February 10, 2020

The successes of the reinvigoration and the vision for the next four years

The Journal of the World Aquaculture Society (JWAS) is a special publication among the aquaculture literature. It is a scientific journal “devoted to the advancement of technological innovations and solutions to major issues facing the growth of global aquaculture.” It is also a society publication and represents the World Aquaculture Society (WAS) membership and the Society's goals to disseminate high quality information, “focusing on global aquaculture science, growth of aquaculture industries, and development and growth of sustainable aquaculture enterprises of all scales.” The journal must therefore fulfill goals of scientific value and performance as well as satisfy the valid demands of the society membership.

This has not always been an easy task. In 2014, the journal had reached a nadir in recent levels of impact and satisfaction of society members that called for urgent action to gain renewed strength. Thus, four years ago the JWAS set out on a journey of reinvigoration with the aim of improving impact and membership satisfaction, with Carole Engle as the new Executive Editor and three fresh Section Editors, Lou D'Abramo, Matthew Slater, and A.J. Ponniah (who subsequently stepped down for family reasons and was replaced by Chenhong Li). A number of initiatives were launched to reduce reviewer fatigue, beginning with a dramatic increase in the level of early vetting of manuscripts by the editing team. New manuscript categories—reviews, applied studies, and fundamental studies—were introduced to offer a clearer structure to the issues published, and the journal was modernized in terms of design and article management. Editors appealed to the journal base and solicited strong reviews and high‐interest papers; these have been combined with editorials exploring the future of aquaculture in a dynamic world. We drew attention to selected papers with a series of Editor's Choice selections from each issue published and coverage in the society magazine, World Aquaculture

These efforts have been highly successful. The feedback from journal subscribers and members and the recent member survey showed the success of rejuvenation, as the percentage of members who consider the journal an important member benefit rose from 66 to 77%, while the members who saw the journal as an outlet for significant publications rose from 67 to 86%. The standard measure of ISI journal impact factor has also doubled from 0.7 to 1.4 over the past 4 years.

Meeting the dual needs and expectations of the WAS membership, increased impact factor and supporting growth of sustainable aquaculture globally, is a bit of a tightrope to walk. Increased impact factor, while the most widely recognized and used metrics of scientific impact of a journal, can, however, be a game, with some less reputable journals engaging in ways to artificially inflate scores. Impact factor can be a clear measure of the strength and impactful dissemination of the science published by a journal, but only if the focus remains on the highest scientific standards, thematic quality, and actuality. This is the path we will continue to take with JWAS, and incremental impact increases can be expected. 

Meeting the needs of the members and the society means covering a broad range of truly global themes in aquaculture science and in aquaculture businesses, but also those of the broader society that creates the context and demand for aquaculture. The strong linkage of JWAS to applied and applicable science to grow global aquaculture will be maintained. JWAS will continue to draw strongly from the membership and publish science fulfilling industry and enterprise needs. Consolidating this improved status and further building on the successful reinvigoration to date is the challenge for the next four years. Continued improvement in levels of impact factor and member satisfaction remain the central goals, and the successful measures taken over the past few years will be continued. Outlined below are the current focusses of the Editorial Board for the coming years: 

1 SOLICITING STRONG PAPERS AND REVIEWS FROM THE MEMBER BASE AS WELL AS EXPANDING THE NETWORK OF AUTHORS WHO CONTRIBUTE TO JWAS

A strong WAS membership provides a powerful base for the journal, but only if members, especially the strongest and most experienced, are willing to provide appropriate support in the form of content, that is, impactful papers. We, as editors, will continue to solicit highest impact papers and reviews on key topics from top authors among the WAS membership. We will approach you with suggestions and questions, but we are also delighted to hear your ideas for quality reviews and we look forward to receiving your strong manuscripts which contribute to the Society's goals.

We will also continue to solicit high‐impact papers from authors outside the WAS network, to expand the breadth and scope of the contribution that JWAS makes to the growth and development of aquaculture globally. We look forward to hearing from scientists, aquaculture businesspeople, and others related to new review papers and the latest and most critical research results. 

2 MODERNIZING ACCESS TO THE JOURNAL FOR ALL

The journal has moved to primarily online/digital membership with a large early‐view section of upcoming articles and a modern new design online and in print. This new design and format will be further extended with a mobile application for access on Android and Apple devices. The efforts so far have vastly increased the number of article downloads. We expect, in particular, younger researchers will find a mobile app more suited to their article browsing and reading habits.

3 SPECIAL ISSUES

Focusing on key topics is a successful way to communicate advances in a more comprehensive and comparable way. We will continue to solicit high‐quality special issues edited by leading scientists covering key topics. These will replace regular issues in many cases and draw attention to areas of focus selected by the Editorial Board.

4 TOPICAL EDITORIALS

As editors, we are able to provide overviews of topics that are novel and/or growing in terms of scientific interest and practical importance for aquaculture in the form of an editorial in each issue. Recently, we have released topical editorials outlining our vision of aquaculture in the year 2050, asking about the research challenges facing aquaculture in a warming climate, and challenging the practice of “salami” publishing. We will continue to raise important issues for aquaculture candidly and in an investigative manner in the coming years.

5 PROMOTION OF TOP ARTICLES

In each issue, we select articles to be highlighted with infographics produced by Scite (www.scite.pt). These infographics summarize key results and draw attention to exciting new advances. They are highly effective in improving article awareness and access. These will become a permanent aspect of our article promotion. Editor's Choice papers from each issue and Wiley featured articles are promoted on the journal website and on the Wiley site, and are also placed on our Twitter and other social media accounts.

6 NEW INITIATIVES

In the future, we will be offering closer access to our editorial team at conferences, including Meet‐the‐Editor sessions, special sessions on pressing topics from society members, and organizing workshops on publication ethics, research design, and tips for young scientists.

Initiatives to improve the Impact and to fulfill the journal's commitment to society members are paramount, but there are many open questions for the future of the journal. In the future, there will be a need for candid discussion about ethical concerns in publishing. Increasing levels of plagiarism, salami publishing, excessive multi‐authoring, and many other serious concerns related to scientific publication in a world of misinformation have led to large publishers (like Wiley, who publishes JWAS) hosting events titled “How do we fix research.” There will, even more importantly, be a series of rapid changes in access choices by users, access choices by authors, publication expectations by funders, and desired journal formats by publishing houses. Meeting change with wise initiatives and a vision for the future of the journal is a key challenge for the Editorial Board. We enjoy meeting these challenges, and further challenge you to support your journal.

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