After much thought, the ISASS Board of Directors and the Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Spine Surgery have elected to self-publish the Journal beginning January 1. This will cut costs and increase our flexibility enough to allow the Journal to do some very special things.

Here’s what to expect from the Journal’s relaunch:

No more paywalls. Everyone who wants to read an article from the Journal can. No subscriptions, no barriers. A few clicks and the paper is yours, no matter who you are, no matter where you are.

Free to publish. Some journals drop paywalls for readers but start charging authors. We won’t and never will. The Journal will be free to read, free to write.

A broader reach. For authors, removing paywalls means that people who usually can’t afford to see your work will be able to access it. Spine patients in the Global South or rural areas will benefit from their surgeons reading your work. Policy-makers, practitioners and patients everywhere on Earth will be able to read your research first-hand.

Speeding science. Not only will more researchers be able to read manuscripts quickly (instead of trying to email colleagues who have better access), but we’ll be publishing research much more quickly. We already have an astonishing turnaround time on reviews–the average time to first decision is only 6 weeks–but we’ll soon see accepted manuscripts published in a matter of days or weeks, not months.

PubMed Central. Getting a Journal accepted into MEDLINE, which is one way of making its articles visible in PubMed, is a drawn-out, bureaucratic, slow, messy, and unaccountable process. Getting a Journal into PubMed Central, which also makes a Journal’s entire catalog retroactively included in PubMed, is a timelier, more sensible process–one that’s only open to Journals that drop their paywalls like we will. There are two parts to this process: a scientific quality check, which should be complete weeks after we begin self-publishing, and a technical quality check, which will be in the hands of the vendors we’ve contracted with (who have successfully passed this check for other publications before). Depending on how well our vendor does, by early 2014 our articles should be visible in PubMed.

Collaboration on a truly global scale. We’ve already begun the process of reaching out to the international spine surgery community to share the news about our re-launch. In addition to being the official medical journal of ISASS, the International Journal of Spine Surgery is now the official journal of the International Intradiscal Therapy Society, the Pittsburgh Spine Summit, Turkmiss & ISMISS Turkey, and the Büttner-Janz Spinefoundation. And that’s just the start. We’re working to unite the spine surgery world behind a single publication that can communicate to all of us.

The re-launch has been funded generously by ISASS and donations from the Pittsburgh Spine Summit and the International Intradiscal Therapy Society (our gratitude to Dr. Boyle Cheng and Dr. Anthony Yeung for their help in orchestrating these contributions).

More partnerships are always welcome–if you’re part of an organization that wants to name IJSS as your official Journal, please contact Jonny Dover at Contributions from partnering organizations are welcome but not strictly necessary.

We hope you’re as excited about this ambitious project as we are. Let us know what you think.

Best, always,

Hansen Yuan, MD
Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Spine Surgery

Kristy Radcliffe
Executive Director, ISASS

Jonny Dover
Managing Editor, International Journal of Spine Surgery

For more about the International Journal of Spine Surgery, please visit us at

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