New Journal Editor Takes The Helm At The Annals Of Epidemiology
Seeks To Be First
Choice For Authors Using Epidemiology As A Tool For Addressing
an infectious disease epidemiologist at Emory University and former
CDC epidemiologist in the HIV/AIDS Division, has been appointed the
new editor of the Annals of Epidemiology effective January 2018.
Sullivan served as an associate editor at the Annals for five years
before assuming his new role.
Sullivan replaces Rich Rothenberg, an Emory colleague, who
served as editor for many
years. “I have great
respect for Rich’s leadership at the Journal,” Sullivan
told The Epidemiology Monitor, and “it is an honor to serve after him.
He and the associate editors at the Annals have built an impressive
Sullivan told the Monitor he conceives of epidemiology as a tool which
address many areas of interest and he sees the Journal
as reflecting such a broad use of epidemiology on infectious disease,
cardiovascular disease, and cancer as well as other topics such as
social determinants of health and health equity issues. He emphasized
the importance of foundational activities in epidemiology such as
surveillance, and noted that good descriptive epidemiology can lead to
many novel contributions.
According to Sullivan, the journal’s connection with the American
College of Epidemiology (ACE) is important and many ideas for the
Journal come from that partnership, including one last year which
resulted in a special issue on geospatial epidemiology. He said it is
an example of the journal’s interest in publishing broadly interesting
applications to important problems.
Sullivan told the Monitor that the Annals is interested in publishing
epidemiologic work that influences health programs or innovative work
that demonstrates the importance of epidemiologic methods in
addressing real problems. While the journal is not primarily
interested in epidemiologic methods, it is interested in practical and
innovative applications of epidemiology to real world health problems.
Asked about the
guidance he receives as editor from the American College of
Epidemiology, Sullivan said the College has a publications committee
and that this is the primary communication channel between the College
and the journal. The discussions with the committee are very collegial
and not very directive. It is clear to him, said Sullivan, that the
College’s main interest is in serving the interests of the profession
and College members. The journal also assists with the education
functions of the College by producing “teaching papers” and making it
easy to use them.
The guidance from Elsevier, the publisher of the Journal, is mostly on
operational rather than editorial matters, according to Sullivan.
There is no day-to-day or month-to-month guidance, but the publisher
does seek to help the journal take advantage of opportunities to
improve features. For example, the publisher can assist in creating
innovative ways the journal can interact with authors and readers.
The editorial content of the Annals is mostly driven by the associate
editors who are very diverse and dedicated, said Sullivan. They
prioritize topics for the Journal and represent its real editorial
capacity. The associate editors look at papers and shape the
scientific character of the journal.
Annals receives approximately 6-700 papers per year and publishes
approximately 100 of these or about 15%. The journal seeks to provide
a timely response and helpful comments to all authors while achieving
a high level of quality papers. The latest statistics show that the
first response from the journal takes about 8 weeks and a final
decision is rendered in 11 weeks. The timeliness of publication can be
much shorter for online publication. The impact factor is 2.6 and has
been rising since 2014. Other measures of impact should also be
considered said Sullivan such as the high interest in special issues
and the teaching contributions made for young investigators.
Sullivan took over the helm of the journal only in
January 2018 and said his vision for the journal is still taking
shape. He is interested in working to develop better metrics to assess
the journal’s performance and producing more special issues. He wants
to use the available data about the journal to get insights about how
to improve it. He is interested in making the accepted papers
available as soon as possible and increasing the opportunities to
interact electronically with users of the journal. In short, he would
like to make the journal more dynamic.
Asked about what message he might want to share with the epidemiology
community, Sullivan said that in this era of big data, epidemiology is
critical. He would like to see the Annals become the first choice for
authors using epidemiology as a tool for addressing important
problems. And he wants users to know that the journal seeks to
consistently provide timely responses and helpful comments.