With Readers in Mind, PAIN Considers Changes

Feb 18, 2014

Francis J. Keefe, Editor-in-Chief

PAIN’s goal always has been to publish the best basic and applied science research in the field of pain. To continue to meet this goal, PAIN needs to explore new and emerging opportunities to serve the field of pain research, our readers, and IASP’s broad membership.

Readers and authors may have noticed several recent steps we have taken to enhance the journal. First, we have made a concerted effort to speed up the time of review. As a result, the average time from submission to first decision has dropped from an average of 38.7 days in 2012 to an average of 20.1 days (as of fall 2013). This is a substantial reduction and will be welcome news to authors seeking a timely review and first decision when they submit to PAIN

Second, we have developed several new series. A special commentary format titled “Bridging the Gaps” focuses on a target article published in that issue of PAIN and highlights the implications of the methods and findings for basic and applied scientists alike. The rationale for “Bridging the Gaps” commentaries is that they may enable our readers to better understand the links between basic and applied pain research.

Next, a new review format titled “Pain Classics” highlights influential research papers published in PAIN (or elsewhere), places them in a broader context, and appraises how this work created an enduring legacy—something especially important to emerging generations of pain researchers and readers. In future issues, we will launch a series of review and commentary articles that present public policy and health policy issues of importance to basic and applied pain research. Readers interested in submitting articles for any of these series should contact me or one of the section editors.

We also have formed an advisory group of basic and applied scientists, as well as clinicians, to further enhance PAIN’s development through input to the editorial board and IASP leaders. The members had several phone meetings over the past year and met as a group at IASP headquarters in fall 2013. The group identified 10 high-priority initiatives that, along with other suggestions, will form the basis of a strategic plan to guide the journal’s development in the coming years. We already are working closely with our publisher and in most cases have made progress in implementing many of the changes listed here.

  1. Improve the PAIN website. Make the website more user friendly and include features such as podcasts based on PAIN articles, article summaries, and “Meet the Investigators” features. Expand the number of “Editors’ Choice” articles available as free downloads. Enhance PAIN’s social media presence to enable Twitter, Facebook, and email feeds of highlighted articles.
  2. Highlight PAIN’s open-access publication option. PAIN offers authors the option to publish in an open-access format, though some readers may be unaware of this. We are working on ways to make this option more apparent to authors. 
  3. Refresh PAIN’s table of contents online more frequently. Enable readers to scan and download articles of interest as soon as possible. We are currently working on potential formats for this feature and exploring biweekly publication.
  4. Create “PAIN Pictured.” Develop a new brief report format consisting of a high-quality infographic that depicts novel findings, mechanisms, or concepts. An accompanying one-page article would describe the figure, and readers would be able to download the figure and article.
  5. Develop an annual review of PAIN. Consider publishing an annual review, tentatively titled “PAIN: [year]” or “The Year in PAIN: [year],” in both IASP World Congress and non-Congress years. Review types could include state-of-the-science reviews, comprehensive and systematic reviews, and topical reviews written specifically for the annual review issue or reviews generated from IASP-sponsored symposia. 
  6. Recognize more prominently highly cited and highly downloaded papers. Ensure that all authors, reviewers, the editorial board, and IASP members are aware of PAIN’s most highly cited and downloaded papers.
  7. Publish PAIN in languages other than English. Identify national pain societies that may be interested in publishing a sponsored alternative language version of PAIN that would include selected, recently published articles. In addition, explore publishing editor’s choice articles or article abstracts in other languages.
  8. Clarify and make more prominent our standards for academic misconduct. Make authors and readers more aware of PAIN’s standards with regard to academic misconduct, and highlight our guidelines and best practices regarding conflict of interest, criteria for authorship, plagiarism, and fraud. Updated guidelines now appear on PAIN’s website.
  9. Enhance the review process. Improve further the speed and quality of the manuscript review process and provide regular reports on the results. We already have made significant progress in reducing the time for reviews and are working on new ways to rate the quality of reviews.
  10. Increase the variety of topical reviews, especially on basic science, and improve the quality of figures. Readers should soon see the results of Section Editor Fiona Blyth’s efforts to implement these changes.

On behalf of PAIN and IASP, I thank all the members of the advisory group for the impressive commitment, energy, and creativity they have brought to the task. With their help, I am confident we will change the face of PAIN in ways that enable us to continue to meet the needs of our readers.