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Circulation on the Run

Dec 23, 2019

Dr Amit Khera: I'm Amit Khera, I'm digital strategies editor for Circulation and I'm standing in this week for Carolyn Lam and Greg Hunley. And I'm also doing the Circulation on the Run podcast, as well as Discover CircRes podcast with our two editors in chief.
This is Jane Freedman, who recently took over as editor-in-chief of Circulation Research, and Joseph Hill, who is the editor-in-chief of Circulation. So, welcome you both. We're excited to do this.
Dr Joseph Hill: Thank you.
Dr Jane Freedman: Thank you.
Dr Amit Khera: The idea behind this, there's this session here at sessions where we're learning a little bit about Circulation Research and Circulation, pulling back the cover, if you will, and seeing behind the cloak, as what happens in the Journal. So, Dr Freedman, I'll start with you. Tell me a little bit about, as the incoming editor of Circulation Research, some of your vision for the Journal, which you're excited about.
Dr Jane Freedman: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, I'm thrilled to be the new editor of Circulation Research. And I've assembled a fabulous team of associate editors, deputy editors and other staff and support, that are going to continue to grow what's already a wonderful journal, to be the preeminent and primary journal for basic and translational cardiovascular sciences. And also support and interact with the other HA family of Journals.
Dr Amit Khera: So obviously that starts with a great team. And it sounds like you've assembled that. Anything new that you're thinking about, and sort of the redesign of Circ Research in your term?
Dr Jane Freedman: Sure. So, we're hoping to expand the original scientific content, so we can have a larger number of articles in original science. And we can have the pages to be able to handle other areas of basic cardiovascular science to include new areas, emerging areas, things like that. We're also increasing some of our early career initiatives, so that's very important to us as well.
Dr Amit Khera: Fantastic. Fantastic. Can you talk about expanding for science? And Joe, that leads to you. I'm going to, in this session tomorrow, one of the goals is when people submit their science, it really goes into a black box and people don't know what happens on the editorial level. Can you maybe enlighten us a little, what happened?
Dr Joseph Hill: Jane and I have been friends for 20 or more years and we now have established a bi-directional, mutually synergistic collaboration where we send papers each way. We have distinct missions, but yet with significant overlap. And I think it's an incredibly exciting time for the entire portfolio of AHA Journals. So as you
say, most people that you hit send and you wait four to six weeks, and you
either get a happy note or an unhappy note.
And, what happens at both our Journals is we have a strategy of multiple
touches on every paper. The paper that first comes in, is first touched by a
senior editor, either myself or James de Lemos, and two or three others. And we
will reject without review, about 50% of the papers at that point. We publish six
papers a week, but we get 110 a week. So we don't need to review 50 of them
to pick the top six.
Out of respect to our authors to save them time, out of respect to our reviewers
who devote tremendous effort to reviewing papers, we don't send them papers
that we don't think have a shot. That said, if a paper makes it past that first
stage, there's about a 50% chance it'll get published either in our Journal, or in
one of the subspecialty journals. Probably a 50-50 chance it'll be published
somewhere in an AHA family Journal.
So if it makes it past that stage, we send it to an associate editor, of which you
are one. And we have about 50 of them. A third are in Dallas, another third are
in the U.S. outside of Dallas, and another third are in countries around the
world, 17 different countries. And that person will probably reject without
review, another five or 10% maybe. But he or she will dig into that paper, and in
parallel send it out to two or sometimes three reviewers, who are trusted and
valued advisors.
They help that associate editor make a strong recommendation. He or she
makes a decision to bring to the larger group, that is informed by those
reviewers. So already that paper has been touched by five different
investigators. Typically, that associate editor will reach out electronically within
his or her affinity group. We have an affinity group in epidemiology, heart
failure, intervention, basic science.
Asking other AEs, "Could you take a look at this paper? One reviewer said this,
one said that, I'm sort of thinking this." And then we'll have a conversation on
our weekly video conference, and then a decision goes out to the authors. So
every paper is touched by at least five, and sometimes 10 different editors and
reviewers, which we have found has been a powerful way to really dig into and
identify things that one or two people might have missed.
Dr Amit Khera: One thing I note here is, if you realize how many people touch these articles, yet
how efficient and how fast this process is, then that's a testament to sort of, the
goals of the Journal, to be really responsive and rapid for our authors. One big
part of that, and come back to Dr Freedman is peer review, right? So, associate
editors have a lot of work, and were affinity groups and so forth, but really
critical are these peer reviewers. And in the modern era, we're all so busy. Tell
us a little bit about the value of peer review, and how we enhance the value to
the peer reviewers themselves.
Dr Jane Freedman: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, just as you said, the peer reviewers are absolutely
central, valued and vital parts of making the Journal run correctly. And we, like
Circulation, our associate editors send them out to three different peer
reviewers, and they have a very fixed amount of time to review the articles, and
they provide these wonderful comments.
We also very heavily rely on our editorial board. They know the drill, that it
needs to be back within a fixed amount of time. And for the most part, they do
it. It's an interesting question, "What's the value to them?" I've been a reviewer
too. It's part of your pay back. It's part of educating yourself about what's new
and interesting. There's a lot of reasons for doing it. People enjoy being on the
editorial board and interacting with the Journal. But fundamentally, as an
editor, you're incredibly grateful to your reviewers. They are the unsung heroes
of making a Journal work.
Dr Amit Khera: You mentioned sending out to three, when you have sort of disparate reviews.
It's amazing when some people love it and some people hate it.
Dr Jane Freedman: Yeah.
Dr Amit Khera: How do you handle that?
Dr Jane Freedman: Yeah, well, sometimes it's apparent from the reviews why that happened.
Someone may have focused on something, that the editorial group thinks is less
important. Or they have focused on something that's addressable. The other
thing we do, similar to Joe, is we have a video conference call every single week
on Wednesdays, and that's a period where people can vet any concerns or
questions. And then my editors, my associate and deputy editors know we have
an open communication at all times. So I very frequently, when they have
questions about reviews and how to reconcile disparate reviews, we'll have an
ongoing conversation about that.
Dr Amit Khera: It sounds like, of course you're actively engaged in how this is a dynamic
process. I'll mention one thing, is digital strategies editor and I know both at Circ
Research and Circulation. We're always thinking, "How do we bring these
articles to life? How do we have the most people read them or engage with
them?" And one is traditional social media. So Twitter and Facebook, which is
incredibly important. Podcast, you have a monthly podcast.
Dr Jane Freedman: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr Amit Khera: We have a weekly podcast and really hope that people listen to them because
they're really full of important information. And finally, I think what people
don't appreciate is the media. So we work with the AHA media. Some of our top
stories get over a million media impressions, go all around the world and there's
Professional Heart Daily. So, there's so many ways that we're bringing articles to
life. Joe, I'm going to finish with you. This is a Circ family. The value of having a
family of Journals and how we keep cohesion, and for authors when they're
submitting to sort of a family of Journals, what's the value and how does that
Dr Joseph Hill: Well, there has been complete turnover of all the editors in chief in the entire
family of Journals, of which there are 12. And we are all quite similar in our
personalities, and in our perspectives on the importance, the ultimate
importance of validity. The first question we ask, "Is this true?" If it's not, it's
gone. It doesn't get referred. We reject it. Even if it's going to be on the front
page of the New York Times and cited 10,000 times. And all of us hold ourselves
to that same standard. So our vectors are all pointed in the same direction. We
also care about impact, not impact factor. But does it change the way you think?
Does it matter? Is it incremental, or does it really move the needle?
So we are now in a situation, I think a wonderful situation where we all sink or
swim together. We send papers all around, as you know very well. We send
papers to the subspecialty journals. We send 20 or 30 a week, on an
extraordinarily regular basis. And we send papers horizontally to Circ Research,
or Hypertension, or Stroke and so forth. So, it is a syncytium now I would say, of
a family of journals where we are all looking out for each other. Jane cares
about our Journal and we care about her Journal. And that's really a wonderful
situation to be in.
Dr Amit Khera: Well thanks. That family and how this fluidity of articles and thought and
exchanges, is really part of the value. And ultimately the goal is for a great paper
to find a great home. And I think in this Circ family we do that.
Thank you very much. It's been a wonderful podcast. Again, I'm Amit Khera,
digital strategies editor sitting in for Carolyn Lam and Greg Hundley for
Circulation on the Run, as well as for Discover CircRes. Thank you.
Dr Carolyn Lam: This program is copyright American Heart Association 2019.