Interview with Martin Smith, MBBS, the newly appointed Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology

By Reza Gorji, MD
SUNY Upstate Medical University

Dr. Smith
Martin Smith, MBBS

Reza Gorji, MD:  How did your appointment of Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology come about?

Martin Smith: After almost 30 years at the helm of the Journal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology, Dr. Jim Cottrell and Dr. John Hartung decided to step down as Editor-in-Chief and Associate Editor, respectively, at the end of 2017. The publisher and owner of the Journal, Wolters Kluwer, recruited a new Editor-in-Chief via a competitive process with input from SNACC. It was a privilege and honour to be offered the post, which I took on January 1.

This is an opportune moment to thank Dr. Cottrell and Dr. Hartung for their service to JNA and our specialty over so many years. Their vision and commitment have allowed the Journal to flourish under their leadership; its Impact Factor is 4.026 and the Journal reaches more than 3,000 individuals and institutions around the world. Theirs will be a hard act to follow.

Reza Gorji:  What is your vision for the JNA in the future?

Martin Smith: While building on the solid base of original clinical and basic neuroscience research and high-quality reviews that have been the hallmark of JNA since its inception, I will introduce new content which I hope will broaden the appeal of the Journal.

I plan a series of concise, state-of-the-art review articles which will summarize recent advances in a particular field, provide the latest evidence and, where appropriate, focused advice for clinical management. I anticipate that the first of these short reviews will appear in JNA before the end of 2018.

I will also identify new directions, including into the more novel areas of clinical practice which are gaining traction in our specialty. I believe that the JNA, like SNACC, should embrace the ‘three pillars’ of neuroanesthesiology recently described by George Mashour,  the immediate Past President of SNACC– (i) clinical neuroanesthesia and neurocritical care, (ii) foundational neuroscience of anesthesiology and brain injury, and (iii) neurologic outcomes after non-neurologic surgery and critical illness. In this way it is my ambition that JNA becomes the natural home for high-quality original research and review articles in the rapidly expanding area of perioperative neuroscience.

Reza Gorji:  What are your biggest tasks and challenges as the Editor-in-Chief?

Martin Smith: In simple terms, having sufficient high-quality manuscripts to fill each issue of the Journal!

I have no control over submissions so can only work to provide an environment which encourages authors to choose JNA for their work. The success of the Journal depends on consolidating and increasing its readership, and this in turn depends on high-quality and relevant content as well as ease of access. Specifically, the JNA must be an invaluable resource to those working in both basic and clinical neuroscience.

Maintaining and increasing the Journal’s Impact Factor is also a key challenge. While I am generally against developing editorial policy with the sole purpose of increasing the IF, it is important to consider any effect that proposed changes to Journal content may have on it. My ambition, of course, is to maintain the upward trend in the IF set by Drs. Cottrell and Hartung.

Reza Gorji:  JNA is already a great resource for neuroscientists. Are you planning to implement changes to attract more high-quality research work to be published in JNA?

Martin Smith: One of my key aims is to increase submissions to the Journal while maintaining the quality and timeliness of its output.

The higher Impact Factor will likely drive the submission of more and higher quality manuscripts to JNA, but authors also seek a speedy and high-quality review process. I am keen to reduce the time taken for review so that the Journal can offer a decision about manuscripts that is as rapid as any competitor, and more rapid than some, while continuing to provide high-quality peer review. This will require huge commitment from the Editorial Board and the Board of Reviewers, but I am confident that, working together, this can be achieved. JNA always needs new reviewers so please contact me with your areas of interest if you are interested in serving the Journal in this way.

Reza Gorji:  What role does JNA play for SNACC members and SNACC outreach?

Martin Smith: JNA is the official Journal of SNACC, and I am keen to develop closer ties for the Society and its members. I am pleased that Dr. Jeff Pasternak, the current SNACC President, shares my ambition for closer liaison and I will be working with him over the coming months to identify how we might best achieve this. A short ‘JNA Year in Review’ session is planned for this year’s SNACC Annual Meeting, when I will be able to update attendees about various issues. I will also continue to encourage SNACC and the other international affiliate societies to publish their clinical guidelines and meeting abstracts in the Journal.

JNA currently has limited social media presence, and I am keen to develop this in association with SNACC, as well as identify new technologies and formats for presentation of Journal content. I will be seeking to appoint a social media editor during this year. Please contact me if you are interested in taking on this role.

The future success of JNA does not lie only in the hands of its Editor-in-Chief; members of the Editorial Board, Board of Reviewers, authors, readers and the SNACC membership all have their part to play. Therefore, and as we look to the future, I encourage you to support JNA in whatever way you can. I can be reached at: martin.smith@ucl.ac.uk.

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