Revitalizing a Declining Journal on the Brink of Closure: An Exceptional Editor Case Study

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By: Penny Freedman, Tue Dec 3 2019
Penny Freedman

Author: Penny Freedman

Serving as an editor takes dedication, time, and passion. Regardless of the discipline, editors can learn a lot from one another’s successes.  We asked some of our exceptional editors at Springer Nature to share initiatives that took their publications to new heights. Their stories of success highlight the impact that even a small change can have. Whatever the goal may be, big or small, be it growth, a major change-up, or a refinement of a process, we hope that the stories from our Exceptional Editor Case Study Series will help inspire new ways that editors can help advance their publications. 

IJIR: Your Sexual Medicine Journal (International Journal of Impotence Research) was a leader in its field for almost 30 years. Having been the first journal to publish papers on Viagra, it had a strong reputation for publishing cutting edge research. However, over the past few years, the journal saw a steep decline as it struggled to gain submissions, and there was discussion around possible closure. In 2017 a new publishing editor, Virginia Mercer, came aboard followed by a new Editor-in-Chief, Ege Can Serefoglu, and they created a plan to turn things around.

Ege Can Serefoglu © 2019
The Goal:

Completely overhaul the journal, find its niche, and make it more attractive to publish in than competitor journals.

The Process:

  1. The first step to revitalizing the journal was refining the journal’s name - International Journal of Impotence Research - to better reflect the journal’s scope. Since impotence is a somewhat archaic term in today’s world, the editors wanted to downplay it while staying true to the journal’s name, which was tied to a strong reputation. The solution was to focus on the journal’s commonly used acronym - IJIR - while adding a tagline that emphasized its dedication to publishing on ‘Sexual Medicine’ in its entirety. 
  2. Next, a team of Associate Editors, positioned as experts in their assigned areas, were brought on to cover the expanding scope of the journal.
  3. Commissioning was a crucial step to increase submissions.  It was important to target authors and topics pertinent to the new direction of the journal. Individual papers were also commissioned for special issues highlighting important topics in the field. Articles from two of the special issues can be read here: Shockwave Therapy and Premature Ejaculation.
  4. In order to improve the publishing experience for authors, subsequently encouraging re-submissions and recommendations, the editors sought  to reduce turnaround times – both to review and to publication, which had been very high in the past.
  5. Lastly, with a stronger presence in the market, social media channels were introduced to promote the journal's content and increase visibility.

The Results:

After two years there are already impressive results to report. The journal’s published output has significantly increased. Website views have increased and new content is cited more, which will likely lead to an increase in Impact Factor. 

After receiving receiving only 82 submissions in 2017, submission grew by 165% with 217 papers submitted in 2018. Signs are positive that this success will continue into 2019.

The scope of the journal is now more robust and well-aligned with what is happening in the field. The papers that are received and published are more diverse, of a higher quality, and are pioneering new techniques. There is a renewed focus on women and the LGBTQ community, as well as infertility issues that have bases in sexual dysfunctions, psychology and its impact on sexual function and medicine, and health’s overall impact on sex, fertility, etc. 

IJIR is once again a leader in its field, tackling subjects that its competitors haven’t touched upon yet, while carving out a niche for itself.
 

Penny Freedman

Author: Penny Freedman

Penny Freedman is a Marketing Manager on the Author Experience & Services team, based in the New York office. She works closely on sharing insight and guidance on the benefits and services available to our editors, reviewers, and authors.

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