I want to apologize profusely for the slow pace of publication in the year 2020. The reviews were so slow that we were not able publish even 2 complete issues. Everyone gave covid-19 as an excuse and I perfectly understand. The year 2020 could be classified as a black swan, a predictable but rare event with devastating consequences (I hope I got the comparison right!). The impact has been traumatic on all of us, but on some more than others.
Since the end of pandemic is not predictable with any degree of certainty, the management of the journal suggests the following 3 options: a) to continue at this slow pace where we have 40 articles submitted last year but not yet reviewed, b) publish only 1 issue a year until the pandemic is over, c) insist that all authors capable of serving as reviewers must promptly review papers assigned to them within 2 to 3 weeks. We choose option 3 with the promise that reviewers shall review not more than 3 papers a year. We also encourage reviewers to recommend other reviewers for the journal.
The publication of OJPHI is a public service that we perform for the public and population health informatics community. We charge very low publishing fee and no submission or subscription fees. We subsidize developing country researchers. As a public service we believe that it is only fair that authors who receive favors by having their articles reviewed should reciprocate the favors. That is the only way we can sustain the publication.
To cover costs of publication we are increasing the publication fee from $350 per accepted paper to $450. Authors from developing countries shall be charged $100 article publication fee. There are no submission or subscription fees. This journal is published by the University of Illinois Chicago at cost, with a profit margin close to zero.
Incentives: The idea of providing financial incentives to reviewers has been discussed by commercial and academic publishers with no consensus. A survey of 15,000 researchers conducted by Publons (a site that enables researchers to track their publications) in 2018 (Shawna Williams, Nov. 2020, in The Scientist) showed that only 17 % selected cash or in-kind payment as an incentive to willingly serve as peer reviewers. In a separate inquiry about why experts would serve as peer reviewers, the most popular response was: ‘ It is part of my job as a researcher,’ followed by ‘I want to reciprocate for reviews of my work,’ then ‘To keep up to date on the latest research,’ and ‘To ensure the quality and integrity of research published in my field.’
Management of OJPHI recommends giving each reviewer $50 waiver if the reviewer submits an article that is accepted for publication. At the end of the year, if a reviewer has not received any waivers, we will reimburse them in cash or roll the waivers over to the following year. The same applies to section editors.
My dear colleagues, let us do our best to sustain the publication of this journal, the first academic portal dedicated to the dissemination of research in public and population health informatics.
On a final note, I retired on December 31, after 31 years on the faculty. I will dedicate more time to research and editing this great journal. From now until March 3rd 2021, you may reach me at email@example.com
Happy New Year.
Edward Mensah, PhD