Time to Look Back and to Look Forward
It has been 2 years since the current editorial board accepted stewardship of the premier journal of the American Diabetes Association (ADA), Diabetes. We believe this is an appropriate time to reflect upon our past experiences and to share our vision for the coming 3 years with our readership.
The concept of a journal for the ADA was originally proposed by the first president of the ADA, Dr. Cecil Striker, in his Presidential lecture in 1941. Dr. Striker stated with reference to the publication of a journal, “We appreciate the fact that a plethora of scientific journals already exists, and I reluctantly present this question to our Association” (1). The journal finally came to fruition in 1952, replacing precedent publications of Proceedings of the American Diabetes Association (1941) and Diabetes Abstracts (1942).
In his “Salute to Diabetes” in the first issue of Diabetes, Dr. Elliott P. Joslin, honorary president of the ADA wrote that the association was “hitching its wagon to a very important star with its new Journal Diabetes” (2). He further stated “Diabetes is a universal disease. It knows no political boundaries. What happens anywhere in the world to improve the condition of the diabetic is important to diabetics everywhere else” (3). One of the main reasons for the founding of the ADA was to compile and disseminate state-of-the-art knowledge about this pervasive, multifaceted disease.
Today, in a situation reminiscent of what Dr. Striker faced in 1941, we are witnessing a plethora of journals dealing directly or indirectly with diabetes both in print and electronic formats, with new journals continually appearing. In the face of the dramatic multiplication of related journals, Diabetes continues to lead in the area of diabetes research, publishing original peer-reviewed articles on diabetes and related topics. The number of manuscripts submitted to the journal has increased nearly 50% since 2002, reaching 1,955 initial submissions in 2013 with a stable proportion of these being original articles (on average 83%). The print circulation for the journal is ∼4,000, in addition to the 2.3 million online visits last year alone. Diabetes is subscribed to and read internationally with selected translations distributed in Japanese and Chinese languages. Overall, the journal has fulfilled the goals of the founders.
To make editorial policies and processes transparent to our readership, I have outlined below our guiding principles and processes for making decisions on manuscripts submitted to the journal. As indicated in our first editorial in 2012, our overriding mission is to publish the most original and important scientific works with relevance to diabetes and related disorders. Although our main mission is to publish original articles, the journal also publishes state-of-the art perspectives and reviews of methodologies that can stimulate new research and help investigators choose the appropriate approaches in their research methods. We also have increased the number of commentaries on selected articles to assist the readership in understanding the significance and limitations of published articles.
After Diabetes Care branched off from Diabetes in 1978, Diabetes underwent a transformation into a journal publishing results from experimental studies in animals in vitro and in humans. Although cell-based in vitro studies form an integral part of many experiments involving animals and humans, exclusive cell line studies are usually not published unless they provide new discoveries or novel concepts. The priority of the journal is to publish mechanistic studies presenting important advances in the field. In the case of human studies, novel observations with potential high impact on understanding the pathophysiology or treatment of diabetes remain of great interest—provided sound experimental approaches are used.
Purely observational studies not accompanied by experimental data that generate mechanistic insights are not a high priority for Diabetes. We have substantial numbers of articles in genetics and large-scale studies involving epidemiology, genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics published in the journal. Such studies may not always provide underlying mechanisms but advance the field and may form the basis of new hypotheses.
Among the original manuscripts submitted, nearly 44% are triaged following internal editorial review prior to sending them to external reviewers. In the end, approximately 18% of the submissions are accepted after the peer-review process.
There is a natural desire among investigators to publish in high-impact journals. A journal’s impact factor—which is the basis of the “top-tier” designation—is a measure of how often its articles are cited, and signifies an index of quality of the articles published in the journal. There is an ongoing and heated debate over the ranking of journals by impact factor and the true value of publishing in so-called top-tier journals. We also care about the impact factor of Diabetes because investigators would naturally like to publish their best articles in high-impact journals. While the editors of Diabetes would be delighted if those articles published in the journal are frequently cited, our primary objective is to publish the best science; hence, we accept manuscripts based on their scientific quality and not their citation potential. We believe that in the long term the best science creates the highest impact when it advances the cause of curing diabetes.
Diabetes has maintained and continues to enhance the quality of scientific publications thanks to the dedication of the 12 successive editorial boards that have served since its inception, the altruism of its peer reviewers, and the quality of scientific research in the field. From the beginning, the journal has enjoyed complete editorial autonomy and intellectual freedom that was assured by the leadership of the ADA. This tradition continues to ensure that the best science is published based on a combination of expert peer review and editorial judgment. We appreciate that peer review, which is meant to identify methodological flaws and other mistakes, may not always do so. Despite having many limitations, peer review is the best available process for selecting the highest quality manuscripts. In the absence of better alternatives, we, like other similar journals, continue to apply this process prior to our acceptance of submitted manuscripts. Looking to the future we are excited to continue to edit this remarkable journal on behalf of the ADA. We continue to work with the reviewers and editorial staff to improve the quality of Diabetes. As always, we welcome any suggestions from our readers and reviewers.
- © 2014 by the American Diabetes Association.
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