Lorie Gage Richards; State of the Journal, 2016. Am J Occup Ther 2016;70(6):7006070010p1-7006070010p5. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2016.706005.
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© 2017 American Occupational Therapy Association
The American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT) had a successful 2016. From September 2015 to September 2016, the number of manuscripts submitted remained steady at 255. Manuscripts were received from 30 non-U.S. countries, compared with 23 countries in 2015. AJOT continues to have the highest impact factor and to be the highest ranked of the occupational therapy journals listed in Journal Citation Reports. AJOT continues to focus on publishing research articles on aspects of occupational therapy among varied populations with diverse acute and chronic conditions. Changes in 2016 include requiring authors to register clinical trials at public trial registration sites and welcoming new associate editors and reviewers to the AJOT family.
Effectiveness studies: Research ranging from N-of-1 studies to randomized clinical trials that examined the effect, efficacy, or effectiveness of a therapy intervention or educational pedagogy
Instrument development and testing studies: Research involving assessment or therapy tool development
Basic studies: Research that establishes relationships between conditions and occupational limitations, reports the prevalence or incidence of conditions or client factors within a condition, identifies predictors of outcomes, outlines the development of taxonomies, describes the testing and building of theories, explicates occupational science, or describes results of work with animals
Efficiency: Studies that examine the cost–benefit ratio of occupational or interdisciplinary health care programs/interventions
Professional issues studies: Research dealing with occupational therapy practitioners’ knowledge or skills or that investigates practices in therapy provision
Health services studies: Research describing health care practice or utilization of occupational therapy services or that discusses health care utilization disparities
Systematic reviews: Research including scoping reviews and reviews of intervention effectiveness and basic research.
AJOT welcomed 43 new reviewers. Currently, reviewers come from around the world, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and India. The Editorial Board continues to recognize that reviewers are very busy and to keep requests for reviews manageable.
The AJOT Editorial Board held a workshop in collaboration with the editorial board of OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health at the AOTA Annual Conference & Expo in April to provide potential authors with information about the publishing process and offer tips for higher quality writing to foster the submission of manuscripts that are more publication ready. The two editorial boards have submitted an abstract for a similar workshop at the AOTA 2017 conference.
AJOT is part of a multidisciplinary rehabilitation journal group, and as of January 1, 2016, all clinical trials published in AJOT and the other journals must be prospectively registered with Clinicaltrials.gov (or a similar site for international trials not registering with Clinicaltrials.gov) before manuscripts are considered for publication. These journals use NIH’s (2004) definition of clinical trial: “a research study in which one or more human subjects are prospectively assigned to one or more interventions (which may include placebo or other control) to evaluate the effects of those interventions on health-related biomedical or behavioral outcomes.” AJOT authors are encouraged to visit the NIH (2004) website for specific examples to ascertain whether their research study needs to be registered. Researchers who were already recruiting or had finished recruitment or data collection before the January 1 deadline were required to retrospectively register their trials before their manuscripts were considered for publication. Registering a trial on such sites reduces risk of bias and promotes higher quality evidence, hastening an increase in the quality of rehabilitation and related research.
AJOT continues to award the annual Cordelia Myers AJOT Best Article Award for a high-impact article that describes high-quality research, is timely and highly relevant, and addresses an urgent need for information in the field (at least one author must be an occupational therapist). The article is chosen in a two-step process: A committee first selects one or two articles from each issue that meet these criteria, and a second committee makes the final selection from among these articles. The Best Article Award for 2015 went to Anne V. Kirby, Lauren M. Little, Beth Schultz, and Grace T. Baranek (2015) for “Observational Characterization of Sensory Interests, Repetitions, and Seeking Behaviors.” AJOT will continue to bestow the Cordelia Myers AJOT Best Article Award in the fall of each year.
AJOT published two special issues in 2016, one on occupational therapy for adults with traumatic brain injury, the result of a collaboration between AJOT and AOTA’s Evidence-Based Practice Project (Lieberman & Scheer, 2002), and the other on pediatric obesity.
In 2015, AJOT began publication of the research abstracts from the AOTA Annual Conference & Expo in an online supplement, and continued to do so in 2016.
The AJOT Editorial Board has planned a special section for each issue of the 2017 volume to celebrate AOTA’s Centennial and has disseminated calls for manuscripts. Each Centennial section will have at least two manuscripts dealing with different topics in occupational therapy. In the first issue, the Centennial section will focus on the history of occupational therapy and considerations for the future. Other issues will focus on topics in which occupational therapy has not traditionally been very involved or, after experiencing reduced involvement, is now seeing a need for increased emphasis. These topic areas are cancer treatment; youth-to-adult transitions; health, well-being, and quality of life; and mental health. In the last issue, the Centennial section will focus on occupational therapy internationally.
The Editorial Board will continue to implement policies and make acceptance decisions on the basis of the probability of increasing the journal’s impact factor, while continuing to attempt to represent the breadth of occupational therapy research. Although the increase in 2015 is a step in the right direction, a 2-year impact factor of 2.00 or greater will put AJOT on par with the top journals of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the American Physical Therapy Association (Table 4). Strategies include the following steps:
AJOT encourages occupational therapy–related manuscript submissions by authors of other disciplines. These authors may need to work with the managing editor on an appropriate “Implications for Occupational Therapy Practice” section.
Special issues on critical topics in occupational therapy and occupational science, in collaboration with AOTA’s Evidence-Based Practice Project (Lieberman & Scheer, 2002) and as suggested by AJOT authors, have been very popular. Thus, AJOT will continue to plan these special issues. Special issues include articles describing original research as well as systematic reviews (of various kinds) of quantitative research and metasyntheses of qualitative research.
In line with the increasingly global nature of the journal, the Editorial Board hopes to recruit additional international associate editors.
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