Beginning in January 1999, a new team of editors, editorial board members, and staff assumed the leadership of Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Our primary goal was to build on the heritage of this venerable journal and increase the journal's quality and scope of influence to “promote the advancement of clinical medicine that results from integrated progress in medical practice, research, and education.”
1We daily reminded ourselves that this journal and all other high-quality medical journals function best when they focus on optimally serving authors and readers and (ultimately) their patients. With these concepts as our compass, we embarked on a journey to improve the Proceedings.
- Lanier WL
Leading Mayo Clinic Proceedings into the future.
Mayo Clin Proc. 1999; 74: 104
We recognized that the above-mentioned objectives demanded that we provide our readers the highest-quality material possible, targeted specifically to their needs. To make this happen, it was necessary to obtain more manuscripts and be more selective in those that we ultimately published. None of these changes would occur without first making the journal more appealing to authors. To accomplish this, we expanded and reorganized our staff and editorial board, improved communications technology, and made other changes to make our operation more responsive to authors, both during the evaluation of manuscripts and after manuscripts had been accepted for publication. I am pleased to report that these initiatives have resulted in the desired response from authors. During this 2-year restructuring period, we have experienced an overall 58% increase in the number of submissions, and the number of full-length, original manuscripts submitted has increased by 70%. Despite this increase in traffic (51% of which now originates from authors not affiliated with Mayo Clinic), we have reduced the time from initial receipt of manuscripts (here defined as any material other than letters or editorials) to issuance of a first decision to authors by 39%. Further, we have reduced the time from final acceptance of manuscripts to date of publication by 56%.
To ensure that we continue this practice of efficiently processing and publishing manuscripts in the face of an ever-growing number of submissions, the journal has fine-tuned the makeup of its editorial board. In our organizational structure, editorial board members are responsible for a variety of tasks, including providing initial manuscript review, selecting reviewers, assisting in the evaluation of critiques from those reviewers, and offering advice to both authors and the Editor-in-Chief. In 2000 and again in 2001, we have increased the total number of board members. We have used the additional positions to make sure that the board is better able to address manuscripts related to heart disease, cancer, and stroke (the 3 leading causes of mortality in the United States), as well as other high-interest, high-traffic areas. In some instances, we have added “redundant coverage” for given areas of research, to increase the likelihood that a specialty-related board member is always available to assist authors and reviewers. This change will also help ensure that our editorial board members will more optimally address major subspecialty areas. The philosophy behind the editorial board reorganization has also influenced the makeup of the board's leadership. Beginning this month, Dr William Tremaine will become Associate Editor, joining Drs Scott Litin and Lorraine Fitzpatrick in this role. Like them, he will have specific areas of responsibility and also will help provide Editor-in-Chief coverage during my absences.
The number of “editorial” (ie, nonadvertising) pages within each issue of the Proceedings has not meaningfully changed during the past 2 years. When determining which manuscripts would and would not be published, we have used this period of growth to better select manuscripts of relevance to our general/internal medicine audience. Of the manuscripts selected for publication, we have asked authors to use the journal pages more efficiently than in the past. The net result of these changes is that each issue now contains a greater diversity of valuable information for our readers, and the acceptance rate for submitted manuscripts has not changed in exact inverse proportion to the increase in submissions. In the future, we will continue to be more selective in the materials we accept. However, if increases in the submission of high-quality manuscripts continue, so that we need to accept more material than can be accommodated in the existing journal's size, we have made arrangements to expand the size of the journal in 2001.
The growth of the journal in this era of electronic communications has forced us to rethink the makeup of our “audience.” In contrast to years past in which the audience was almost exclusively physicians and other health care professionals, our audience of 2001 includes large numbers of patients, their families, and others who do not deliver medical care. We have made changes to address their needs as well. On November 1, 2000, we introduced an improved Web site, reorganized to permit better access to information and accommodate future growth. (The new Web site can be reached at www.mayo.edu/proceedings). Within the new Web site, we have continued our policy of displaying full-text versions of all featured articles and all editorials. These are available to interested readers on the same day they are available to the media, shortly after the journal arrives in subscribers’ mailboxes each month. This policy will continue into 2001. However, beginning in March 2001, we will release the remainder of each issue's content to our Web site, after a delay of some additional weeks following the release of featured articles and editorials. We will begin by posting the remainder of the January 2001 issue in March, the February issue in April, and so on, so that—after a brief delay—journal readers who are not subscribers will have access to the same content as subscribers. We hope these changes will benefit all portions of our audience, regardless of an interested reader's background or training.
In September 1999, the Proceedings began working with Mayo Foundation Division of Communications to make reports from the journal more accessible to the lay media. In 2000, we estimated (using industry-recognized techniques) that the worldwide lay press coverage of our articles reached an audience of approximately one-half million every 24 hours, or well in excess of 150 million per year. Readers can expect to see continued growth in this area, in large measure because we plan to publish more high-quality, high-impact material, which subsequently will be available for lay press dissemination.
These past few months have indeed been a period of great excitement at the Proceedings. Growth such as that described above would not be possible without the indefatigable support of our authors, readers, reviewers, staff, editorial board members, and other support personnel. To all, I offer a heartfelt thank-you for past acts, and I ask for understanding as we periodically experience growing pains related to the prosperity of the journal.
As we move forward, ever attempting to improve the Proceedings, we encourage you, our authors and readers, to share with us your thoughts. Your cards, letters, and other messages have influenced the direction of the journal over the past 2 years, and I can assure you that they will have some bearing on our future course. The journal is here to serve you, and we eagerly anticipate input from you on how we can best accomplish this goal.
- Leading Mayo Clinic Proceedings into the future.Mayo Clin Proc. 1999; 74: 104
Dr Lanier is Editor-in-Chief of Mayo Clinic Proceedings and Consultant in the Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
© 2001 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.