In 2020 the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine – Clinical Communications (JRM-CC) was accepted by PubMed Central and included in PubMed.
This news is great, but who benefits from this promotion into the top listing of research journals?
In 2017 the chief editors of JRM decided to launch a new journal: JRM-CC. The main reason for this crucial step was that we felt that the most prominent general rehabilitation journals show a diminishing interest in smaller, clinical, retrospective articles. The scientific importance of these articles is considered low, and most importantly, ”clinical articles” do not contribute to the ambition of increasing the Impact Factor (IF) of the journals. In the hierarchy of scientific value, they are at the very bottom, far below top articles such as randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and systematic reviews.
As a result, we expect that researchers involved in larger, prospective, controlled studies will have limited interest in JRM-CC. JRM-CC will not reach a high IF, and these authors will most likely submit their articles to Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine (JRM) or other high-ranking journals. However, researchers may be interested in smaller clinical publications as readers, to gain inspiration or pilots for future studies. Many large, well-designed studies are preceded by smaller, uncontrolled, observational studies. Case studies may attract attention to unconventional interventions or to symptoms that have been overlooked or missed previously.
Journals are not only published to accommodate authors who want to publish their results, but also for clinicians who wish to be informed and kept up to date with current developments in the field of rehabilitation. Unfortunately, many articles become more challenging to read, and it may be difficult to understand the exact meaning of the findings. Especially the statistical analysis of more extensive studies, they are so complicated that even experienced researchers have difficulties following them.
The editors consider clinicians to be the most important contributors and readers of JRM-CC. Contributions such as clinical cases, small case series, retrospective observations, summaries of Ph.D. theses, (extended) abstracts of congresses, posters are all welcomed in JRM-CC.
A forgotten group of authors is residents and students who have to write a (master-) thesis at the end of their studies. Usually, it is obligatory or at least recommended to publish the thesis results in an international journal. However, most journals are unfortunately not interested in these smaller studies because they will decrease the IF.
Thus, what is the opinion of the editors themselves about the recent PubMed inclusion? It is clear that we are very excited and honored now that JRM-CC is in PubMed. Not because we see this as a first step towards receiving an IF (JRM-CC will never receive a high IF, and that is not what the journal aims for) but because JRM-CC will reach a much broader audience. Through the inclusion in PubMed, one of the world’s largest databases for medical journals, the articles in JRM-CC will be easier to find and spread worldwide. The open-access will further support the visibility and distribution of the clinical papers.
We already see from online usage statistics of the journal that its contents are of great interest to readers. Online usage is increasing rapidly and has more than doubled in 2020, compared with the year before. In 2020 a JRM-CC article has been viewed on average 100 times per day, and bearing in mind the limited number of published articles to date this is quite impressive.
Finally, the acceptance of JRM-CC in PubMed has an indirect and unexpected advantage; many supervisors or even the board of directors consider publications in journals listed in PubMed as an achievement that counts for the scientific output of an individual author. PubMed journals thus currently have a crucial role to fill in the career and future of the author. It may be unattractive for authors to publish in journals that are not listed in PubMed because these publications do not contribute the CV of the author.
JRM-CC has the ambition of filling a gap in the landscape of scientific and clinical publishing in rehabilitation medicine and affiliated fields, welcoming contributions of value not primarily for citations but for authors and readers who wish to develop and improve clinical practice.
A summary of how JRM and JRM-CC as well as researchers and clinicians in the role of readers and authors relate to each other
Henk Stam and Kristian Borg
Editors-in-Chief of JRM and JRM-CC
Rotterdam and Stockholm January 2021