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care to flag those cases and make sure that the “long tail” of the distribution curve is cut as short as possible.
A crucial part of maintaining quality is the review process. A tough, but fair, review benefits both the author and the journal. Over 1,800 reviewers worldwide reviewed for JASA in 2020 (a big thank you to our reviewers!). We try
to keep our (eventual) acceptance rate at around 50%.
One area that gets undersold in rating journals is “cus- tomer service.” Does the journal get back to authors quickly if there are, e.g., any questions or adjustments? Is the author left in the dark about the status of his/her paper for long periods of time? Getting a timely reply or timely information can make the difference between a good pub- lishing experience and a bad one, and authors remember and vote with their feet when it comes to submitting their next paper. We have made a serious effort to concentrate on customer service, and it has been appreciated.
Let me conclude this long reply to a rather short, but critically important, question with an observation and a suggestion. Judging a journal’s worth by only one quantity, IF, is using an inadequate measure, an opinion/observa- tion that I am not alone in making today. Rather, I would suggest that journals make available a menu of metrics and qualities of their journal(s), of which the above is an abbreviated list, and then let the users (universities, labo- ratories, practitioners) make their own weighted average of the properties that they consider most important to them and judge from that. I think that, in the long run, this would better serve both the journals and their users. We are planning to do just that.
JAC: Jim, the ASA is attractive to many of us because of the combination of the journal and the meetings. The Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics (POMA) is a great way of combining the two. Could you comment?
JFL: The ASA is attractive for many reasons; it is very collegial, it is very broadband technically, and it accom- modates both academics and practitioners of acoustics. POMA has a nice niche in accommodating papers from the meetings in a lightly (editor) reviewed format so that people can quickly put a “marker” on new research results and also make a record of practical and engineer- ing results that might not get published otherwise. We have been very happy with POMA’s success.
I would note that the “technically broadband, not nar- rowly focused” and “academic and practitioner” aspects of the ASA are very much strengths for the Society but are actually somewhat problematic for JASA as regard raising our impact factor. But JASA is committed to serving all of the Society’s constituent groups, so we just deal with it.
TFD: You mentioned “outlier papers” that take an inordi- nately long time, but I think that’s a red herring because most papers go through the system properly. Could you comment?
JFL: A good question! When we report our “time to first decision” and “time to acceptance” statistics to the Edito- rial Board and ASA leadership, we include both the mean time and the median time. As you know, the mean time is greatly affected by the tail of the distribution, whereas the median statistic filters it out to some extent. One point to note, from an editor’s point of view, is that authors whose papers are on the long tail of the distribution make up a majority of “unhappy authors.” We like to cut that tail down as much as we can!
JHM: What are the effects of the open-access (OA) move- ment on JASA and JASA-EL?
JFL: Regarding OA, we are all for opening up everything as much as we can. The more open the access to an article, the more readers and (to some extent) the more cita- tions. JASA has had a gold OA option for some time now, and JASA-EL, which was formerly a component of JASA, has just become a fully gold OA journal, with Creative Commons CC BY licensing. So, we’re onboard with the movement to a considerable extent.
Regarding JASA, we will continue as a hybrid journal, which means that we will have a subscription with an option for authors to pay for gold OA because the ASA derives a significant amount of operating revenue from the journal’s earnings as a hybrid operation. If JASA went completely OA, it would probably at best break even as a cost center rather than show any net income. As things seem reasonably stable for hybrid journals, we will con- tinue that model.
But, given that, we still make a good amount of JASA’s content “free access” for limited periods of time. Special
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