From the Chief Executive Officer: AUA Scholarly Publishing: Past, Present and Future

By: Michael T. Sheppard, CPA, CAE | Posted on: 05 Oct 2021

One of the AUA’s proudest traditions is our scholarly publishing program. We trace our commitment to publishing the most important urological research in the field back to 1917, when Hugh Hampton Young, MD founded The Journal of Urology®. For more than 100 years, The Journal of Urology®, the flagship peer-reviewed journal of the AUA, has covered the wide scope of urology, including pediatric urology, urologic oncology, renal transplantation, male infertility, calculi, female urology and neurourology. Today, The Journal remains the most highly cited in all of urology. This incredible, long-lasting feat is attributed to The Journal’s superior editors. At the end of 2021, Joseph A. Smith, Jr., MD will complete his formidable service as The Journal’s 10th editor-in-chief. During his remarkable tenure, The Journal has seen its highest Journal Impact Factor, 7.45, in 2020 (reported in June 2021). Most importantly, though, Dr. Smith has elevated our pledge to publishing the best of urological research. In 2020, despite the pandemic, The Journal saw its highest number of submissions ever, with almost 3,000 manuscripts considered for publication. Dr. Smith has spent all of 2021 collaborating with his successor, Robert Siemens, MD, FRCSC, who will do an excellent job of guiding the legacy of The Journal of Urology® into the future.

As the need for outlets for urological publications continued, the AUA responded by launching Urology Practice® in 2014. This publication focuses on the clinical trends, challenges and practice applications in the areas of business, health policy, the specialty and patient care, providing a peer-reviewed outlet for information that can be used in everyday practice by the health care community. Urology Practice®, under the leadership of J. Stephen Jones, MD, FACS, MBA, saw an impressive 59% increase in submissions in 2020 over 2019.

And of course AUANews serves a vital role in the AUA family of scholarly publications. As part of his duties as AUA Secretary, John Denstedt, MD, FACS, FRCSC has taken our membership newsletter to another level, featuring critical membership news and clinical content. In the past year, Dr. Denstedt has overseen the redesign of the print version of AUANews. At the end of July, launched. This enhanced AUANews online platform allows our readers to search archived content, download the full print issue and share individual articles via Twitter, email and more.

For all AUA publications, our editorial office staff members provide superior customer service to our editors, peer reviewers and authors. Team members oversee an outstanding peer review process and provide the best in-house production and copyediting. Additionally, the AUA constantly examines the length of the review process, how to recognize our outstanding reviewers and the importance of the best author experience possible. Our communications team coordinates with our team of physician online content editors to amplify the research of our authors via our robust social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Our marketing team disseminates content from our publications via multiple avenues, including targeted membership emails. When it comes time for authors to submit research, we want them to remember their past experiences publishing with us and come to us first with that important work. Similarly, for first-time authors, we want them to see how hard we work to promote our articles and to make the publication process as easy as possible.

Looking to the future, the AUA is pleased to announce the restructured Publications Committee, which will be chaired by Raj Pruthi, MD, MHA, FACS. This newly restructured committee will begin meeting this fall. The Publications Committee will act in an advisory capacity to the Board of Directors on all non-editorial aspects of the AUA’s journals and AUANews, including recommendations about publishing innovations, threats and opportunities. This Publications Committee is tasked with leading the AUA into the future of scholarly publishing.

Our publishing future is one of great promise, but it is important that we concentrate not only on our program’s strengths but its weaknesses, too. Publishing trends such as open access and preprints are gaining momentum each day, and the AUA must be prepared and proactive in how we address them. As publishing evolves, it will behoove the AUA to consider how we can cross-pollinate our publications’ rich resources with our other AUA departments, including meetings, guidelines, membership, education and research, in a meaningful way to ensure ultimate accessibility to content and relevance of our program at large.

In 2020, the AUA contracted with a world-class independent consultancy well known for their scholarly publishing expertise. With their help, the AUA created a 5-year strategic plan for our publications. Our goal in creating this strategic plan was to make the AUA’s publishing program not only the best in all of urology but best-in-class in scientific, technical and medical publishing worldwide. This plan outlines 4 major areas for the AUA: an examination of our portfolio of publications, improvement of publication processes, enhancement of our marketing and branding, and reimagination of AUANews and digital delivery. Many of these areas have been fully addressed already, and we are prioritizing the others as we move into the end of 2021 and beyond.

The AUA is committed to serving our membership, the global urological community and medical researchers at large as the voice of urology. Together, The Journal of Urology®, Urology Practice® and AUANews provide a home for the most important content covering all topics of urology.

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