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Science Editing > Volume 10(1); 2023 > Article
Ha: Looking back on my journey as the Editor-in-Chief of Animal Bioscience

Introduction to Animal Bioscience

Animal Bioscience (AB) is an international journal first published in 1988 under the title Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences (AJAS) by the Asian-Australasian Association of Animal Production Societies (AAAP). Since then, it has continued its publication journey. The current journal title was adopted in 2021. I was invited to become the Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of AJAS in 2001, which has been my second job since then and my sole volunteer activity after retirement from Seoul National University in 2013.
According to a previous report [1], the idea of an official international journal publication was not well accepted initially by the AAAP member countries, perceiving no real need for such a journal and the absence of a firm belief in the success of such publication activities in Asia. However, a few dedicated frontier scientists led by Professor In K. Han, the first EIC, turned AJAS into one of the most respected global journals in the animal science category. As expected, collecting the manuscripts during the early days was challenging. The journal received less than 50 manuscripts in the first year. However, the annual count rose to almost 1,000 in a few years. Presently, authors from more than 50 countries have chosen AB to report their research work. China and Korea are the major contributing countries, similar to the case with many other international journals. Approximately 70% of submissions are from the AAAP member countries, with the remaining 30% from the non-AAAP region.
The journal has made a tremendous improvement in citation frequency. When first indexed by the SCIE in 1997, the impact factor (IF) of AJAS was below 0.1, which increased to 2.7 in 2021. The total number of citations in the first year was less than 100, increasing to almost 9,000 in 2021, an approximately 100-fold increase over the past 25 years [2]. Since AB began to publish articles with a new title in 2021 and IF is calculated based on citations in the last 2 years, the first IF of AB will be released sometime in June 2023. The IF of AB will likely be lower than that of AJAS in the next few years due to the shorter exposure time of AB. However, it will not influence the combined journal IF significantly.

Major Turning Points for Journal Advancement

During the last 20-some years, while I have been in the position of EIC of AJAS and AB, a marked advancement has been made in the reputation of the journal. I consider the following few key events contributed the most to this advancement.

Online journal publication

I must consider the adoption of the online journal publication platform in 2006 as the most important event, which greatly influenced almost every aspect of journal publication. One of the major tasks in 2001, as I began my EIC term, was reducing the workload of handling hard-copy manuscripts and responding to authors mostly via hard-copy letters. Commercial online platforms were not used widely in Korea in those days. We had instead to commission a local information technology company to develop a system for manuscript handling system. Needless to say, as a result, the platform helped speed up the entire manuscript handling process with much more satisfaction from all stakeholders, including authors, reviewers, editors, and staff. I, with the other editorial members, noticed a sizable increase in manuscript submission with much easier recruitment of reviewers after the initiation of the online submission system. I am sure that recent high international journal exposure and citation frequency is mainly thanks to the shift from conventional hard copy to an online submission system. Of course, the system saved much of my own time, enabling me to devote myself to other matters, such as the long- and short-term planning of the affairs of AB. I recall the original online system was replaced by the new current submission system in 2014.

New publication technologies

Another issue was keeping pace with the ever-developing publication technology. Frankly, although I did not have much experience in journal publication and editing when I was asked to take the EIC position, I knew that tremendous developments were occurring worldwide in journal publication. I could gain new technologies and ideas through two science editor organizations: the Korean Council of Science Editors (KCSE) and the Council of Asian Science Editors (CASE). Involvement in these organizations gave me tremendous momentum for the journal quality advancement of the AB. In addition, attending international meetings such as the Council of Science Editors (CSE) in the United States and the European Association of Science Editors (EASE) became a valuable experience, which helped me to prepare plans for the future of the journal.

Indexing by global databases

Registering to major international databases was another crucial step to enhance journal exposure for global readership and citation frequency. We observed that the IF of AJAS was notably enhanced a few years after the beginning of journal coverage by some databases such as PubMed Central. Currently, AB is indexed by most global databases, including Web of Science, Scopus, PubMed Central, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), ScienceCentral, EBSCO, and Chemical Abstracts. In addition, adopting an open-access policy in 2014 was a meaningful change, as we joined many other international journals in the global movement of free-access research output. We are fortunate to collect over 1,000 yearly submissions in a few years despite several competing international journals in animal science that have recently emerged in Asia. We consider the coverage by these databases positively influenced the reputation of the journal and, hence, manuscript submission.

Journal title change

The title of our official journal has been changed from “Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences” to “Animal Bioscience,” effective from January 2021. The title was a bit too long earlier and led the authors to avoid citing AJAS because of the complexity of its name. After a few years of discussion, we finally decided to adopt the name “Animal Bioscience.” Although it took almost an entire year to complete the title change process, the change will help us enhance the brand identity of the journal, secure international leadership, and perhaps cover the diverse interests of the animal industry and academia in the long run.
On the other hand, we had to undergo a few tough times for many prearrangements due to the title change. There required many preparations such as modification in journal style and format and online system and arrangement with all existing databases for continued coverage. Although we expected manuscript submission and journal IF might go down to some extent, the title change resulted in a much more severe impact than anticipated on both parameters. Especially, manuscript submission went down by almost 50% with slightly less influence on citation frequency. We hope these are temporary and will see more positive effects of journal title change within a few years.

Science editors’ organizations

One of my most valuable experiences as EIC thus far has been my involvement in creating KCSE, which was founded on September 21, 2011, with a vision to improve the qualities and international status of scientific journals published in Korea. Since its founding, this vision has been pursued through the concerted efforts of academic journal editors. I have been thrilled to see KCSE grow, thanks to full support from many scientific journals in Korea, with nearly 350 member journals as of September 2022. This rapid progress was possible primarily because of the dedication of the executive board members. Professor Jung Il Jin, the first president, was instrumental in securing a solid ground for the organization with continued dedicated service by Professors Jong Kyu Ha (the second president), Hyung Soon Kim (the third president), and Sun Huh (the fourth and current president). Of course, without the strong support from member societies and individuals, the success of KCSE would not have been possible. My association with KCSE provided an excellent opportunity to learn about new publishing technologies and trends through personal communication with fellow editors and meetings and training sessions, where I was acquainted with many experts from local journals and international organizations such as CSE, EASE, and CASE.
One of the major flagships of a collaborative effort by the KCSE has been the creation of CASE in 2014. For several years, the KCSE prioritized scholarly exchange among editors in Asia. On October 1, 2013, a group of 18 editorial representatives from several Asian countries gathered at the Korean Federation of Science and Technology Societies (KOFST) and agreed that an organization dedicated to the advancement of scientific research publication across Asia is needed. Thus, CASE was conceived. After a year of preparation, the council was established officially during the Asian Science Editors’ Conference and Workshop 2014 at KOFST on July 2, 2014. CASE aims to improve the quality of scientific journals published in Asia through consulting and sharing information on editing and publishing and become a counterpart to existing international science editors’ associations. Thus far, CASE organized seven Asian Science Editors’ Conferences and Workshop, which served as a platform for Asian editors to exchange views and knowledge on journal publication and editing. In addition, it is one major outcome of joint efforts between CASE and KCSE to formulate the formation of national editors’ organizations in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia. We certainly look forward to seeing the continued role of CASE in fostering more countries in Asia as a member.

Short-term and long-term plan

The recent outstanding journal quality improvement was, to an extent, due to the recently completed 7-year development program, i.e., the “AJAS 2020 program” from 2014 to 2020. We adopted many innovative editorial and journal management measures during the program period. The systems and programs applied to AJAS during this period include DOI, ORCID, CrossMark, CrossCheck, Cited-by, and information on Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or Institutional Review Board (IRB). All these measures contributed to the enhancement of journal visibility and citation frequency substantially. Total citations increased 4.7 times reflecting a similar level of increase in IF, which boosted the ranking from 37% to 78%, which is high enough to qualify as a Q1 journal [3]. One additional thing I like to mention is that EIC should not hesitate to seek advice from internal and external experts. Checking the publication system in parts or its entirety through consultation gave us a good opportunity to review our system and make a proper development program.

Teamwork

For successful journal publication, continued and dedicated efforts by many stakeholders are required. In particular, small society journals such as AB cannot expect enough financial and manpower support from the society, which requires dedication from many volunteers. It was fortunate that at AB we were able to recruit many individuals who were willing to be involved in journal publication, a strong asset for AB. In addition to a formal editorial committee, we have a group of associate editors, formerly members of technical committee, responsible for handling manuscripts of their expertise. These are the key members who keep track of the manuscript flow, making sure manuscripts under review fall within the technical and ethical standards of the journal. On the other hand, in meetings of EIC, Co-EIC, and Deputy EIC, we discuss most of the short- and long-term plans and pending issues coincident with the preparation of the guidelines needed at AB.

Concluding Remark

Looking back on my career as the EIC of AJAS and AB, these 20-some years were challenging, but at the same time rewarding period for me. I am happy to see the development of AJAS and AB where I was able to contribute to the development of this journal. However, I would think that I and all members of AB should not satisfy with a small success and we should bring continued innovation to maintain as a leading journal in the ever-changing global publication environment. I believe that AB should be able to provide the best content to become a highly prestigious and respected journal. Continued efforts are required to invite high-quality articles. Furthermore, AB should be able to provide a global standard system to stakeholders such as authors, reviewers, and the general public for efficient and easy access to AB.
From my own experience, I suggest that editors try to obtain as much new information as possible from various resources. EASE, CASE, and other national and international publication organizations are excellent sources for this information. Additionally, editors must fully grasp the performance metrics of their journals. Any major change in metrics should be recognized and proper measures taken at an early stage. It is always worthwhile to invest in the development of an efficient and user-friendly system for authors, reviewers, readers, and other potential users. Equally important is establishing a good relationship with experts in your field and others, directly and indirectly, related to the journal such as academic society, industry, and national and international organizations. Finally, I recommend that editors make both shortand long-term developmental plans with achievable and predictable targets. Periodic checks, equally important as the plan itself, will show you where you are and where you are heading.

Notes

Conflict of Interest

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

Funding

The author received no financial support for this article.

Acknowledgments

The critical reading by Professor Cheol-Heui Yun (Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea), is gratefully acknowledged.

References

1. Ha JK. Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences. Asian-Australas J Anim Sci 2018;31:1-2. https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.2018.0001ED
crossref pmid pmc

2. Clarivate. 2021 Journal Citation ReportS [Internet]. Clarivate; 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 5]. https://jcr.clarivate.com


3. Ha JK. Leadership of AAAP scientists and journals in animal science: achievements, limitations, and challenges. Anim Biosci 2023;36:1-9. https://doi.org/10.5713/ab.22.0409
crossref pmid pmc

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