ASHA’s Scholarly Journals: The Latest and Best Research at Your Fingertips-Literally For a researcher or clinician, for the practitioner in the schools, in hospitals, or in private practice, and for the student, ASHA’s four scholarly journals have more to offer than ever-and in more ways. The journals, with content covering the full range of clinical practice and basic research, using a ... Features
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Features  |   September 01, 2004
ASHA’s Scholarly Journals: The Latest and Best Research at Your Fingertips-Literally
Author Notes
  • Ellen Caswell, is journals editor and desktop publisher for ASHA. Contact her at ecaswell@asha.org.
    Ellen Caswell, is journals editor and desktop publisher for ASHA. Contact her at ecaswell@asha.org.×
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ASHA News & Member Stories / Features
Features   |   September 01, 2004
ASHA’s Scholarly Journals: The Latest and Best Research at Your Fingertips-Literally
The ASHA Leader, September 2004, Vol. 9, 4-21. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR2.09162004.4
The ASHA Leader, September 2004, Vol. 9, 4-21. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR2.09162004.4
For a researcher or clinician, for the practitioner in the schools, in hospitals, or in private practice, and for the student, ASHA’s four scholarly journals have more to offer than ever-and in more ways.
The journals, with content covering the full range of clinical practice and basic research, using a broad range of formats-research articles, tutorials, and features-are indexed through the National Library of Medicine’s MEDLINE, a significant honor in itself. Members, who now have full access to all our recently published articles, will soon be able to obtain articles going back to 1990. ASHA will soon offer online journal articles to nonmembers via e-commerce.
Continuing education credit offers another journal benefit, and is an aspect of the journals that continues to expand. One recently launched initiative, for example, offers CEUs to authors of accepted journal articles.
The nature of scientific publishing is that over the history of a particular journal, the quality of the articles published builds the journal’s reputation. That reputation then has an effect on the number and quality of submissions of articles for publication. It’s a process that over time allows a journal to become more selective as it publishes the best content by the brightest minds in the field.
ASHA’s journals have benefited from just such a process. Their history and reputation have led to them being a highly regarded and sought-after venue for publication. This is borne out not just by submission and acceptance rates but also by the number of annual citations as tracked by the Institute for Scientific Information.
As Kim Wilcox, past Publications Board member, says, “Our journals rank among the most respected sources of information on communication processes and disorders in the world.”
Rich History, Current Value
ASHA’s four journals publish original research to meet the needs of professionals employed in a wide range of settings as well as the needs of students through the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association. The journal publication program follows:
  • JSLHR (Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research) is ASHA’s oldest, largest, and best-known journal and publishes research on the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of communication disorders. A bimonthly, JSLHR arose from two earlier publications-the Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders (1935) and the Journal of Speech and Hearing Research (1958).

  • LSHSS (Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools) has a strong clinical focus and publishes many continuing education products. Published quarterly, LSHSS began life as Speech and Hearing Services in Schools in 1970 to answer the need of the large number of ASHA members who work in school settings.

  • AJA (American Journal of Audiology) publishes articles on a broad range of professional and clinical issues, including screening, assessment, and treatment techniques; supervision; administration; and case studies. Published twice a year in print and online on a rolling basis, AJA was created in 1991 as a clinical practice journal to meet the specific needs of practicing audiologists.

  • AJSLP (American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology), the most widely circulated speech-related journal, publishes clinical research and features with a clinical focus. A quarterly, AJSLP addresses professional issues as well as all aspects of clinical practice.

Ray D. Kent, ASHA’s vice president of research and technology, offers $4.30 as a unique way of framing the relationship of value to cost when considering ASHA’s journals as a member benefit. In the broader context of the journals program’s history, the value becomes even clearer.
A scholarly publishing program was considered important from the Association’s creation in 1925. ASHA’s founders shared a common interest in improving the lives of those with communication difficulties. As a first step, they established a scholarly journal program, ensuring that the field of communication sciences and disorders would have a sound scientific base. As the knowledge base expands, the insights of research in communication disorders are integrated into the larger world of human physiology and behavior, just as research in those areas can raise new questions for researchers in our discipline.
From Research to Publication
The creation and dissemination of knowledge is a collaborative endeavor. “The journal that arrives in your mailbox represents three complementary efforts: research production, peer review, and publication,” Wilcox said.
The research manuscripts are submitted to journals and given rigorous and independent review-a process that can span the globe. “The editors and their staffs work with scientists around the world,” says Wilcox, noting that the online manuscript review and revision process has aided international collaboration.
Peer review ensures a critical review of current research in communication disorders, particularly important in the electronic era.
“The real criterion for whether something is a good source is the peer review process,” says AJA editor Robert F. Burkard. “If it didn’t go through peer review, it could be brilliant or it could be absolute nonsense.”
The production process follows acceptance. After careful review, those articles considered appropriate in topic and quality are recommended for publication. National Office staff then copyedit, lay out, and publish the article; the final product is delivered to subscribers and/or posted online.
Why We Publish
Ray D. Kent considers the research base critical to the professional standing of communication disorders. “A field that builds its own research base has taken a big step toward controlling its own destiny,” he says. “Our research helps authenticate our professional services. Research of high quality establishes our commitment to provide a sure foundation for clinical services.”
He adds that current research has tangible-and immediate-value. “The journals feed my need to know what is happening on the research front across a variety of topics. I learn the what, the how, and the who-what are the research questions, how is the research being conducted, and who is doing the work?”
Today’s journals speak to many audiences-researchers and clinicians in communication disorders, scientists in related disciplines, and in the Internet age an increasing number of consumers.
Of the journals, JSLHR publishes a higher proportion of basic research on both normal communication and communication disorders, but the information also has clinical value. “Even what we sometimes regard as ‘basic’ research can turn out to be pre-clinical research in that the discoveries can point the way to interesting and important clinical applications,” Kent says.
He sees a direct clinical relevance in articles pertaining to the nature of a disorder, its assessment, and/or its treatment.” As we move toward evidence-based practice, our journals will be in the forefront in providing the information needed to consider levels of evidence. Three of our journals pertain especially to clinical practice -which a quick look at the contents will confirm.”
Marc Fey, chair of the Publications Board, agrees. “There’s certainly room in the clinical journals for someone to give their far-reaching views on where the basic research they’re doing now will end up clinically. In fact, many studies that target the efficacy of our interventions are really designed to address basic research issues. With the current emphasis on evidence-based practice, I think we’ll see more and more clinical questions being addressed with experimental methods.”
Burkard would like to see our journals expand coverage of related fields. “What makes it clinical is the question, not the technique,” he says. “I would like to have a journal that welcomes more basic science, including animal research and acoustics. It’s important that, as a professional organization, we participate in the creation and dissemination of the knowledge in our field. If we don’t, if the members don’t provide us the raw materials to publish, then we’re failing our membership as an organization and ultimately we’ll all be out of jobs.”
Professional Development
With the requirements of licensure and the coming need for CEUs for certification, continuing education products are increasing in importance, and ASHA’s journals offer members a new way to build their professional skills.
Fey noted the advancements in this area. “Continuing education is an important part of the journals program,” he said. “Members have responded positively to the forums that have appeared in LSHSS, and we’re currently expanding that with the Scientific and Professional Education Board to provide more diverse offerings to a broader audience of readers.
“With focus on evidence as it relates directly to clinical matters, I think we’ll see an increasing number of articles that do address issues that clinicians see as most important to their practice,” he said.
ASHA’s expanding Learn & Earn initiative includes Journal Study Groups, where members stay abreast of new developments by reading and discussing journal articles for CE credit.
The Journals Online
ASHA’s Web site makes the journals more accessible, and more improvements are on the way.
Web Access
In addition to access to all titles, authors, and abstracts, members have access to HTML and PDF versions of all articles for the most recent three years. Multimedia is being added, such as including audio or video files as part of an article; and the linking to articles is increasing; for example, the Literacy Gateway on ASHA’s Web site links members to the original journal articles they discuss.
E-Archives and E-Commerce
Burkard believes Publications Board plans for online access are “absolutely brilliant. Going back and putting the journals into the archive in electronic format will really enhance the accessibility for our students and for other members.”
The Internet’s ability to link will be further enhanced. When ASHA’s e-commerce system is launched, links from MEDLINE’s entry on an article will be added to the article itself. Cross-referencing by adding links to an article’s references is also in the works.
Future Plans
ASHA plans a significant online enhancement-possibly a dedicated Web site-for researchers and scientists. And the Publications Board is discussing the possibility of going completely online. Burkard sees this as a forward-thinking initiative. “Going to a purely electronic format of the journal somewhere down the road, let’s say in the next decade, has to happen. We’re all resource-limited, and I think sage use of the electronic media can really be an opportunity for cost effectively getting people involved in scholarly activities in ways that are creative and allow near-real-time feedback.”
From its innovative beginnings to an expanding online presence, the scholarly publication program continues to build value for members. “ASHA journals are an important resource for scholars and clinicians, and a way to control our own destiny,” says Kent.
“As a vital part of gaining understanding of communication and its disorders and an ever-expanding Internet presence, our journals are an essential part of the ASHA experience.”
Beginnings of AJSLP and AJA

When I first came to ASHA in 1993, I was privileged to work on the then-new clinical practice journals. I asked inaugural editors Marilyn Newhoff (AJSLP) and Robert G. Turner (AJA) to tell me about the launch.

Marilyn Newhoff

Starting a new journal had a lot of fun challenges-Bob Turner and I were given complete rein. We enjoyed collaborating on formats and features. AJSLP included some new areas like supervision, augmentative communication, and computer technology, in addition to the more traditional arenas. I brought on major hitters as the original associate editors and they deserve a lot of credit for the development of AJSLP. Kevin Kearns and I decided on the green and blue because we thought that these colors represented scholarship and intellectual pursuit. And I wanted art on the cover with an underlying theme of communication. The first volume had photos of bronze sculpture; the next year the paintings communicated in an abstract form. We had a year to prepare and came out with our first edition in the fall of 1991. We ended my editorship with the Clinical Aphasiology Conference supplement, which brought neurogenic communication disorders to one of the largest ASHA readerships ever. AJSLP was a wonderful success story and it seemed to meet the need of our readership. I hope that I have found a variety of ways to contribute to our discipline, but I take tremendous pride in the success of AJSLP.

Robert G. Turner

What really appealed to me is that it was a brand new journal and I would have a chance to create something out of nothing. I looked at professional magazines outside of audiology, and I thought, what made them interesting? Following PC Magazine, I created features for AJA. We were able to publish material of interest to audiologists that didn’t fit the format of more traditional journals, and we had feature editors to go out and find material. I liked being involved in the layout. I decided the cover picture should be a window into the journal-taking a figure from an article, creating a design from it, and then putting it on the cover. [Note: A recent AJA cover won artist Joyce Mulcahy of ASHA’s Graphics division an award from the Society of National Association Publications. The red, white, and blue color scheme was mine too; I like flag colors, and I wanted a journal that would stand out on the shelf. I loved doing it. Marilyn and I worked together very well, and the publications were real brother-sister journals.

-Ellen Caswell

A Wealth of Knowledge for $4.30

What will $4.30 buy these days? Perhaps a large cup of gourmet coffee to start your day, or a movie ticket at one of the economy theaters, or a pair of socks. But, in 2003, $4.30 was also the net cost per individual member for ASHA’s scholarly journals.

This may be surprising, but it is understandable when we consider that ASHA receives subscription income from institutions (mostly libraries) and from individuals who are not members of the association. This income offsets the cost of journals to ASHA members. Today, for less than $5, an ASHA member has searchable online access to four journals: the American Journal of Audiology; American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology; Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research; and Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools.

However, low cost is only part of the story. The Publications Board, Council of Editors, and Publications Office have worked over the years to make a number of improvements that enhance the value of our journals. Here are just a few of the improvements over the last 25 years:

  • increasing journal page size to 8 1/2 by 11 inches

  • switching to acid-free paper (to resist oxygenation and consequent yellowing of paper)

  • creating two new clinical practice journals, one for audiology and one for speech-language pathology

  • providing for online submission of manuscripts and reviews through Manuscript Central (reducing costs and delays associated with materials sent through regular mail)

  • making scholarly journals available online back to 1990

  • providing online search for scholarly journals back to 1990. (Have you tried it? If not, please do, and let us know how it worked so we can improve our search engine)

The improvements are considerable and greatly enhance the journals’ value. What does the future hold?

One possibility is that hard-copy journals will be phased out. Why? First, because most readers will appreciate the convenience of searchable online journals (print a hard copy if you need it; otherwise, save some trees). Second, because mailing costs are a substantial and largely uncontrollable cost of making journals available to ASHA members. Third, because if you’ve collected hard-copy journals as long as I have, you may find that there is little room in your office for anything but journals. The phasing out of hard copy is not imminent, but it is under discussion by the Publications Board as a future direction.

—Ray D. Kent,

ASHA Vice President for Research and Technology

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September 2004
Volume 9, Issue 16