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Innovation in Aging: A Q&A with editor-in-chief Laura P. Sands

At the start of every emerging technology, at the heart of every scientific breakthrough, is an original idea that ignites like a spark. And soon, if we’re lucky, the spark spreads into an all-encompassing flame of ingenuity. This innovation is the key to progress and GSA’s newest journal Innovation in Aging is devoted to fanning the flame of progress in gerontology. In the interview below, the inaugural editor-in-chief Laura P. Sands discusses GSA’s newest journal and the future of gerontology.

How did you get involved with Innovation in Aging?

Rosemary Blieszner, a colleague and a former President of The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), suggested that I apply for the position of Editor in Chief. The application process involved a letter of introduction. As I composed the letter, I became excited about the opportunities a new journal could capture. The new journal will publish innovative research on aging that is outside the scope of GSA’s current journals. The new journal also offers the opportunity to enhance readers’ understanding of journal content. Each article includes a blue box immediately beneath the abstract that describes the translational significance of the study. Who better to explain the importance of research on aging than scientists who study aging?

Describe what you think the journal will look like in 20 years and the type of articles it will publish.

Visually, we will strive to take advantage of its online format to increase readers’ interaction with journal content. For example, embedded search features will allow quick comparison of a study’s methods and results with other published studies. Advanced graphics will free researchers from presenting results in static two-dimensional formats. For example, presentation of results may include visualization of multiple processes simultaneously interacting. Description of methods could include visual presentations of experimental procedures to increase accurate translation of methods across studies. Topically, I expect that we will be moving away from research that focuses on single systems. Instead, research in 20 years will be describing interaction between complex systems. For example, we are likely to see more research that describes the complex interplay between biological, social, and environmental influences on aging. In addition, I expect we will see more international teams working together to tackle global challenges and opportunities of aging.

Press conference for announcement of new Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands, with Board of Visitors and following reception. Laura Sands.
Laura Sands Courtesy of Virginia Tech/Logan Wallace. Used with permission.

How would you describe IA in three words?

Innovative – because the journal seeks to attract research that describes original principles, implements novel methods, assesses emerging technology, and describes innovative care pathways.

Interdisciplinary – because we will consider scientific articles representing expertise from multiple disciplines.

Immediate – because we strive to make a first decision within 30 days of submission and an article will be published online as soon as it is typeset. In addition, the Open Access model allows immediate online and free access to articles for every interested reader.

Do you think there are misconceptions regarding the journal? If so, what?

Innovation in Aging adopted the fully Open Access model of publishing. Two features distinguish the Open Access model from traditional subscription journals. First, readers have free, unrestricted online access to articles. Second, the journal does not have subscription fees; instead, the journal’s costs are covered by author publication charges. Research societies have widely adopted the Open Access model in the past decade. The most common Open Access journals in which GSA members publish include the BMC, PLoS ONE, and Frontiers journals. However, some scientists continue to have concerns about this model. One concern is that Open Access journals may be predatory. Qualities that distinguish reputable Open Access journals from predatory journals are as follows:

1. The journal is included in reputable databases.

2. The journal is owned by a scientifically reputable company or research society.

3. The editorial board includes scientific expertise required to thoroughly review manuscripts relevant to its mission.

4. The peer review process is clearly stated on the journal website.

5. The policies for human and animal subjects and conflict of interest are clearly articulated.

6. The journal has a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Another concern about Open access journals is that authors pay a publication fee. Innovation in Aging will waive the author publication fee for the first 200 accepted articles. Thereafter, 25% of author publication fees will be waived. A 2014 case study of an Open Access journal revealed that only 19% of authors requested waivers for author publication fees. A market survey commissioned by the GSA revealed that of respondents who published in Open Access journals, nearly half had their author publication fees covered by institutional funding.

Featured image credit: Steel Curves by Ricardo Gomez Angel. Public Domain via Unsplash.

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