Q&A: Editor-in-Chief Shares Vision for The Journal of Neuroscience
Dora Angelaki began her term as editor-in-chief of The Journal of Neuroscience in January. Angelaki is the Wilhelmina Robertson professor and chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She has served as a reviewing editor for eLife, The Journal of Neuroscience, and the Journal of Neurophysiology. She has chaired the SfN Program Committee and has served on the SfN Scientific Publications, Swartz Prize Selection, and Finance committees. Angelaki’s term runs through December 2019.
What is your vision for the future of JN and how will you achieve your goals?
Our vision is to maintain the excellence and breadth for which The Journal of Neuroscience is known, while simultaneously working to update certain aspects of the editorial process so that the journal can continue to shine in a very competitive environment in the future.
For the editorial process, we are implementing a few changes. We want our editors and reviewers more actively involved in both the initial editorial decision of whether a paper might belong in the journal and in the subsequent review process. If there is a discrepancy between the reviews, the reviewing editor and reviewers can consult with one another and come to a mutual decision as to whether the manuscript is appropriate for The Journal of Neuroscience and, if so, what major changes might be needed to improve the revised manuscript. We have also updated and expanded the reviewer form so that the reviewing editor can get a much more in-depth understanding of the paper before making a decision.
One of the biggest challenges for The Journal of Neuroscience, which is not shared by other journals in the field, is its unparalleled size — it publishes many more papers than other journals. As a result, these editorial changes can only occur through a series of strategic, well-planned steps. While executing these changes, we will ensure that the journal maintains its short review and publication times, as well as the superb breadth of neuroscience that it publishes.
How does JN maintain ethical integrity and scientific rigor in each of its research articles?
The chief way in which we ensure ethical integrity is through the efforts of our reviewers and our editors. We have expanded the requirements for what reviewers must provide to the reviewing editors about the quality of the paper, both experimental and statistical. We have also instructed our senior and reviewing editors to increase their level of alertness and attention on this critical topic.
Whenever there is a suspicion of misconduct relating to a paper, we ask the Society’s Ethics Committee to investigate. The committee of volunteer members ensures that SfN maintains the highest level of integrity in its scientific activities by overseeing and administering SfN’s ethics policies and procedures, including investigating cases or allegations of scientific misconduct and making recommendations for action as appropriate. We hope we can catch most of these incidents at the time of review, and every effort is being made in that direction. By making the editorial process more vigorous, we hope to be able to identify these problems before any paper gets through the system.
What do you think brings young researchers to JN?
This is both an opportunity and a challenge for the future. Most senior neuroscientists are already committed to the journal. We hope the younger generation also learns to trust and contribute to the journal. We are designing two new features that we hope will help us succeed in this.
One feature, Techsights, provides overviews of technical developments of wide relevance in neuroscience, including where we are with the technology now and where we want to go. These can describe new technological advances, ongoing efforts, or new techniques that have not yet been used outside the author’s own lab. Because we live in a time of very rapidly changing technology, Techsights will be able to keep our readers, particularly the younger generation, aware of all the ongoing technological developments.
The second feature, Dual Perspectives, consists of two short articles that describe complementary and/or opposite views on a subject matter or debate of broad interest in neuroscience, written by the major proponents of each view.
While the editors will generally solicit submissions for both of these new features, the invitation is open to everybody and we are very excited to receive suggestions. Authors wishing to contribute unsolicited submissions should contact us before preparing a manuscript.
In addition to these features, we plan on maintaining the successful journal clubs, which give young researchers (graduates and postdocs) a chance to comment on published papers, and the popular letters to editor.
What makes JN one of the most influential journals in the field?
The high impact of papers published, the quality and fairness of the review process, and the short time to publication make The Journal of Neuroscience one of the very best and certainly the most cited peer-reviewed journal in the field. The journal has both depth and tremendous breadth. People trust The Journal of Neuroscience. They trust it as authors, and they trust it as readers. We need to maintain this trust and improve upon it even further.
What are the benefits of publishing in JN?
By publishing in The Journal of Neuroscience, your research will be accessible to the broader neuroscience community, reflected by the publication’s strong and diverse readership. Our audience stretches across more than 140 countries, and our website received more than 33 million page views in 2014. Papers submitted to The Journal of Neuroscience receive fair and unbiased consideration by our distinguished scientist reviewers from around the world. We also boast fast review and publication times, with an average of 31 days from submission to first decision and an average of 46 days from acceptance to publication. We will be also working to publish online within the first two weeks of acceptance.