Picturing a Blend of Print and Online
Vernon T. Tolo, MD

Ever since the web began gaining popular acceptance as a publishing platform, print and online supporters have been squaring off about which is better, which is more reliable, and which is more trustworthy. JBJS has championed the approach that print and online work best together, as evidenced by some recent changes in both the editorial and the publishing arena at JBJS.

In 2010, JBJS received approximately 2000 manuscripts of all types to review and consider for publication. While the number of manuscripts submitted has continued to increase, the quality of the research work has also improved. The result is that, despite an overall manuscript acceptance rate of <20%, we have more accepted manuscripts than we have room to print. At present, the average time from submission to publication is eleven months, a time that would lengthen if alternative methods of publishing these accepted manuscripts were not implemented.

In an effort to address the plethora of articles and the speed of publication of these research reports, we have begun offering authors the opportunity to have their research work published online only, with an abstract or a short summary in print. The Table of Contents of the print issue will list the online publication. It is estimated that this online option will allow the manuscript to be published two to three months earlier than if it were to wait to be published in print. Since the online, or electronic, version of JBJS is now the definitive version, containing all published material both in print and online, articles published only online would continue to be cited as having been published in JBJS and would be searchable and citable in a manner identical to the articles in the print publication. As currently noted in the Instructions to Authors, future accepted manuscripts will be published in print and/or online at the discretion of the Editor-in-Chief.

Letters to the Editor will now be published only online. There is currently an opportunity for readers to post a comment online about an article in our Commentary & Perspective section. An expanded opportunity for online discussion will likely replace the Letters to the Editor in the future and will be more interactive. The online discussion group can easily include more than the letter writer and the authors of the article that is the subject of the comments. In the near future, almost all case reports will also be published online with a short abstract in print and with a listing of the case report in the print version of the Table of Contents.

The intent of these editorial changes is to provide a greater amount of orthopaedic content to our readers in a way that they are most comfortable reading it while at the same time decreasing the wait before publication.

In addition to these editorial changes, thanks to the innovation and vision of our publisher and staff, advances in accessing information are simultaneously taking place. Starting last month, small graphics called QR codes (QR stands for Quick Response) began appearing near links to our online commentaries, online video features, and extended data sets as well as providing special industry messages in our advertising pages. JBJS is among the first journals to adopt this technology.

QR codes are similar to barcodes and are governed by an open, ISO standard.

When you use your mobile phone to take a picture of a QR code in print, your phone will load a web page or take some other action you approve—including finding supplemental data for an article, downloading a coupon, or creating an e-mail so that you can request something you want. Many phones already have the right software to read QR codes. If yours doesn’t, it’s easy to find apps to read QR codes, and most are free. Further details are available on an information page in our advertising section.

By continuing to improve both the online and the print publications and to meld them together, we hope to make every issue of JBJS even more useful and informative for you.