Dear colleagues,

It is a sad fact that OJPHI has not been able to publish three issues in a year since the onset of the pandemic in 2020. The major reason cited has been time constraints due to the responsibilities placed on the reviewers by the pandemic, most of whom are public health professionals directly engaged in managing the pandemic in their various jurisdictions. Of course, family responsibilities also place further demands on each reviewer’s valuable resource, time. However, this slow pace of review will not sustain the journal.

To address this problem, we designed incentives to encourage reviewers to expedite the review process. The incentive package did not improve the review process. This is not a surprise because research shows that, only 17 % of reviewers choose cash or in-kind payment as an incentive to willingly serve as peer reviewers. Most peer reviewers believe that it is either part of their job as a researchers; they want to reciprocate for reviews of my work; they want to keep up to date on the latest research or ensure the quality and integrity of research published in their fields. In spite of the incentives and the above noble reasons, the review process has slowed considerably to the extent that we have 90 articles in the pipeline to be reviewed or assigned for review.

This is the only peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the dissemination of public and population health informatics research, education and policy. Our publication fee is roughly one -quarter of the fees charged by health and biomedical informatics journals. The relevance of this journal has been demonstrated by the current pandemic, the current digital health revolution, emerging communicable diseases, the prevalence of non-communicable diseases, and the value of integrating health and public health informatics with Social Determinants of Health using data analytics.

In light of the difficulty in sustaining publication of the journal, we are left with a few uncomfortable choices: limit publication to one issue a year with just a few articles, cease publication, or look for an external partner.  We chose to go with an external partner.

We have signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a major publisher, JMIR Publications, the publisher of the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The transfer of ownership agreement will be signed not later than December 31, 2022. Under this agreement, JMIR has agreed to honor the current OJPHI publication fee of $450 per accepted paper. $100 for papers from developing countries, and provide waivers when appropriate to all papers in the OJPHI pipeline.

I am inviting all current editorial board members, reviewers and readers to join me. JMIR Publications will provide additional members to expedite our review process. All production activities will be carried out by professionals from JMIR. OJPHI is in good hands because JMIR is one of the most reputable publishers in the health and biomedical informatics disciplines. The review turnaround time is under 2 months and the issues will be  released promptly.

I will remain the Editor-in-Chief of OJPHI, which will be the only public and population health informatics journal under the umbrella of journals published by JMIR Publications. It is my conviction that this arrangement will work out for the benefit of all. If it does, OJPHI will be sustained, authors will be happy to see their hard work pay off, researchers and readers will have access to the publications promptly.

Let us all work hard to sustain OJPHI under all circumstances. I am appealing to all reviewers assigned to current articles in the OJPHI pipeline to complete their reviews before December 31, 2022. I will be attending the forthcoming APHA annual meeting in Boston. If you are willing to have conversations with me, I will be in either the JMIR booth (#145) or the Health Informatics and Information Technology booth.

Best Regards,

Edward Mensah, PhD

Editor-in-Chief, OJPHI

Emeritus Assoc. Professor of Health Economics and Informatics

School of Public Health

University of Illinois, Chicago

edk.mensah1989@gmail.com; dehasnem@uic.edu