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It has been an opportune time to look critically at how things are done at Emergency Medicine Australasia (EMA) and 2012 might well go down as heralding the ‘year of change’ for EMA. Thus, although it is clear that changing how clinicians practise remains a challenge,[1] changing how the journal delivers content and interacts with the emergency medicine community is eminently achievable.

A Strategic Planning Day, held in early September 2012, enabled robust discussion between representatives of the journal, the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) and our publisher around the findings from a survey sent to the EMA Section Editors, Editorial Board, authors and ACEM/Australasian Society for Emergency Medicine (ASEM) members and readers. The response rate for this voluntary anonymous survey was considerably better than the previous EMA Readership Survey conducted in early 2010 that attracted only 61 respondents. This time, a total of 601 participants (20 of 34 Section Editors [59%]; 8 of 21 Editorial Board members [28%]; 83 authors of papers accepted since 2010; and 470 ACEM/ASEM members and readers) provided extensive feedback, including many invaluable comments.[2] These survey findings indicated that EMA is generally regarded as being relevant to Australasian emergency medicine research and clinical practice, with a range of helpful suggestions and comments received regarding opportunities for improving and enhancing the journal.

Nine strategic goals were identified to guide future development of EMA with a recurring theme of better engagement with the Australasian emergency medicine community who value the journal, and to increase ACEM members' involvement in journal production and content. Also highlighted was the need to seek a balance between research and educational content within the journal that still remains free from drug company advertising,[3] and to build on the already rapid editorial response time (median of 21 days) to submitted papers to ensure that authors see EMA as a journal of choice in terms of publishing quality and service.

EMA looks forward to continuing to promote the best Australasian emergency medicine research, safe in the knowledge that the journal competes strongly in the international arena, and more importantly, reaches a large, like-minded and energetic readership. Those of you interested in the Impact Factor (IF) will know that our latest IF, released in mid-June, which had risen to 1.089 from 0.901 last year, dropped back to 0.979. However, EMA retained its ranking at 13th with the total number of journals in the ISI Journal Citation Reports®: Emergency Medicine Category rising from 23 to 24. Much more surprising was that, with one exception, every single journal above EMA also had a decrease in IF value and seven of 12 dropped a place or more in the rankings.[4] This suggests that in 2011, across almost all the emergency journals, either the number of citations to articles published in 2009 and 2010 fell, and/or more articles were published in total or were included in the denominator. Although 2011 was a disappointing year in IF terms for many, EMA included, this should not detract from recognising the quality and relevance of papers being published in our journal, including, for example, articles on access block and ED overcrowding,[5] the 4 h target (National Emergency Access Target – NEAT),[6] prehospital fluid management in traumatic brain injury,[7] the emerging role of intravenous lipid emulsion[8] and the challenge of increases in intern numbers.[9, 10]

Looking ahead to next year and beyond, a number of improvements to journal format and delivery are planned. New graphics for EMA with a more modern font and a fresher layout are being developed. In addition, readers who want to cease receiving a hard copy will be able to ‘opt-out’, once the business model is finalised. Meanwhile, a new app released by Wiley-Blackwell will be made available to EMA readers during 2013, which will significantly improve access to journal content on mobile devices.[11]

Promoting the symbiosis and interactivity between the journal and other online content was also identified as a strategic goal. This builds on recent dialogue within EMA on the role of social media,[12, 13] which is challenging the passive model of publishing papers: initially online with a doi number followed by an increasingly long delay to publication in a hard copy issue. This model is now at risk of rapidly becoming obsolete, being replaced by far more responsive and interactive online publishing models with supplemental content ‘print short – online long’, open access, podcasts, blogs, real-time comments allowing immediate feedback, Continuing Professional Development quizzes and polls, all with rapid information sharing on social media platforms, such as TwitterTM (San Francisco, CA, USA) and FacebookTM (Menlo Park, CA, USA). At EMA, we will definitely be adopting a more progressive attitude to research, education and publishing.[14] Other journals have also recognised the role of social media,[15] and many, including EMA, are now developing electronic content for mobile device use and interactive multimedia capability. Initial forays by the EMA editorial team, including brief editorial summaries highlighting key articles and free online content, were introduced in 2012. This content was specifically produced for social media and is currently published on the LifeintheFastLane medical education blog, linked to online publication of the current issue of the journal.[16] EMA also has an active Twitter account (@EMAJournal) with a dedicated interactive website http://emajournal.org/ under development. These initiatives, which leverage off the academic standing and peer-review capabilities of the journal, will enable access to multidimensional content that is relevant to the Australasian emergency medicine community.

Our specialty stands at the vanguard of acute healthcare and is growing and evolving rapidly. As Sklar et al. envisage when predicting how emergency medicine might progress, EDs of the future will learn more about and research into time-sensitive conditions, develop standardised disease management protocols and guidelines, and will make greater use of technology for information management as well as diagnosis.[17] It is indeed a good time to recognise that change is an opportunity to progress, not a hurdle to be met. We hope EMA will maximise the benefits it can offer, to our local as well as our expanding international readership, as we showcase and now debate real-time the best Australasian emergency medicine research and clinical developments.

Competing interests

AFTB is Editor-in-Chief of Emergency Medicine Australasia, and AG is Journal Manager of Emergency Medicine Australasia.

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