The Journal of the Future

The incoming editor of the JACR® shares her vision for the scholarly publication and its success in the digital age.

Jan Carousel images-03.jpg(Left to right) Hanna Zafar, MD, the 2018 Bruce J. Hillman, MD, Fellow in Scholarly Publishing, takes a break from fellowship activities at ACR headquarters to pose for a photo with Christoph I. Lee, MD, JACR® deputy editor, Ruth C. Carlos, MD, MS, FACR, JACR editor-in-chief, and Lyndsee Cordes, senior managing editor, ACR Press.

This month, Ruth C. Carlos, MD, MS, FACR, formally assumed the role of editor-in-chief of the JACR®, ushering in new leadership at the journal, succeeding Bruce J. Hillman, MD, FACR, the founding editor of the JACR.

A professor of radiology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Carlos shares with the Bulletin her views on current issues in radiology and scholarly publishing and her vision for the journal.

What has been your involvement with the journal to date?

I’ve been involved with the journal for at least 11 years. I started as a writer and reviewer and joined the editorial board early on. One year, I came up with the idea that I’d get others to write articles, rather than writing my own, and that led to a 10-year series of special issues, many of which have become really well known both within and outside of radiology.

Five years ago, when I became deputy editor, the role was crafted to expand our digital footprint. We began a monthly Tweet chat. We started a podcast called the Radiology Firing Line. Our 2016 hackathon (an event where medical personnel, IT professionals, and patient advocates came together to create innovative solutions to an industry challenge) was our first large-scale event and that resulted in some innovations on the journal level, including integrating a patient advocate, Andrea Borondy Kitts, MS, MPH, onto the editorial board.

These roles have helped me understand the perspectives of each editorial position and what constitutes a successful journal. Being deputy editor gave me a unique understanding of what it means to be an editor-in-chief, and that knowledge has been particularly useful during the transition.

What is your vision for the journal moving forward?

The initial goal of the journal was to promote and capture evidence-based content that could help inform imaging practice. Dr. Hillman has achieved the goal of being a leader within this niche. Moving forward, I encourage authors to continue to think of us first when they decide where to submit an article related to any of our five pillars: health services policy and research, clinical practice management, training and education, leadership, and data science. I want us to be the first destination for readers looking to learn more about these topics.

It has also been exciting to see the JACR become an innovative scholarly publication, from increasing our digital footprint to expanding the types of manuscripts we present to our readers (as shown in our special issues on patient- and family-centered care, data science, and social media). I would like for us to continue to be known for our innovations and for what a scholarly publication can do to support the field.

What is your perspective on the current state of scholarly publishing?

There continue to be economic pressures, but scholarly publishing has been relatively resilient as an industry compared to other forms of journalism. This environment, however, has also led to the growth of online journals, some of which are legitimate and others that are predatory and do not necessarily enhance the science. I would encourage all authors to look closely at these journals before submitting and to have a better understanding of what open access is and isn’t.

What are your feelings on patient involvement in scholarly publishing?

Patients offer a unique perspective that is sometimes lost on clinicians. The patient perspective can positively influence clinical practice, research, and advocacy efforts. That’s why the journal will continue to have a patient advocate on the editorial board and remains interested in collaborating with the ACR’s Commission on Patient- and Family-Centered Care.

What advice would you give younger physicians interested in scholarly publishing?

The best advice I can give is this: if you want to be an author, write. One learns through writing and the decision process, even if the decision is not an acceptance. I often learned the most from rejections that came with substantive reviews.

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