JBC's New Year's resolutions: Check them off!

Open AccessPublished:December 29, 2017DOI:
      ’Tis the season to make resolutions for the upcoming year and to look back at the plans made for the year we are ringing out. Our central goal, regardless of year, is to enhance JBC’s ability to advance biological chemistry, writ large. So let’s see how this goal maps onto our New Year’s resolutions, past and future. And while this season is upon us, we invite you—the readers and authors who rely on JBC—to propose additional resolutions. If you do not see that we have identified enhancements needed to our journal, let us know at [email protected] . We will listen!

      2017 resolutions

      • We resolved to keep scientists in charge. We’re proud that JBC’s rigorous review is carried out by practicing researchers at all levels. This resolution is at the heart of JBC’s mission.
      • We resolved to keep turnaround times for manuscript review short. Having a committed slate of editorial board members means that the review process at JBC moves quickly! Authors can expect to receive the first decision on their Regular Articles in an average of 21 days, whereas authors of Accelerated Communications learn their paper’s fate in an average of only 12 days! In addition, almost half of our 2017 Accelerated Communications went from submission to online publication in a month or less! We are proud that JBC is moving science forward with minimal delay, while maintaining rigorous review standards.
      • We resolved to be guardians of the rigor and reproducibility of papers published in JBC and to publish papers that stand the test of time. We’ve hired new staff and redesigned our manuscript workflows so we can more responsibly curate the science we’re publishing. By performing image analysis checks on all articles prior to acceptance, and thus catching potential problems prior to publication, “JBC joins the ranks of other journals that have taken a proactive stance against image problems, including manipulation” ().
      • We resolved to alleviate pain points and improve the author experience. We’ve made changes throughout the submission process, such as allowing initial submissions to forgo detailed formatting and/or be transferred directly from bioRxiv, transitioning to eJournalPress, which offers JBC a more versatile manuscript submission system, and streamlining our instructions for authors so you can get the information you need without distractions. We’ve also created a new Author Resources site () that captures basic best practices to help new scientists get experimental design and execution right from the start and provides advanced tips for seasoned scientists to better communicate and present their data.
      • We resolved to improve the readability and discoverability of work published in JBC. We’ve scaled up a pilot project to provide authors with editorial suggestions from scientifically trained staff on the titles and abstracts of all papers under revision to improve their clarity and reach, and we’ve hired new staff to help communicate JBC’s great content via curated emails, press releases, and more. We’ve also teamed up with new partners such as TrendMD, ReadCube, and Meta to disseminate JBC papers across multiple platforms.
      • We resolved to take full advantage of our relationship with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. We’re bringing JBC to the ASBMB annual meeting by giving speaking opportunities to young scientists who are publishing great work in the journal (
        • Gierasch L.M.
        • DeMartino G.
        The Herbert Tabor Best Paper Awards: Celebrating young authors who contribute top content to JBC.
        ) and offering workshops on data presentation and standards, as well as bringing the meeting to our readers by working with ASBMB awardees to capture their contributions on the pages of JBC. We’re contributing content to ASBMB Today like Data Integrity Manager Kaoru Sakabe’s “Due Diligence” articles () and Science Communicator Alexandra Mushegian’s “From the Journals” briefs (), and we’re working with ASBMB’s newsroom to spread the word about new scientific advances and other changes at JBC.
      Clearly, these resolutions encompass enduring goals that we will continue to work toward. And we have some new resolutions moving forward into 2018 that we are excited to let you in on!!

      2018 resolutions

      [Note: I like to make lists where I can scratch off a few entries right away … and this list is like that! We’ve already made inroads into our 2018 resolutions, as you’ll see by the check marks.]
      • We resolve to keep science in the hands of scientists. As of 1 January 2018, when you submit a manuscript to JBC, you will be asked to give JBC the license to publish your work rather than transferring copyright. JBC has had an extremely lenient copyright policy for quite some time, allowing authors to reuse their work in any way they want. However, we also know that retaining ownership of your hard-fought results is part and parcel of modern scientific practice, so it was time for a change.
      • We resolve to help authors publish colorful papers. Starting with January 1, 2018 submissions, there is no charge added to your publication costs for color figures. Although counterintuitively there are some real costs associated with preparation of digital color figures, we don’t want to discourage you from communicating your data in the best way possible.
      • We resolve to explore new technology and tools for discoverability and adopt them when they will help advance the science of JBC’s community. We have implemented current technologies, such as displaying usage statistics and Altmetrics for each article, and are staying on top of new opportunities that will further enhance the impact of scientific publication.
      • We resolve to be transparent about our finances (
        • Gierasch L.M.
        On the costs of scientific publishing.
        ). Like many journals, JBC is experiencing increased costs at a time when revenue from subscriptions is threatened by belt-tightening at many institutions. Simultaneously, as illustrated above, the quality and impact of JBC are benefiting from investments to improve the review process, author experience, readability, and discoverability. The consequence is that a small increase in the page charges to publish in JBC was unavoidable and will go into effect for January 2018 submissions. We hope you agree that the investments we’re making in JBC’s future outweigh this modest change, and we will continue to share our financial considerations with you in the future.
      • We resolve to foster more connections throughout the biological chemistry community. Because of its history, JBC has a strong legacy of editors, authors, and readers from the U.S. However, JBC is also the chosen home for science from researchers around the world. We want to ensure that JBC’s policies and practices are responsive to and reflective of this geographic diversity. Among our new associate editors are leading biological chemists Qi-Qun Tang from China and Mike Shipston from Scotland. JBC’s representatives will be reaching out at international conferences and institutions, and we are looking forward to facilitating the communication of your scientific advances, wherever you are, in 2018.
      • We resolve to keep resolving! We are engaging in an intensive strategic planning exercise to look to the future of JBC in a world of scientific publishing that is evolving and witnessing unprecedented scientific advances.
      The progress we've made on these resolutions and our ability to dream big about what the future holds has required tireless work by many. Conveniently, 'tis also the season to express gratitude! I want to give my heartfelt thanks to JBC's amazing editorial team and its talented and hard-working staff. Also, deep thanks to our wonderful authors who entrust JBC with their research, and to readers who appreciate the great science published in JBC and have confidence in JBC's reputation for rigor. We're excited to see what 2018 holds in store for JBC as we continue to work to serve the biological chemistry community and to improve scientific publishing for all.




        • Gierasch L.M.
        • DeMartino G.
        The Herbert Tabor Best Paper Awards: Celebrating young authors who contribute top content to JBC.
        J. Biol. Chem. 2017; 292: 17576


        • Gierasch L.M.
        On the costs of scientific publishing.
        J. Biol. Chem. 2017; 292: 16395-16396