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Sound Perspectives
James F. Lynch
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution MS #11 Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543 USA
Adrian KC Lee
Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) and Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences University of Washington Portage Bay Building, Room 206 Box 357988 Seattle, Washington 98195-7988 USA
The Need for Speed
Tuning the publication engine
There are two prime metrics by which authors judge journals in which they are considering publishing: quality (reputation) and speed of publication. A journal’s quality and its metrics are an oft-discussed part of publishing. Articles about im- pact factor, full-text downloads, immediacy, shelf life, and other metrics abound. And although the discussion of quality is very important and perhaps worthy of a future Acoustics Today article about the publications of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), we wish to focus here on the second, and less often discussed, topic.
When James Lynch came on as editor in chief (EIC) of the ASA and editor of The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA) on November 1, 2014, JASA’s biggest point of criticism was that it was, plainly put, slow. Certainly, there is a min- imum time needed to ensure a quality review process, a point that all good journals consider beyond compromise, but JASA was far beyond an acceptable time. The time taken from receipt of a manuscript (MS) to first decision was, on average, 90-100 days as opposed to the 45- to 60-day turnaround that is more common for modern journals.
Clearly, some action was needed for JASA to stay competitive in this current publi- cations market. Due to the mandated transition of three of our publications (JASA, JASA Express Letters [JASA-EL], and Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics [POMA]) from the Peer Xpress review software to the Editorial Manager (EM) software, which initially launched (with POMA) on December 15, 2014, and then with JASA and JASA-EL in September 2015, the push for more rapidity in our processes took a back burner to the critical software transition until about January 2016, when our system was considered to again be stable. At that point, publication speed re- surfaced as our number one priority. The problem boiled down to identifying what was wrong and how we could fix it.
So, What’s the Problem?
The first part of our task, identifying the problem areas, took a little more investiga- tion than one might first imagine, given the many components of the peer-review and publication stream. The list of problem areas/questions we came up with had both structural and procedural components and looked like the following:
1. How slow are we compared with other journals in which ASA members publish?
2. Are we adequately and properly staffed to process the volume of MSs we handle
while meeting our projected growth?
3. What parts of the publication process are in our control (i.e., via the ASA Publi-
cations Office) as opposed to control by Aries Systems (our peer-review system
provider) and the American Institute of Physics Publishing (AIPP; our publisher)?
4. Looking at the parts of the process that we control, how efficient is each and what
are the major roadblocks? How do we fix those roadblocks?
5. What are the delays in the parts of the process outside our control? How do we
fix these?
 52 | Acoustics Today | Summer 2017 | volume 13, issue 2 ©2017 Acoustical Society of America. All rights reserved.

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