The worst part of summer is that it comes to an end. That magical time of sun, fewer meetings, vacations, and joyful cocktails shared on the deck is a panacea for the overscheduled high-stress academic year. Sure, for some it was a time of sweltering temperatures, flooding, storms, and living through a heat stroke–inducing hellscape. But for me, and I’m writing this, no disasters. During this idyllic time, we also noticed something strange. I haven’t had an editorial published since May, and in that time, there has been a considerable increase in both de novo and transfer submissions to ImmunoHorizons.
Gail Bishop, our incoming Editor-in-Chief at The Journal of Immunology (you may have seen the announcement of her appointment under the headline “Bishop to become queen following Gene deletion”), would be sure to tell you that correlation is not causation. And in fact, that lack of editorials might not be the cause of the increased submissions. It could be that word is finally getting around that we have a great journal that is happy to publish your immunology work that has limited scope or describes incremental advances. It might be that our rapid decisions for transfers are a factor in wanting to get your work out there by publishing in ImmunoHorizons. It might also be that publishing in ImmunoHorizons (and The JI) benefits our community, our Association of Immunologists, and our trainees. But if it is the lack of editorials, can I, as Editor-in-Chief, take a chance? Should I simply state that if you don’t maintain submissions, I will write another editorial?
The use of coercion in publishing is an old tactic. In my memory, it dates to the January 1973 death-themed issue of National Lampoon (https://tr.pinterest.com/pin/482940760011263527/). On the cover, it pictured a dog with a gun held to its head and the caption “If you don’t buy this magazine, we will kill this dog.” Now, a few things to make sure the kids understand these terms. The National Lampoon was a satire magazine. A magazine was a collection of articles and advertisements, kind of like a Web site in handy glossy paper form. Satire was a form of humor that employed irony, exaggeration, and often absurdity to ridicule or bring attention to a behavior or set of circumstances. So, in the cover I mentioned, no dogs were harmed or at risk, even though that image would be unthinkable today. If any of this has been an education for you, thank you for taking a break from watching TikToks. (See what I did there?)
Let me give you an everyday example. Even though I enjoyed the summer, I broke my foot on vacation. When people asked me how it happened, I replied, “When you’re Chair, and your department isn’t getting enough grants, the Dean sends a few guys over to rough you up.” Now take this line apart. It’s satire because it pokes fun at the behavior of Deans always counting dollars and ranking departments, and it exaggerates what they might do to promote more grant applications so they can get their cut and hire more deanlets. And yet it’s also humorous because, while it is exaggerating behavior, it’s not outside the realm of believability. It stretches it, sure. But this story was infinitely more believable than the “moose attack” story that I also tested. Thus, the “Dean acting as mafia Don and making me an offer I couldn’t refuse” is my story and I’m sticking to it.
But back to the editorials. I had always considered my editorials to be enjoyable. They’re fun to write and most of the feedback I’ve gotten has been positive. Of course, in a previous editorial I did ask readers that if they had any negative feedback, they should keep it to themselves. I didn’t really expect anyone to listen. No one really listens to me in most aspects of my life. But now it occurs to me that maybe there is a silent caucus out there that was so repulsed by my editorials that they just couldn’t hold their nose long enough to submit anything. And, perhaps, my lapse in editorial submissions was enough for them to say, “Let’s submit while things are quiet on the editorial front. Maybe funny boy has finally stopped typing.” If that is true, thank you. But it does give me an idea for a grant application.
The overall goal of this application is to promote the maximal number of submissions to ImmunoHorizons. Our hypothesis is that my editorials have a negative impact on submissions. This hypothesis will be tested in two specific aims.
Aim 1. Define the correlation of editorials with submissions to ImmunoHorizons
In this aim we will correlate archival data on submissions with gaps in publications of editorials. We will also perform a prospective study by examining submissions after an editorial is published over time with the underlying hypothesis that submissions will increase with time from editorial publication date.
Aim 2. Determine engagement with ImmunoHorizons with editorial publication as a variable
In the second aim we will test the hypothesis that my editorials have a negative impact on submissions by examining metadata from e-mail and Web site ImmunoHorizons engagement in months where there is or is not an editorial published.
If this grant application is funded, we will know for sure the impact of my editorials on the ImmunoHorizons submission community. In the meantime, continue those submissions or we will continue to develop preliminary data for this hypothesis by subjecting you to more of my editorials. And if the grant application is funded, maybe my Dean won’t send guys over to break my other foot.