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Editorial
March 25, 2021

JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery—The Year in Review, 2020

Author Affiliations
  • 1Editor, JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery
  • 2Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Washington University in St Louis School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online March 25, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2021.0083

The year 2020 will be remembered as a most challenging year, and this was true at JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery. Our editorial board meeting was held in Chicago, Illinois, on March 9, 2020, and while we discussed the emerging manifestations of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, we had little knowledge of how dramatically our lives were going to change in the next few days and weeks. I especially want to thank the editors, members of the editorial board, peer reviewers,1 authors, and members of the publication staff for their tremendous hard work and contributions to the journal this past year despite the burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, the journal received 2040 manuscripts, which is 661 more manuscripts than we received in 2019, a 47.9% relative increase. The overall acceptance rate decreased to 15%, and of the 1363 research submissions in 2020, we published 109 (8.0%). Between April and December 2020, the journal received 317 COVID-19–related manuscripts. The journal received 127 Reviews and published 18 (14.2%) and received 101 Viewpoints and published 24 (23.8%). The journal published 4 clinical trials, 13 meta-analyses, and 7 systematic reviews. The content mix for 2020 was approximately 35% original research and 65% clinical review and education, letters, and opinion. Despite the tremendous increase in submissions, the journal was able to complete manuscript reviews in a timely fashion. The efforts of our reviewers and editors resulted in a median time from receipt of an original research report to publication of 119 days, a decrease of 36 days from 2019. The median time from acceptance to first publication was 61 days. Keeping the time between receipt and rejection short for manuscripts that are not suitable for peer review in the journal is important so that authors of rejected manuscripts may submit the manuscript elsewhere without inordinate delay. Also important is to ensure published results are made quickly available. All COVID-19 articles were made freely available to the world, and all research articles are freely available 12 months after publication on the journal’s website.

The journal received 138 submissions associated with the 2020 American Head and Neck Society (AHNS) meeting. With the outstanding effort by Deputy Editor Samir Khariwala, MD, MS, editorial manager Karen L. Dodson, MBA, and the staffs of the AHNS and the JAMA Network, we were able to quickly review and publish 7 articles online first and in the December issue despite the meeting being postponed to 2021.2-8

This past year, the journal’s impact factor increased from 3.5 to 3.8—the highest of all otorhinolaryngology journals. The immediacy index, or the average number of times an article is cited in the year it is published, is 1.049 and is the highest of all general otolaryngology journals. The quality of our published articles is reflected in the nearly 4 million article views and more than 3600 mentions of JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery articles in news media in 2020. The electronic table of contents was provided via email to more than 40 000 readers. This past year, we also published 10 podcasts of interviews with authors. In 2020, we had more than 15 000 Twitter and Facebook followers. David M. Poetker, MD, Continuing Medical Education Editor, produced CME quizzes, which more than 2300 individuals used to claim CME credit. In addition, 232 peer reviewers and authors claimed CME credit for contributing to the journal.

The journal covered a wide range of topics across the subspecialties of otolaryngology, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the past year. The top 3 articles by views, Altmetric scores (measures of news and social media attention), and citations for 2020 are shown in the Table.9-15 Not surprisingly, most of these articles covered topics related to the testing for COVID-19 and clinical presentation of patients with COVID-19. The highest-rated article in terms of views and news and social media coverage was a report of the first case of a cerebrospinal fluid leak after nasal testing for COVID-19.9 The next 2 most read articles included studies that assessed the efficacy of nasal povidone-iodine against in vitro transmission of SARS-CoV-210 and examined the clinical course of the loss of sense of smell and taste in a case series of mildly symptomatic patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection.11 Another top-ranked article reported a study that found that cell phone–related injuries to the head and neck have increased steeply over the recent 20-year period, with many incidents resulting from distraction.12 Another important article reported on a patient who was diagnosed as having COVID-19 and presented mainly with olfactory function loss.13 At that time in the COVID-19 pandemic, this finding had not been previously reported in the published literature. This report was submitted to the journal on March 20, 2020, and expedited for publication 19 days later on April 8, 2020.

Table.  JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery Statistics for 2020
JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery Statistics for 2020

The journal published 12 Original Investigations and Research Letters focused on COVID-19, including the presenting signs and symptoms,16 clinical course,11 treatment,10,17 modifications of techniques to increase safety,18-21 and health services research.22 The journal also published 4 Reflections, which poignantly described first-person experiences with COVID-19.23-26 Last year, the journal published 5 Patient Pages: “What Are Ear Tubes?”27 “Nasal Airway Obstruction Structure and Function,”28 “Thyroid Nodules,”29 “Laryngectomy Care in the COVID-19 Era,”30 and “Immunotherapy.”31

This year, the journal will start to publish visual abstracts with all reports of randomized clinical trials. Visual abstracts are graphic summaries of the main aspects of the clinical trial, including the population, location, intervention, and findings. Through the use of pictographs and minimal words, visual abstracts convey complex trial information in an efficient way. The journal’s first visual abstract, published on March 4, 2021, summarizes a clinical trial of the effect of oral corticosteroids following endoscopic sinus surgery for chronic rhinosinusitis without nasal polyposis.32

I wish to acknowledge the tremendous work and effort on behalf of the journal by Samir Khariwala (focusing on head and neck) and Deputy Editor Cristina Baldassari, MD (focusing on pediatrics), as well as the journal’s associate editors and section editors.33 I also thank Joseph P. Bradley, MD, for his great work as online editor and host for the journal’s podcast. I welcome Nosayaba (Nosa) Osazuwa-Peters, PhD, MPH, as the newest member of the Editorial Board. And finally, a repeated special thanks to our reviewers,1 who so generously give their time to review submissions, which ultimately leads to the high-quality content within the journal.

I invite all of you to sign up for the electronic table of contents at https://jamaotolaryngology.com, follow us on Twitter @JAMAOto, or friend us on Facebook.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Jay F. Piccirillo, MD, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Washington University in St Louis School of Medicine, 660 S Euclid Ave, Campus Box 8115, St Louis, MO 63110 (piccirij@wustl.edu).

Published Online: March 25, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2021.0083

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

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Nathan  CO, Fakhry  C, Moore  MG.  We survived 2020 with patient survivors: presidential address.   JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2020;146(12):1097-1098. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.4088PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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Povolotskiy  R, Gupta  N, Leverant  AB, Kandinov  A, Paskhover  B.  Head and neck injuries associated with cell phone use.   JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2020;146(2):122-127. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2019.3678PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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Eliezer  M, Hautefort  C, Hamel  AL,  et al.  Sudden and complete olfactory loss of function as a possible symptom of COVID-19.   JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2020;146(7):674-675. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.0832PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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