Andreas Laupacis is Editor in Chief of CMAJ.
Like everyone and everything else, CMAJ has been affected by COVID-19. Luckily, we can do our jobs remotely, although CMAJ staff miss seeing each other.
We want to be responsive to the needs of our readers and authors regarding COVID-19, while at the same time continuing to publish material that is not COVID-19 related. After all, most patients still access care for reasons other than COVID-19. Also, I find myself intellectually and emotionally overwhelmed by the constant focus on COVID-19 and am looking for other things to read. We hope that CMAJ can provide a balance.
That said, we have made changes in the last month.
- We are receiving so many submissions and inquiries related to COVID-19. While all submissions are welcome, our resources are limited and we are having to triage them. Two editors look at each submission and aim to decide within 48 hours of receipt about whether we will proceed or not. Common reasons that we reject a proposal or submission include our judgement that the point of the article has already been made elsewhere or that the submission provides data that will be out of date rapidly, or our knowledge that other groups (e.g., the Centre for Evidence-based Medicine) have already comprehensively reviewed and are updating available information. Sometimes we receive similar proposals from different groups and can only move forward with one. Since it often comes down to our subjective judgement that one submission or proposal is not as important as another, we will sometimes make the wrong decision. But we are trying our best.
- We are fast tracking the review of selected submissions related to COVID-19 with the help of reviewers willing to turn reviews around fast.
- We have seen a rise in the COVID-19 related submissions to our Practice section and we are giving some of these priority. We think the ‘Five Things to Know’ section might be a good place to publish important COVID-19 related material.
- We have expanded CMAJ’s blog to be a place where people can share their experiences and reflections about COVID-19. Since March 25th we have published 14 blog posts in our COVID-19 category. We are grateful for all the blog submissions we have received. For the blog we also have to make decisions about which submissions to accept. One reason for not accepting a submission is that the author makes a point similar to one already made by another blogger. We feel badly rejecting blog submissions; however, we have limited resources to edit and process blog posts (but please keep the submissions coming!)
- CMAJ News is posting a daily summary of COVID-19 related news, as well as two to three original COVID-19 related news stories a week.
If you submit material that is not related to COVID-19 in the next while you will notice two changes:
- Our response time to get back to you with a decision will be slower than usual. However, we still encourage you to submit.
- We will temporarily not be considering any submissions to the Encounters section of the journal. If you would like to submit a personal reflection about COVID-19, please submit it to CMAJ Blogs.
Finally, I have people to thank.
- I have been amazed by how authors continue to submit material to us in these tough times. Thank you.
- Thank you to authors and reviewers who have turned around reviews and revisions on COVID-19 related articles quickly, sometimes in between shifts in the ICU. I can’t imagine how busy and stressed you are.
- And thank you to everyone working on CMAJ and those who support us at Joule. CMAJ has a small staff, working with great commitment and skill. I am grateful and proud.