New Phytologist will be 110 years old in 2012, and the journal continues to go from strength to strength. I am sure that our authors and readers will have noted that our ISI impact factor for 2010, announced in June 2011, was 6.516, continuing the impressive upward trend of recent years and placing New Phytologist third in the list of primary research journals in the plant sciences (Thomson Reuters, 2011).
This success is attributable to a number of things. First, there is the willingness of our authors to submit to us their best work, and a willingness of our community of advisors and reviewers to provide high-quality reports. Second, there is the quality of our Editors, who make the judgements that allow us to publish novel, rigorous and timely science, to recognize and promote emerging areas, and to encourage progress and innovation. Third, there is the commitment of our Central Office team, who provide an excellent service to authors, reviewers and readers at all stages of publication – something that a not-for-profit journal such as New Phytologist is particularly well placed to do. And finally, there is the willingness of the Editors of New Phytologist and the not-for-profit New Phytologist Trust, which owns the journal, to embrace change to ensure that the journal is a leader in innovative plant science publishing.
With this in mind, 2012 will see another important change designed to enhance the standing of the journal and further improve the quality of our provision to authors and readers. From January 2012, New Phytologist will cease to exist in print form, and will only be available in electronic form online.
Several interacting factors have prompted this decision. First, and most importantly, is our recognition that it is the online version of the journal that is increasingly used by the overwhelming majority of our readers. There is clear evidence for this in the 1 million article downloads from New Phytologist in 2010. Almost 90% of our subscribers now choose the online-only version of the journal (an increase from 50% in 2007). We therefore wish to concentrate our attention and resources on enhancing the reach and functionality of the online journal.
Second, we recognize the problems for subscribers of storing and accessing the print copy of the journal, particularly as it has almost doubled in size over the past 10 years. Of course, there are concerns about the mutability and archiving of the ‘version of record’ of the articles that we publish when they no longer exist in print form, but fortunately our publishers, Wiley-Blackwell, are at the forefront of initiatives in this area. For example, all of our online content is preserved in long-term digital archives such as CLOCKKS (http://www.clockss.org/clockss/Home) and Portico (http://www.portico.org/digital-preservation/) and Wiley-Blackwell are working closely with CrossRef to introduce a new initiative that certifies the online version of record; ‘CrossMark’ (http://www.crossref.org/crossmark.html).
Third, the printing, binding and distribution costs of the journal have risen significantly in recent years. By going online-only, thereby avoiding these costs, we will be able both to minimize increases in the cost of New Phytologist to subscribers and to free up some revenue to maintain the quality of the service we offer and further invest in the promotion of plant science (see http://www.newphytologist.org for details of how the New Phytologist Trust promotes plant science).
Fourthly, but not least importantly, moving to online-only reduces the carbon footprint of the journal.
New Phytologist online
In preparation for the move to online-only we have been looking at the best ways to improve the functionality of the online journal. For example, we recently completed an online survey of authors, reviewers and readers and we are currently engaged in a number of focus group discussions. If you want to get involved in this dialogue, and have any suggestions or feedback about New Phytologist online, please contact Holly Slater, the Managing Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Some enhancements to the online journal (at http://www.newphytologist.com) are standard across all journals hosted on our publisher’s platform, Wiley Online Library (WOL), launched in August 2010. The primary objective in designing WOL has been to provide a ‘clean and simple’ journal platform that allows the reader to navigate easily to, and around, content. So, for example, you can jump between different sections of an article, export citations into a reference managing system, or link directly to Supporting Information and cited references (Fig. 1). The ‘Article Tools’ box (top right-hand corner of each article page) allows you to perform a number of tasks including saving the article to your personal profile on WOL and article-sharing/bookmarking via social networks, such as Mendeley (http://www.mendeley.com) and CiteUlike (http://www.citeulike.org). These sites combine free reference managing with academic social networking to help you organize and discover scholarly articles. You can also ‘find more content like this’ and download figures in PowerPoint format for teaching and lecturing. Looking across to the left-hand side of the WOL webpages you will see a ‘Journal Menu’ that is specific to New Phytologist. Here you can go direct to some of the more frequently used information, such as the Author Guidelines, Current Issue and Editorial Board information, or jump to the New Phytologist‘Journal Home’ page (http://www.newphytologist.com).
This homepage provides access to a range of journal content (Fig. 2). Here you have a live feed to the latest articles on Early View as well as the highlights of the current issue. Although, in principle, an online-only journal can dispense with issues, our market research has shown that readers value issue-based publication and we have therefore decided to retain this format. The composition of issues will be determined in the traditional way as papers come through, but we are committed to increase value and interest at this stage through commissioning Reviews and Forum articles, which complement the original research. Our aim is to highlight particularly exciting papers, and also to stimulate interest across subject areas, making the work as widely accessible as possible. We will also be retaining the typeset PDF, which our feedback confirms as the most popular format for reading journal articles both on screen and in hard copy.
New Phytologist has regularly produced themed issues that focus on areas of current importance and from the homepage you can navigate to all current and past collections of Special and Virtual Issues (http://bit.ly/NewPhytVirtualIssue). Special Issues contain new original research papers in a particular well-defined subject area along with a Forum section, in-depth Tansley reviews and/or concise Research reviews in the same area. These issues support the research community by bringing together timely, high-quality research and opinion in a given field. Virtual Special Issues (VSIs), by contrast, contain a collection of related articles sourced from previous issues of New Phytologist. By pulling these papers together with an up-to-date Editorial we can make them more visible and conveniently accessible to our readers and, hopefully, encourage further research in areas that we think are important. The latest VSIs are packaged in ‘flippable PDFs’ that allow the reader to flip through the Table of Contents and abstracts, as if reading a book, and link out to the full text articles – see, for example, the VSI on ‘Pathogenic plant–fungus interactions’ (Panstruga, 2010). Within our regular issues we also publish sets of Featured articles, which are also highlighted and can be reached directly from the homepage (http://bit.ly/NewPhytSpecialFeature). Recent examples include ‘Pollinator-mediated selection and floral evolution’ (Sapir & Armbruster, 2010) and ‘Carbon cycling in tropical ecosystems’ (Norby, 2011).
The News and Highlights section of the homepage gives the latest journal-related information such as most accessed articles, current processing times, press releases, news on the most recent Special Issue, updates on the Tansley Medal for Excellence in Plant Science (see Woodward & Hetherington, 2010, 2011) or Symposia and Workshops that the Trust is supporting. Although there will no longer be a print version of New Phytologist, and therefore no ‘cover’, we will maintain an online cover gallery so that we can continue to showcase the spectacular images that our authors provide in association with their research.
We hope you continue to use and enjoy this long-established, but successful and forward-looking, journal in its latest manifestation, and look forward to developing New Phytologist in collaboration with you, and in response to the evolving needs of the plant science community.