Happy New Year! The past year has seen some changes to JCN and 2005 will see more. The main achievement in 2004 was the increased production from six to eight issues and in 2005 this will increase to 10. The past year has also seen changes in the production style of the journal. The most obvious change was to the cover but there have also been changes inside and these have continued as suggestions for improvement have been made. The layout is now more open and, we hope, easier to read. The papers have structured abstracts in which the relevance to clinical practice has to be specified and, at the end of the refereed papers, we now request that the authors responsible for study design, data collection and analysis and manuscript preparation are indicated by initial. The reason for this is to ensure that each named author can claim to have made a specific contribution and, alternatively, that someone who may have made a significant contribution to the study (such as data collection) is not excluded from authorship. These criteria apply to all refereed papers: for example, in review papers data collection and analysis is the systematic retrieval and reading of the literature and should be acknowledged as such.
Another new feature of JCN which first appeared in 2004, but which will be much more evident in 2005, is the commentaries on papers and the responses to the commentaries. We believe that it is important to provide a forum for such comment and to seek out specific experts in the relevant fields to provide comment on important papers. As will be seen, not all of the comments are positive about the papers we have published; it would hardly be worth having a commentary section if this was the case. It is hoped that providing original authors with the opportunity to respond will satisfy them that the system is fair. It is also hoped that the original authors will learn from the process and that reviewers and the Editor will also learn. Editing the commentaries and responses, most of which have still to be published, has been both a pleasure and a learning experience for me and it has served to illustrate that the reviewing process is no guarantee of perfection either in design, analysis or interpretation of the original studies which are submitted to JCN. However, the reviewing process is still vital and, in my view, its primary purpose is to improve what is published in the journal. In addition to the usual expert subject or methodological reviewers, JCN has introduced a panel of statistical reviewers and their names are published inside the front cover of each issue. Contrary to my original worry that the introduction of statistical reviewers would lead to the rejection of a greater number of papers, it has definitely led to an improvement in the papers with a statistical content that are published.
International content of JCN
I was very pleased to see that JCN featured in a recent paper (Dougherty et al. 2004) analysing the international content of high-ranking nursing journals. The analysis looked at issues published in 2000 and according to all the criteria applied by Dougherty et al., JCN is an international journal. We have an international Editorial Board, we express international aspirations in our aims and objectives and, while the analysis was carried out in 2002, these features remain and have been enhanced. JCN now has two Assistant Editors: Merilyn Annells, La Trobe University, Australia, for the Southern Hemisphere and Elaine Amella, Medical University of South Carolina, USA, for North America. According to a recent analysis, 75% of the refereed papers we publish are from outside the UK with the welcome appearance of papers from Turkey, Iran, Brazil and South Korea. In addition, the impact factor of JCN for 2003 has improved from 0.497 to 0.653 and this is the highest it has ever been. The impact factor is an important measure of the extent to which papers in the journal are cited elsewhere and JCN is now ranked 14th out of 31 nursing journals in the world according to this measure of quality. Ian Atkinson, University of Teesside, UK, has joined JCN specifically to edit the research in brief column and, while these contributions are not refereed in the usual way, the majority of contributions are from outside the UK.
Contributing to JCN
Submitting original papers is only one way of contributing to the work of JCN. We welcome editorials, commentaries, research in brief and book reviews. Please send any contributions to the editorial office (email@example.com) and if you wish to review books please contact the Book Reviews Editor, Kate Wilson (firstname.lastname@example.org). In addition, you are welcome to enquire about becoming a reviewer for JCN and such enquiries should be directed to the editorial office.