It's a new year and the time I start thinking about which projects in the lab are going to mature into submissions during 2023. I am, of course, always overly optimistic. You would have thought that after 27 years of running a lab, I would have a more realistic perspective of how progress at the bench really goes. Then again, maybe this exercise is more about deciding whether to cut our losses on some projects or go that extra mile to get that bigger story. Many factors play into my thinking, including where people are in their careers and what they need for the next step, in addition to how much funding is left. It also makes me think about where we want to submit our work, which is an important consideration given how rapidly the publishing world is changing.
I am hearing a lot of positive things about Review Commons (https://www.reviewcommons.org/) – a journal-independent peer review platform. Review Commons provides authors with a refereed preprint that can be directly submitted to any of its affiliate journals, including Journal of Cell Science. Because reviewers focus on the science rather than journal fit, and as the process reduces re-reviewing at multiple journals, the platform is becoming increasingly popular. Indeed, around 10% of articles published in Journal of Cell Science in 2022 were published via this route, and we look forward to seeing further growth this year. There is also a lot of discussion, both positive and negative, about the new initiative from eLife, and it will be interesting to see how their experiment pans out and the impact on scientific publishing. There is also the endless march of low-quality Open Access journals that always want me to write reviews or edit an issue and pay them for the privilege of doing so. They shall remain nameless, as I don't want to end up in court, but their effrontery at our expense is frankly galling. I also don't understand why someone would want to publish their research in such journals. Ok, maybe it is easier to publish in these venues, but from what I have heard they effectively accept everything and take very little notice of reviewers' comments; it's clearly all about the money rather than scientific rigour, which has to be the foundation of what we do.
In the cell biology world, there are many journals that take things more seriously to ensure scientific standards are maintained. I hope you agree that Journal of Cell Science is one such place. Yes, it can be hard to publish with us, but a paper in Journal of Cell Science commands respect from the community, and I often see our papers cited on people’s slides at meetings. And there is the fact that publishing with us can be completely free (for example, if your institute has a Read & Publish agreement with us or if you opt for our non-Open Access route). So why pay to publish in one of those bottom-feeding journals that you are too embarrassed to put on your slides? Ok, you might say I'm biased as I'm the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Cell Science. Well even if I wasn't, I would still want my work to appear in a reputable journal. The fact that Journal of Cell Science is published by a not-for-profit publisher (The Company of Biologists) that puts a significant amount of money (I'm not allowed to give figures, but trust me, it's a lot!) back into the scientific community to fund meetings, travelling fellowships, societies and community sites is another reason why it is good – and important – to submit to Journal of Cell Science.
Concerning this latter note, I would like to thank everyone who submitted a manuscript to Journal of Cell Science in 2022 (even if your study ultimately was not accepted), as well as the authors who contributed great Reviews and commentaries to the journal. I would also like to thank all of our reviewers; an editor's job is not necessarily what everyone thinks it is (maybe a good subject for a future editorial) but we would be lost without the expert advice of our reviewers, who give up their precious time to help guide us in our decisions. A full list of reviewers and co-reviewers who provided expert help in 2022 can be found in the supplementary information.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dominated much of what we have all been doing over the past few years, so it was great that things really started to open up in 2022, and we could all return to business as ‘usual’. We had our first in-person journal meeting on the ‘Host–Pathogen Interface’ in May, which was a roaring success (you can read more here: https://doi.org/10.1242/jcs.260456), and we're looking forward to our next meeting on ‘Imaging Cell Dynamics’ in Lisbon in May 2023 (https://www.biologists.com/meetings/celldynamics2023/). If you are interested in imaging, please do join us! Also check out FocalPlane (https://focalplane.biologists.com/), our microscopy and imaging community site, which is expanding its network and has a new Community Manager – Helen Zenner (https://focalplane.biologists.com/2023/01/25/new-community-manager-for-focalplane/). We are also excited about our next Special Issue on the ‘Cell Biology of Motors’, guest edited by Anne Straube (https://doi.org/10.1242/jcs.259453), which is already building (https://journals.biologists.com/jcs/issue/136/5) and will be finalised in March 2023. I also encourage you to submit to our Special Issue on ‘Cell and Tissue Polarity’, guest edited by David Bryant (https://doi.org/10.1242/jcs.260639).
2022 was also a bittersweet year for us, as Sharon Ahmad, who had been the Executive Editor of Journal of Cell Science since December 2007 and with whom I worked closely on an almost daily basis, decided to leave at the end of summer. Sharon, whom I am sure many of you have met at meetings, was intrinsic to the success of the journal, and it is sad to see her leave. We wish her every success in her new job as Executive Publisher of New Concepts in STM at Cambridge University Press. However, I am pleased to announce that Seema Grewal has taken over the role of Executive Editor. Seema obtained her PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Leeds, UK, focussing on phospholipase signalling in endothelial cells. Following this, Seema worked as a postdoc at the University of California, Irvine, USA (in the lab of Lee Bardwell), where she investigated signalling specificity in MAPK pathways. She then carried out postdoctoral research in Oxford (working with Helen Mardon) and Cambridge (working with Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz), where she studied early mammalian embryo development and implantation. Seema joined our sister journal Development in 2010, initially as a Reviews Editor before becoming Senior Editor. Most recently, she served as Acting Executive Editor on Development. I'd like to welcome Seema to the Journal of Cell Science team, and I look forward to working with her to make the journal the place everyone wants to publish their best cell biology research.
Together, Seema and I (working alongside our academic editors, who we must also thank for their commitment to the journal) will be thinking about how we can continue to serve the cell biology community and ensure that Journal of Cell Science remains a reputable venue for publishing cutting-edge science. With this in mind, please do get in touch if you have any feedback for us. We are always interested in hearing from you – our community.