The Daily Dose • Saturday, May 18

The Editor’s Perspective: Research Highlights, Future Priorities, and Plan S

By Christian S. Guay, MD, from the IARS, AUA and SOCCA 2019 Annual Meetings*

Four editors from our field’s leading journals united to discuss recent research highlights, journal priorities, and the controversial “Plan S.” Overall, the journals are embracing visual abstracts and social media engagement, as well as increased article transparency and accessibility. Plan S is a European initiative aimed at making all publicly funded research freely accessible to the general public starting next year. Fifteen European funding agencies and four charitable organizations including the Gates Foundation have endorsed the plan. The economic details and implementation of the plan are currently being debated and the NIH has not yet taken a position.

This collaborative symposium brought together editors from leading specialty journals, namely the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia (CJA), British Journal of Anaesthesia (BJA), Anesthesia & Analgesia (A&A), and Anesthesiology to share their perspectives on research highlights from the last year, future research priorities, and Plan S.

Dr. Gregory Byson, Deputy Editor of CJA, started the symposium with a discussion of the CJA, outlining the journals’ priorities: perioperative medicine, critical care, promotion of authors and content, increasing access, global anesthesia, diversity, equity and inclusion. In particular, he noted that critical care content in CJA has increased by 15-25% over the past few years. Dr. Byson also highlighted the recent adoption of visual abstracts to promote information sharing, social media engagement and article downloads.

Next up, Dr. Hugh Hemmings, Editor-in-Chief of BJA, reviewed some of the most impactful articles published in BJA over the past year. These included a wide range of article types, including guidelines, audits, retrospective studies, prospective studies, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, experimental reports, case reports and global health.

Anesthesia & Analgesia’s Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Jean-François Pittet also presented some of his most memorable articles over the past year. In particular, he highlighted Dr. Emery Brown’s article on multimodal general anesthesia and a series of articles on acute kidney injury that are leading up to a symposium on organ protection on Monday (Organ Protection during the Perioperative Period, presented 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm ET in Av. Laurier), and a themed issue of A&A early next year. In addition to themed issues, Dr. Pittet also highlighted some of the journal’s article series covering statistical methods and technology. In the spirit of being an international journal, A&A is currently available in Chinese and new languages are scheduled to be rolled out in coming years.

Dr. Evan Kharasch, Editor-in-Chief of Anesthesiology, started his presentation by reviewing the journal’s headline, “Trusted Evidence: Discovery to Practice.” He also noted that the journal is focused on increasing the accessibility and readability of its articles, in addition to their popular monthly podcast. Improved clarity and transparency in research reporting will also be required by the journal, specifically the disclosure of when data analysis plans are created. Randomized controlled trials were prominently featured in Dr. Kharasch’s overview of the past two years, which also included basic science research.

Individual journal presentations were followed by a shared discussion on a recent trend in open science, Plan S: “After January 1, 2020, scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant open access journals or on compliant open access platforms.” Thus far, 15 European national funding agencies and four charitable organizations, including the Gates Foundation and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, have backed this initiative, which would require investigators who receive funding from these sources to publish their work in such a way that it becomes immediately available to the general public at no cost.

Furthermore, authors would retain the copyright to their research via a CC BY license. The four editors shared their perspectives on the topic, which sparked a lot of discussion during the Q&A session. Specifically, the important question remains: if the readers aren’t paying, who is?

Solutions brought forth include article processing charges (APC’s) in grant submissions, and institutions diverting funds currently tied up in journal subscriptions to cover APC’s. Interestingly, Dr. Byson noted that not a single article published in the CJA has been funded by the organizations currently endorsing Plan S, whereas the figure amounts to 10% of the publications in BJA. Currently, the NIH has not endorsed Plan S. Nonetheless, attendees left with a sense that change is on the horizon, and that we need creative solutions to make our research both widely accessible and economically sustainable.

*Coverage from the A&A, Anesthesiology, BJA & CJA Symposium: Research Highlights and Future Priorities: Perspectives of Journal Editors, moderated by Colleen Koch, MD, MS, MBA, FACC, FASA, and presented by Gregory Byson, MD, MSc, Hugh Hemmings, MD, PhD, Evan Kharasch, MD, PhD, and Jean-Francois Pittet, MD