‘It’s an exciting time of change and another notable milestone in our development’
The Academy’s journal, Psychosomatics, is to become solely an online journal starting in January 2021.
The transition will coincide with the name of the journal changing to the Journal of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry.
The Board’s decisions preceded finalization of a new five-year publishing contract with Elsevier which was renegotiated over the last five months.
The new contract provides for the transition to fully online starting in January 2021. At the same time a new editor-in-chief will take over from Ted Stern, MD, FACLP, who is retiring from the role at the end of 2020 after 13 years in post.
Shortlisted candidates for that role were interviewed during May and June—and it is planned that the Board’s appointee, yet to be announced, will overlap Dr. Stern by approximately three months before assuming the role effective January 1, 2021, for a five-year term.
ACLP News asked Academy president Michael Sharpe, MD, FACLP, about the Board’s decisions.
Why have you decided to take the journal to online only?
Online is simply the way to go for journals. The move was proposed by Elsevier as part of the contract negotiations. And it rapidly became clear that continuing with a print edition meant, in the long run, complete eradication of our royalty revenue by subscription costs. Financial projections indicated the Academy would be paying Elsevier to support the journal, instead of the other way around if we continued with a paper journal. Moving to online only allows us to maintain the Academy’s royalty revenue stream for the Journal at a similar level for 2021-25 as that we have enjoyed from 2015-20.
The Academy is not alone in this move to online-only. Many academic journals have adopted this strategy to adapt to the rapidly changing market forces of the academic publishing world. The journal has been online for years and many of our members already prefer this mode of access. We must now transition the membership as a whole to online only. I have no doubt it will be difficult for some to give up a paper edition and we are sorry to have to remove this option, but the Board agreed that this is the only financially viable course of action.
It’s also worth remembering the advantages of being online. Papers are available very quickly and are easily accessible to all. Our entire back catalog is available online. Furthermore, as part of our new Elsevier contract, we have negotiated a significant increase in page count that will enable the journal to accept and publish more articles.
Online-only journals can also publish articles on a rolling basis, rather than waiting to compile articles into periodic issues. Say we wanted to disseminate information immediately (such as at the outset of a crisis) rather than wait for a scheduled publication date, we would be able to do so—and also disseminate it globally in an instant, rather than wait for postal deliveries.
What is the cost saving to the Academy by going online-only?
The cost of printing the bound, 200+ page edition of Psychosomatics bi-monthly, plus processing and postage, is about $125,000 per annum—a cost which is not sustainable longer term without resorting to significant increases in membership fees. Production costs for editions online are, of course, much, much lower by comparison.
Will going online-only still make getting the journal a major benefit of membership?
Yes, it will. The content is the same; it’s just the distribution mechanism that is different. In fact, it will enhance it, as the depth of content will expand beyond what couldn’t be affordably delivered by paper copies.
We will also use the revenue from the journal to pay for many other member benefits. This revenue stream is one reason why our annual dues—compared to other medical specialty societies—are so low.
Would you expect that some members, maybe those who have been practicing the longest, will miss the paper journal?
For many, if not most, of our members, this change will go unnoticed, as online access is now the main way journals are accessed and reading articles only on a screen is the norm. For some members, however, the Board acknowledges it will be a noticeable change, and some will no doubt miss receiving printed copies in the mail and miss this periodic ‘concrete’ contact from the Academy.
For those who sometimes prefer paper—and I am one of those people— articles from the online journal can be readily printed.
As time passes I do think that we’ll all find an online journal increasingly useful—with facilities such as by being able to search at speed for topics and issues across multiple documents when, for example, we wish to examine a particular aspect of research; or to search ‘on the move’ an indexed archive of topics for relevant references; or to benefit from links to other material online.
We must not forget that papers in Psychosomatics are currently already published online before they appear in the printed edition. If we’re not already accessing the journal online and wish to experiment, we can visit this page of the Academy website for details.
In time, we may well wonder why we hadn’t made this move earlier.
What is the reasoning behind the name change?
As we all know, our subspecialty has successfully moved from being called Psychosomatic Medicine to Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, so the new journal title will be more in line with our established, recognized, everyday practices, giving us a more readily recognized association with what we do and say as an Academy of members.
For many years, the name Psychosomatics has been an anchor for our development, but now that our Academy and subspecialty has changed its name, so too must our journal.
Not only that, but we anticipate that the name change will bring many more to see the new journal name as the natural home for their latest manuscripts, making our journal ever-more current and relevant to today’s and tomorrow’s best practice in our field. Regular readers and prospective Academy members will turn to our journal as the first point of reference for developing their knowledge and experience.
Are there drawbacks to the name change?
We have some administrative tasks to manage, such as how we are listed (we will need a new ISSN number that could potentially trigger a review by those controlling such listings); and whether our associates helping to disseminate our content, such as university libraries, will join with us seamlessly in this changeover. We have the resources and experience of Elsevier to guide and support us in this.
The new name, Journal of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, is nearly the same as our current subtitle which will help our transition.
Our specialist advisers suggest that, inevitably, what’s called our “impact factor” may dip in the short-term, then recover after a period (maybe over even two-three years) as citations become quoted from journals with both our former and new names. Lists published in the Journal Citation Reports quote both former and new names, but new titles are listed without an “impact factor” because the article count for the two preceding years (a denominator in impact factor calculations) is zero.
Led by the Board and our executive team, however, we fully expect to overcome these short-term challenges and set ourselves on a much surer footing. It’s an exciting time of change and another notable milestone in our development.