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March 25, 2022

JAMA Network Open—The Year in Review, 2021

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle
  • 2Editor, JAMA Network Open
  • 3Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle
  • 4Deputy Editor, JAMA Network Open
JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(3):e225661. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.5661

Last year when we wrote in our 2020 year in review1 about how the pandemic had upended everyone’s lives, we were hopeful that the pandemic might soon be brought under control with the advent of very effective vaccines and a year of rapid-paced learning on how to reduce risk of severe illness and death. Unfortunately, but perhaps not altogether unexpectedly, the frustratingly rapid adaptability of this pathogen, combined with the unpredictability of human behavior, made SARS-CoV-2 one of the dominant topics for health and health care again in 2021.

Another theme that was woven into many of the manuscripts submitted to JAMA Network Open and those we published was the effect of systemic racism on health and health care. In recognition of growing importance of this topic in medicine and society, the editors of the journal engaged in a year-long process to examine how we could more effectively address this issue. Among several outcomes of these discussions was an editorial2 outlining our views and plans for the future. In addition, we revised our mission statement: “The mission of JAMA Network Open is to improve health, health care, and health equity worldwide through open access dissemination of high quality, innovative, general medical research and commentary by and for a broad range of clinicians, researchers, policy makers, and public health and health care leaders.” The journal had issued a call for articles in August 2020 on the prevention and effects of systematic racism on health3 and has continued to contribute to this scientific discussion with more than 300 studies and commentaries published on this topic since the journal was launched. A list of these articles and others published by the JAMA Network journals is available online.4

This year has again been one of continued growth for JAMA Network Open. The Table shows some of the key statistics for the journal. We received 11 247 submissions, an increase of 17% from 2020. The number published increased by 28% from 2020 and doubled from 2019, with an acceptance rate that is now 16% for research manuscripts. JAMA Network Open is truly an international journal, with 58% of submissions emanating from 94 countries outside the US, led by China, Canada, Korea, Taiwan, UK, France, Australia, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

Table.  JAMA Network Open Statistics for 2021
JAMA Network Open Statistics for 2021

Our editors and staff have labored mightily to both maintain our standards and notify authors of our decisions expeditiously. We are heavily indebted to the unsung heroes of JAMA Network Open, the peer reviewers, who are listed elsewhere,5 for time and expertise that helped inform our decisions and helped authors improve their articles. These peer reviewers not only provide careful critiques but do so in a median of 13 days. To ensure that the work we publish is valid, we continue to obtain rigorous statistical reviews on essentially all the articles we publish, with our dedicated cadre of statistical reviewers.

As shown in the Table, we make a decision within 3 days, on average, as to whether we will pursue a submitted manuscript, allowing authors to quickly seek other avenues for publication. We now publish 5 days per week, which enables us to publish articles within a median of 60 days of acceptance. Articles of critical importance are published even more quickly.

As an open access journal, all of our content is immediately free to readers around the globe, whether they be investigators, clinicians, public health experts, policy makers, or the general public. At a time when public confidence in science continues to be undermined by false information from individuals with specific agendas and widely disseminated across the web, our ability to publish evidence-based research and data daily to inform discussions about health care and health policy underscores the critical mission of the journal. We augment the research published in the journal with invited commentaries published for 21% of the research articles, visual abstracts for randomized clinical trials, press releases, and social media posts.

Our content is widely disseminated. This past year, there were more than 19.8 million views and downloads of articles published in JAMA Network Open, a 50% increase from 2020. More than 106 000 people received emails with an electronic table of contents, facilitating quick access to work of personal interest. Articles published in JAMA Network Open were mentioned in the news media more than 47 000 times, and the journal has more than 31 800 social media followers. One measure of the media attention is the Altmetric score, which is a weighted count of mentions of an article in mainstream news, social media, blogs, and policy documents. The top articles for JAMA Network Open in 2021 as measured by views and downloads,6-8 Altmetric scores,6,8,9 and citations were all related to SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic.6,8,10 A study on SARS-CoV-2 transmission by asymptomatic people6 had an Altmetric score of 10 828, and JAMA Network Open had the most cited article and 20 of the top 50 articles published in open access general medical journals over the last 3 years.

Having just celebrated our fourth birthday, JAMA Network Open is now established as a leading general medical journal. In June 2021, we received our second Impact Factor, 8.48, placing the journal as one of the top open access health and public health publications and one of the leading general medical journals. The journal is indexed in all major bibliometric databases, including PubMed/Medline, Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus, Embase, CrossRef, and the Directory of Open Access Journals, and all research articles are deposited in PubMed Central.

In addition to the call for articles on systemic racism,3 we have issued calls for articles that address other critical health, health care, and public health concerns. In 2021, our call for articles on enhancing aging and ending ageism has brought attention to the burgeoning number of people aged 65 years and older and the need to “contribute to the evidence base to build the health and social care system needed to provide better health and health care for older adults and to eliminate ageism.”11 Other recent calls for articles have addressed health effects of climate change12 and adverse maternal outcomes of pregnancy,13 and we anticipate others calls for articles this coming year on topics that are essential to improving health around the world.

The demands of publishing a successful medical journal in today’s tumultuous and rapidly changing environment are legion and particularly challenging for one like JAMA Network Open that publishes 7 to 8 articles daily, 5 days per week. It would not be possible without the concerted efforts of a large team of dedicated professionals. In addition to Howard Bauchner, MD, MPH, former editor in chief of JAMA and the JAMA Network, Phil B. Fontanarosa, MD, MBA, interim editor in chief of JAMA and the JAMA Network, and Annette Flanagin, RN, MA, executive managing editor of JAMA and the JAMA Network, we must acknowledge the entire staff of the JAMA Network for their tireless contributions. The team of our associate editors, digital editors, statistical editors, and assistant editors has expanded as our journal has grown and is truly outstanding. Our discussions during our 3 manuscript meetings each week are lively intellectual interchanges as we carefully consider each manuscript and the reviewers’ comments in our decisions on what we should publish. Our editorial staff works tirelessly to ensure that every issue of JAMA Network Open appears online with superbly edited content. The team led by Daniel Lowden and Heather Green perform the day-to-day processing of submissions, reviews, and author correspondence and are responsible for the incredibly smooth process required to publish articles across a broad range of medical specialties and topics every weekday. We are also supported by a dedicated team of manuscript editors and production staff. Our distinguished editorial board has provided guidance and advice on how to make JAMA Network Open not just the best open access journal in the world, but one of the best journals publishing health-related research.

Finally, our greatest expression of appreciation is to our authors, who have entrusted JAMA Network Open with the fruits of their toil and the many patients, families, and members of the community who participated in the studies and made all of this possible. The success of JAMA Network Open stands as testament to the unassailable value and validity of the scientific process, which relies on critical peer review and open public discourse. As stewards of an international journal, we join with our readers from around the world to fervently hope for a healthier year in 2022 and promise that JAMA Network Open will continue to provide a home for cutting-edge, clinically relevant science that will help meet that expectation. Thanks to all of you.

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Article Information

Published: March 25, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.5661

Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License. © 2022 Rivara FP et al. JAMA Network Open.

Corresponding Author: Frederick P. Rivara, MD, MPH, Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, 325 Ninth Ave, Box 359960, Seattle, WA 98104 (fred.rivara@jamanetwork.org).

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

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