its definition, underlying mechanisms, salient features, and differential diagnosis—and to highlight new achievements, areas of consensus, and points of disagreement.

The workshop featured presentations by internationally renowned researchers from several countries. Many of these presentations have been developed into papers that will be included in a special JSLHR supplement.

Check your e-TOC for JSLHR in early October to access these important additions to the understanding of AOS. This supplement will also be available as a custom-printed ASHA Reader. For more details on ASHA Readers, visit http://journals.asha.org/misc/readers.dtl.

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July 2012
Volume 17, Issue 9