1. Baker, Kathy A. PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN

Article Content

This past month, our Associate Editor, Cathleen Shellnutt, and I attended the publication update seminar that our publisher, Wolters Kluwer, hosts for their healthcare editorial teams every few years. I always enjoy the update seminar as it allows me to understand more of what is happening in the publishing world, directs my thoughts towards planning for the future of Gastroenterology Nursing, and gives me an opportunity to network with other healthcare editors as well as the publication team of Wolters Kluwer. Serving as Editor-in-Chief of Gastroenterology Nursing for almost two decades now, and having Cathleen in attendance for the first time, I had time to reflect on where we have been and where we are going as the major gastroenterology nursing journal globally. That accomplishment is both an honor and a responsibility that the editorial board takes seriously. Changes in publishing over these 18 years have not only enhanced many aspects of accessing credible evidence in the published literature, but has also contributed to the complexity of publishing that many authors and readers do not necessarily have knowledge about.

Kathy A. Baker, PhD,... - Click to enlarge in new windowKathy A. Baker, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN

When I assumed the role of editor in 1999, the outgoing editor forwarded all of the records including manuscripts accepted for publication to a single box! Everything at that time was managed with correspondence on journal stationary via snail mail. Manuscripts were submitted in multiple hard copies and often delivered with "signature required" at delivery to assure they had reached the editorial office. Next, I would select at least two editorial board members to review the manuscript, and mailed each reviewer one of the author-provided hard copies of the manuscript as well as a review guide for comments and recommendations. Once the review was completed, the reviewer comments were mailed back to me, and the decision process moved forward. Manuscripts accepted for publication were forwarded via snail mail to the publisher and the next issue was assembled. For several years, the editorial board and I were always anxious about having enough accepted manuscripts to fill an issue. Our specialty at the time was growing, but finding credible manuscripts was no easy task.


Move forward to today, and most aspects of publication are now automated. Writing for publication is highly encouraged and even expected in many practice settings, so that our days of wondering if we would have credible manuscripts to publish has been replaced with a highly competitive peer review process for Gastroenterology Nursing. Because of the volume of manuscripts submitted (now, from both international and interdisciplinary authors), additional reviewers beyond the editorial board have been added to provide both clinical expertise as well as scientific critique of the many evidence-based or research-focused submissions to the journal.


The submission process is now automated with practically all aspects of the publication process handled through editorial management software that involves the author, reviewers, editors, and publication staff. Because of digital capabilities, we are able to expand the number of pages an author can submit so that important information can be provided to readers via online access without the expense associated with hard copy. Readers, both local and global, can access the journal through multiple technologies including online apps and databases that provide instantaneous access for subscribers and viewers.


Another major change in publishing over the past two decades is the emergence of predatory publishers. In the scientific global community, there has been a recent trend to require research that is funded via public dollars (for instance, the National Institutes of Health [NIH] in the United States) to be available "open access." The thought is that research findings should be accessible more quickly than it takes to publish manuscripts, and they should be open to public comment and scrutiny. While the average reader may not have the scientific background to critique research studies as a peer reviewer would, the goal is to also have credible scientific peers who would offer public comment via open access. The challenge with this model is there still is expense involved with disseminating studies via open access. Someone has to manage the editorial process and disseminate the manuscript via a standard accessible platform. To defer the costs, authors are required to pay a fee to support the publication expenses of having their work published via this platform. Typically, the funds are provided as part of the original grant funding.


With the introduction of open access publishing came those who were primed to capitalize on unsuspecting authors. Predatory publishers, as they are known, established quick "start up" journals and offered rapid turn-around for peer review and online publishing. Some suggested they could have authors in print within one week of submission. The problem is that these publishers are not credible. They take the author's money, do little-to-no authentic peer review, publish online in "journals" that are not accessible through credible library databases, and often cease to exist without warning. Unfortunately, authors have signed over their copyright to the predatory journal so that the author is now unable to publish their work in a credible source. For those who contact the predatory publisher asking to withdraw their manuscript, they might be offered the potential to do so...for yet another fee and no real guarantee that the manuscript will in fact not be published! These predatory publishers are masters at marketing their journals with what looks to be a credible website and even go so far as to list renowned clinicians and scientists who have no idea they are being listed as editorial board members or reviewers. The predatory publishers cite literary recognitions for their supposed journal such as impact factors, awards, and other false marketing to recruit unsuspecting authors. So what was once a highly regarded scholarly process has now become a challenge for unsuspecting authors and consumers.


Our meeting this year focused on protecting the integrity of the publication process, enhancing the peer review process, enhancing discoverability of articles by readers, strategic planning, and attracting the right authors. Gone are the days of a simpler approach to publishing. Today, healthcare editors have to understand aspects of science, technology, marketing, editing, recruiting, managing, and publication authenticity. Authors and consumers also have to understand what distinguishes credible publication sources from those that are scam. The publication process is complex and requires more knowledge, resources, and management than in days gone by.


We are fortunate as consumers of Gastroenterology Nursing to benefit from an editorial board, publisher, and support staff who understand and are attentive to protecting the integrity of our journal. You can be assured that every effort is made not only to fairly and effectively evaluate the literature submitted by potential authors, but to protect and project our journal processes for the future. Our editorial board and team remain committed to impacting gastroenterology nursing practice through publications that have been subjected to rigor and authenticity in the review and publication process. We are further dedicated to assuring we maintain the knowledge and resources to support the highest publication standards for our readers and consumers. Thank you to our editorial board, reviewers, publisher, and staff who support our ongoing efforts to remain a trusted publication source for gastroenterology nursing practice.