Translating Neuroscience to Treatment

June 2013
Alan I. Faden on Neurotherapeutics
Neurotherapeutics: The Journal of The American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics

In a recent analysis of data from Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge, the journal Neurotherapeutics was identified as a Rising Star in the field of Neuroscience & Behavior. Its current record in this field, as tracked by InCites/Essential Science Indicators over the last decade, includes 397 papers cited a total of 5,958 times between January 1, 2003 and February 28, 2013.

Neurotherapeutics is published by Springer. The journal's Editor-in-Chief is Alan I. Faden, MD, who is currently David S. Brown Professor in Trauma and Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, with additional appointments in the departments of Anatomy & Neurobiology, Neurosurgery, and Neurology. He is also Adjunct Professor of Neuroscience at Georgetown University Medical Center.

Below, Dr. Faden shares a few thoughts on Neurotherapeutics and its increasing citation profile.

SW: Did you expect Neurotherapeutics to become highly cited, or is this surprising to you?

Yes. I anticipated the likelihood of a higher impact and citation growth rate when I proposed the concept for the journal to the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics (ASENT)—the journal's official sponsor since its initiation.

SW: How would you account for the journal's growing citation rate?

The plan was to develop an important niche area—initially, quarterly dedicated critical reviews in translational neuroscience that were thematically organized to target the more important areas of scientific growth and broad interest. Each issue would be guest-edited by one or more international authorities in that content area, under the close supervision of our editors. This was an unusual structure when initiated more than a decade ago. The plan, now successfully implemented, was that once we received a good impact score (hoped to be the initial one, as proved true), we would begin to accept original research articles as well—focusing on translational neuroscience. Our goal is to become one of the preferential sites for such papers. Research papers are only accepted if they pass stringent peer review following initial critical review by the editor-in-chief, and must be explicitly rated by reviewers among the top 10 to 15% of papers in that specific area. Our overall acceptance rate is now about 10%, consistent with accepting only the best papers that are of broad interest.

SW: Would you give us a brief history of the journal?

The mission of ASENT is to facilitate the clinical translation of basic neuroscience discoveries to improve the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders.  Its unique membership includes a partnership among four distinct constituencies: academic scientists in clinical and basic neuroscience; leadership and members of federal agencies including the NIH and FDA; research leadership of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies; and leadership of patient-support groups. Strong effort has been made to insure participation of each group among ASENT leadership at the officer and board levels. When established 15 years ago, ASENT wanted to develop a sponsored journal after several years. As a founding officer and subsequent ASENT president, I stated that the field did not need another neuroscience journal unless it filled an important unmet need, such as translational neuroscience, and I proposed a concept for establishing such a niche journal. In my earlier days as founding editor-in-chief, we initially self-published. But in order to address escalating costs and the need for higher visibility, we established publishing relationships—first with Elsevier, and more recently with Springer. Both publishers have been highly supportive, with Springer now forming a close and mutually beneficial relationship to the society.

SW: What historical factors have contributed to the journal's success?

Establishing a distinct translational neuroscience focus relatively early; having carefully selected, targeted thematic critical reviews issues; setting a very high bar for acceptance of primary research articles; choosing an excellent and committed editorial board, and insisting on rapid reviews and early online publication.

SW: Have there been specific developments in the fields served by the journal that may have contributed?

Yes. Neurological therapeutics have markedly accelerated since the journal's initiation, for such conditions as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, stroke, and chronic neurodegeneration. We also include focus articles and even entire issues dedicated to advances in devices as well as in drug treatments.

SW: What, in your view, is this journal's main significance or contribution in the field of Neuroscience and beyond?

Serving as an important "go-to" source for translational neuroscience developments, with thematic topic issues serving as a particularly useful tool for busy physicians, scientists and, importantly, trainees.

SW: How do you see this specialty evolving in the next few years?

Progress in translational neuroscience will continue to accelerate with such developments as systems neuroscience, pharmacogenomics, and new device technologies.

SW: What role do you see for your journal?

As a continued important voice for the promotion of translation in neuroscience.

Alan I. Faden, MD
University of Maryland School of Medicine

The data and citation records included in this report are from Thomson Reuters Web of ScienceTM. Web of ScienceTM is a registered trademark of Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.