Dr. Tom Jenkins, Chair of the EAN e-Communication Committee interviews Prof. Didier Leys, Editor in Chief of the European Journal of Neurology
Dear Prof. Leys, Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I congratulate you with your appointment as Editor in Chief of this important European journal.
As Editor in Chief of the EAN Journal, what is your vision for the future of the journal?
Because Europe is the source of strong research output in neurology, we need more opportunities to publish research in a suitable European journal, that can be read by all those who are involved in neurology practice and research. As official journal of the European Academy of Neurology, the European Journal of Neurology is the appropriate journal to play this role.
The priority is to convince European neurologists to submit first to the European Journal of Neurology, but we also welcome submission of papers from other parts of the world. To be more attractive, we should (i) have a policy to increase the impact factor, and (ii) to improve turnaround delays. The impact factor has increased during the last years but is still far from those of Neurology, JAMA Neurology and Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. A policy to increase the impact factor is therefore crucial (keeping rejection rate high, no increase in the number of published articles before the impact factor has increased, systematic policy to publish good reviews and guidelines, and massive use of modern medias). To improve delays, I have chosen a well balanced group of editors with different fields of expertise, based in different countries but leaving not too far from each other to facilitate communications and meeting : I am more than happy to work with Claudia Sommer (Germany), who accepted to be Deputy Editor, and with Andrew Chan (Switzerland), Mark Edwards (United Kingdom) and Kristl Vonck (Belgium).
Improving the impact factor and delays are necessary but will not be enough. Together with the board of the EAN we refined the aims and scope of the journal. Our readers can see the details on the website of the journal but I can summarise as follows : The European Journal of Neurology, covers the whole field of neurology, with a good balance between subspecialties. Basic science papers are welcome if they help with the understanding of an important clinical issue. The target audience consists of neurologists who are not specialised in their clinical activity, and of those who have a specific field of interest and want to be kept informed about the latest neurological innovations and what is of interest to neurologists working in other subspecialities of neurology. Therefore, a priority will be given to articles of interest for most neurologists – irrespective of their subspecialty and practice – and to manuscripts covering aspects at the crossroads between different subspecialties. Manuscripts of interest for only a few highly specialised neurologists are more suitable for specialised journals.
When looking back at the achievements obtained over the years, which would you describe as the most striking one and why?
The most striking achievement of the previous editorial team is to succeed to have an impact factor mainly driven by original research. That means that the journal receives good articles that are subsequently highly cited. After the merge of the EFNS and of the ENS into the European Academy of Neurology, new rules were established for guidelines explaining a temporary decrease in the publication of guidelines. Despite this temporary decrease in – usually – highly cited publications, the impact factor of the journal remained stable and even increased slightly during the last years. The EAN has currently many new guidelines that should be released in the next months and these should contribute to the success of the journal.
Another important achievement is the number of manuscripts we receive from outside Europe, especially from Asia. Besides, we see also more submissions from north and south America. The next step is to attract manuscript from Africa, the region of the world where the most important growth is expected in the next decades. This new distribution translates currently in the composition of the new editorial board, that includes s significant number of colleagues from outside Europe.
What are your recommendations to the contributing authors and readers of the European Journal of Neurology?
I have 2 recommendation : (i) submit to the European Journal of Neurology the best of your research, and (ii) your suggestions to improve the quality of our journal are welcome: you can contact the editors or one of the members of the editorial board listed in the website of the journal (irrespective of where you are leaving, there is probably one in your country or in your region). One of the roles of editorial board members is to make suggestions to improve the journal: don’t hesitate to feed them with suggestions.