Association for Molecular Pathology


October 2010, Volume 16, Number 3


The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics

Timothy J. O’Leary, MD, PhD

By Timothy J. O'Leary, MD, PhD
The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics


As I write this, I am about two thirds of the way through my first year as Editor-in-Chief. This has been a great opportunity for me to learn from the many wonderful papers submitted to JMD, as well as from the expertise of Senior Associate Editor Barbara Zehnbauer, Associate Editors Mark Ladanyi, Fred Barr, Adam Bagg, Vicky Pratt and Angie Caliendo, Managing Editor Audra Cox, and Editorial Assistant Emily Hamilton. Their efforts, combined with those of the authors and reviewers who spend countless hours refining the manuscripts that are finally published, are what have made The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics the leading publication of this type.

So far this year, we have received 163 new manuscripts for consideration, on pace to equal or exceed last year's record. Only about twenty percent of these manuscripts have been accepted, and about half have been declined. Most manuscripts go through a number of iterations before final acceptance; hence, about thirty percent of the manuscripts received this year are in the process of revision and reconsideration. Following final acceptance, it takes about five months for a paper to hit print. Although the JMD Impact Factor declined slightly from 3.643 in 2008 to 3.413 in 2009, JMD remains well ahead of the competition in citations, and this change is too small to be interpreted as much more than "noise" at this point.

Nevertheless, we are in the process of revising instructions to authors with the objective of making JMD even more useful to our readers and the AMP membership. First, we are phasing out the section entitled "Consultations in Molecular Diagnostics." This section, which published case reports, provided a valuable service to the community, particularly when our discipline was less mature and there were no formal training programs. Most members of the Editorial Board believe that improved educational resources and training opportunities have obviated the need for this section. Case reports will be considered as regular articles, but with an appropriately high bar for publication. In addition, we are strongly considering a requirement that appropriately calculated confidence limits accompany assay sensitivity and specificity calculations. Finally, we are giving strong scrutiny to papers that use "discrepant analysis" to arrive at estimates of sensitivity and specificity, since this method is subject to potentially high levels of statistical bias.

Finally, the Association for Molecular Pathology and the American Society of Investigative Pathology are considering an arrangement by which Elsevier would publish JMD for the societies; such an arrangement would have absolutely no effect on JMD content or editorial policies, which remain the prerogative of the societies and the Editors.

New Publishing Practices for JMD in 2011

Over the past several months, the AMP Executive Office, in cooperation with the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) and our joint Journal Office for the publication of ASIP's The American Journal of Pathology (AJP) and the jointly-owned The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics (JMD), has been hard at work on rethinking our business model for journal publication. Scientific publishing is undergoing tremendous evolutionary pressures from factors such as the Open Access movement, adoption of new publishing and discoverability technologies, and increased globalization of content. This changing climate has put traditional revenue streams such as institutional subscriptions at risk, while also demanding higher levels of diligence, investment, and innovation. While The American Journal of Pathology (AJP) and The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics (JMD) have had strong success as self-published non-profit journals, AMP and ASIP want to ensure that the journals remain able to provide continued innovative technological improvements and financial stability, while still ensuring the high editorial and production quality of published articles.

With that in mind, last winter ASIP put out a Request for Proposals to consider managed publication of AJP and JMD. Under managed publishing, the societies still own the journal, maintain copyright, and retain full editorial control, but production, promotion and other publishing support services are provided by a commercial publisher. Several major publishers responded with significant interest in AJP and JMD. The proposals were reviewed by an ASIP subcommittee composed of six members including Karen Kaul and Mark Sobel, who represented JMD's interests in particular, and several staff advisors (Audra Cox, Managing Editor, Angela Colmone, Scientific Editor, James Douglas, Director of Finance and Operations, Maria Giorla, Director of Journal Business and Strategic Planning, and Priscilla Markwood, ASIP Director of Scientific Affairs, Communications, and Society Services and former Managing Editor of both AJP and JMD).

In April and May, the ASIP Council and the AMP Council, respectively, authorized the joint Executive Office to pursue a managed publishing arrangement, which we are currently in the process of finalizing. We are confident that this arrangement will provide enhanced technological advancement and financial stability, and has the potential to greatly expand the readership and global visibility of our flagship journals. Since the pre-production phase of journal publishing will not be altered, authors of manuscripts submitted to JMD will not experience or be aware of any change in the manuscript submission and review process.