On January 1, the International Journal of Spine Surgery will begin its re-launch. There’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to the broad strokes – free access to all the Journal’s material will mean it’s easier for you as a researcher to get to it, even if you’re away from your institution. Along with free submissions, free access will allow scientists and surgeons from around the globe to get involved in the scholarly conversation, so the Journal will more ably reflect our considerable international audience. Authors will still enjoy the fantastic speed they’re used to with the Journal – First Decisions usually arrive within six weeks.

But apart from the truly big stuff we’re trying to get right, there are the small luxuries that make the experience of publishing (and even reading scholarly materials) less painful and more pleasant.

Once your manuscript is completed, it’s time to begin the first hurdle of getting it published – submitting it to the Journal. While most scientific journals force you to use outdated, confusing, and ugly software to upload your manuscript and the attendant information, we’re using Scholastica. It’s a manuscript management system built from the ground up in the 21st century. No more saving a draft thinking you’re submitting the paper – this is more intuitive, faster, and looks better than any other option for getting your article from you to us!

The next pain point we’d like to solve is doing digital research. If you’re doing research in 2013, you know that the two column layout used by scientific journals since the ’70s (or the 1870s, in the case of Nature) is great for reading a printed copy, but rather less so for the wider-than-tall screens on laptops and desktops, and the zoom-required screens of tablets and phones. Scholarly journals have largely been digital for at least a decade. It’s time to start designing like it. While the IJSS’s website is still only in its larval stage, we can show you the inspiration for our design: the single-column layout of PeerJ (go on – click ‘download as’ PDF). The emphasis is on readability using the latest techniques and improvements to typography, layout, and design, and it can save you money on printer ink too.

Finally, there has been a movement afoot to give authors a better sense of how and how much their work is being discovered. Traditional methods of impact have only let you know whether the journal itself is well read or not, but even that measure is made from seeing how articles are used – so why not see things on an article level? We’ll be showing “altmetrics,” as they’re called, from ImpactStory, including information on how your specific article is used from PubMed & PubMed CentralScopus, social media, blogs, Twitter, and more!

ISASS supports the International Journal of Spine Surgery, and we’re teaming up with the International Intradiscal Therapy Society, the Pittsburgh Spine SummitTurkmissISMISS Turkey, and the Büttner-Janz Spinefoundation to bring the field of spine surgery the journal it deserves in the 21st century. Join ISASS to help further our mission!

See you in 2014!

Jonny Dover
Managing Editor, International Journal of Spine Surgery

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