The American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology has taken the electronic route along with the other journals from the “family” of the American Journal of Physiology. Since February 1, 2001, in an effort to expedite the peer review process and, ultimately, time to publication, the journal now requires electronic submission of manuscripts. Traditionally, authors were required to mail four hard copies of the manuscript to the Bethesda office, where they would be opened, sorted, counted, and checked before a manuscript number was assigned. They would then be dispatched to the Editor's office where they were assigned to reviewers who would then receive the hard copy manuscript in the mail for review. This process, while efficient, was slow as well as expensive. Considerable time and cost was involved to the author, particularly an overseas author, in preparing, printing, and mailing the initial submission, only then to repeat the process at revision and acceptance and finally again at page proof stage. We are entering our third month of online submission and review experience. There has been a learning curve with its concomitant share of “rough spots.” Most of the problems have been associated with the Editors and selection of Reviewers. These kinks are being worked out and will culminate with software and hardware upgrades in the near future.
The American Physiological Society (APS) began experimenting with electronic submission and peer review in July 1999. Whereas this was a new process for many APS authors, the Society is in fact only following the route of many other scientific societies and publishers. In the last 2 years considerable efforts have been made based on input from users at all levels to streamline the process and make it more user friendly. The online submission process is now a simple two-part process; the first part consists of entering information or bibliographic data, followed by the upload of the entire manuscript saved as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file on a secure website known as APSCentral (www.apscentral.org). The use of a PDF file allows the manuscript to be viewed and downloaded easily on the Internet while remaining secure. PDF has come to be regarded as a standard format for sharing files across the Internet. PDF files are created by using Adobe Acrobat software, which is not a word processing software, but a file formatting software that preserves all of the fonts and images of the original document regardless of the software used in preparation. Adobe Acrobat software is available at a substantially reduced price through educational institution bookstores worldwide. If authors cannot easily obtain this software, they may use a free online PDF creation service; the link is listed in the Instructions to Authors. Reviewers usually print out the manuscript to review but return the critique electronically. The main benefit of electronic submission is that many APS journals now average an 18-day turnaround time from submission to first decision, and AJP-Heart and Circulatory will endeavor to follow this lead.
The key to a successful electronic submission is to be prepared. Full and frequently updated instructions to authors are available on the APS website athttp://www.the-aps.org/publications/journals/pub_quick.htm. If authors encounter difficulties during the upload process, they should seek help. APS does not recommend spending more than 30 min on PDF file creation. If you are spending more time than this, you should contact via E-mail or call the Bethesda office during regular office hours. The other benefit of electronic submission is that, when accepted, the manuscript will be published almost immediately online. Shortly, APS will introduce Articles in PresS, which will publish, with the author's permission, the electronically accepted paper in manuscript form. This will be a citable document, searchable on Medline, and will have its own unique reference. Only complete electronic manuscripts of original research will be eligible to participate in this new and exciting process. Whereas it is true that the copy edited and polished print version will still take 3–4 mo to be published, your manuscript, with its minor errors, will be citable within days of acceptance. Not only will Articles in PresS markedly increase timeliness of communication, but will also establish publication priority–giving credit where and when it is due.
I thank all of your for your patience and urge everyone to participate fully in these new ventures, which will soon become a standard for the scientific community.
- Copyright © 2001 the American Physiological Society