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Annual report to our readers and the field: September 1, 1998--August 31, 1999.


This third Annual Report to our readers and the field at large includes not only an update on activities from the past year but a summary of a special e-mail survey of AHSR members pertaining to the frequency of HSR journal publication and views on electronic publishing. Table 1 provides an overall breakdown of the 217 new manuscripts received during the period September 1, 1998-August 31, 1999, in comparison with the equivalent period of the previous year. The 217 new manuscripts represent a 23 percent increase from the prior period, the third consecutive year of increased submissions. As shown in Table 1, the overall distribution of decisions is not appreciably different from that of the previous year. It is important to note that the acceptance rate of 13.4 percent is not an overall final acceptance rate in that it does not take into account the eight manuscripts still under review and the 40 manuscripts still under revision at the time of the analysis. The acceptance rate for manuscripts for which final decisions have been made was 17.1 percent (29/169, which includes the no review, accepted, and rejected rows). Based on past experience, this figure approximates the Journal's overall acceptance rate.


Figure 1 shows that the overall percentage rank ordering of submissions by major health policy content area has remained the same; access/utilization followed by quality/outcomes, costs, and "other," respectively. Figure 2 shows the percentage of new manuscripts by specific subject content area. As indicated, the most marked change from the previous year was the over twofold increase in the percentage of submissions dealing with prevention/primary care/community health issues from 3.9 percent to 8.8 percent and the increase from 9.7 percent to 14.3 percent in the manuscripts dealing with health insurance/financing/payment issues. Percentage decreases occurred in the "hospital/health system" and "aging/chronic illness/long-term care/rehab" content areas.


Cycle time is the total time that passes from receipt of the manuscript in the Journal's editorial offices to the time when a decision letter is mailed to the author(s). The good news is that this total time decreased from 93.4 days to 80.2 days for the most recent period (or approximately 11 weeks). We attribute this to the diligent efforts of our editorial assistant Alice Schaller and our dedicated Editorial Board and reviewers. In particular, we were able to reduce the amount of time required to arrange for two reviews and the amount of time from receipt of two reviews to making an editorial decision. For 45 percent of manuscripts two reviews are completed within eight weeks. We will continue to work toward our goal of a 10-week (70-day) total cycle time. Toward this end, we hope to initiate a couple of new procedures during the coming year. The first will involve an electronic system by which the senior associate editors and the editorial staff can more closely track the status of manuscripts under their areas of responsibility. Second, we hope to initiate a system by which authors can use a password to access the status of their manuscript electronically.


We were also able to publish two Special Supplement issues during the period September 1, 1998 through December 31, 1999. In April, we were pleased to publish the first special memorial to Alice Hersh, based on selected papers delivered at the 14th annual meeting of the Association for Health Services Research. This was made possible by the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In December of this past year, we published a Special Supplement issue, entitled "Qualitative Methods in Health Services Research," edited by Kelly J. Devers, Shoshanna Sofaer, and Thomas G. Rundall. These articles were based on an invitational conference co-sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

As in previous years, the Journal's authors continue to attract attention for the quality of their research. We are pleased to note that "Single Women and the Dynamics of Medicaid" by Vicki Freedman and Pamela Farley Short, which appeared in the December 1998 issue of HSR, received the 1999 Article of the Year Award from the Academy for Health Services Research and Health Policy.

Finally, we want to express our appreciation to our educational sponsors: Abbott Laboratories Pharmaceutical Products Division, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Academy for Health Services Research and Health Policy, Daughters of Charity Health System, Henry Ford Health System, Hoechst-Marion Roussel, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Parke-Davis, Premiere Health Alliance, Roche Laboratories, and the University of California, Berkeley's Center for Health Management Studies.

As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions. Please contact us with your ideas at or visit us at our new web site
Table 1: Overall Status of New Manuscripts Received
(September 1, 1998-August 31, 1999) Versus Previous Year
(September 1, 1997-August 31, 1998

 Most Recent Percent Previous Year

 Number Year Number Percent

"No review" 55 25.3 47 27
Accepted 29 13.4 15 8.4
Rejected 85 39.2 63 35.7
Still under review 8 3.7 13 7.3
Still under revision 40 18.4 38 21.6
Total 217 100% 176 100%

Figure 1: New Manuscripts Submitted by Policy Area (Percent)
(September 1, 1998-August 31, 1999) Versus (September 1, 1997-August
31, 1998)

Access/Utilization 34.5
(N = 75) 35.8
(N = 63)

(N = 68) 31.2
(N = 48) 27.3

Costs and Financing
(N = 49) 22.6
(N = 42) 23.9

Other (including pure Methods articles)
(N = 25) 11.4
(N = 23) 13.1

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Figure 2: New Manuscripts Submitted by Subject Area (Percent)

 9/01/98-8/31/99 9/01/97-8/31/98

A 17.9 23.2
B 13.8 18.2
C 12.5 12.5
D 14.3 9.7
E 13.4 9.1
F 6.0 6.3
G 3.2 4.0
H 8.8 3.9
I 4.1 3.4
J 1.8 3.4
K 4.2 7.2

A = Hospitals/Health Systems (N = 39) (N = 41)
B = Aging/Chronic Illness/Long-Term Care/Rehab (N = 30) (N = 32)
C = Mental Health/Substance Abuse (N = 27) (N = 22)
D = Health Insurance/Financing/Payment (N = 31) (N = 17)
E = Methods (N = 29) (N = 16)
F = Physician Behavior/Decision Making (N = 13) (N = 11)
G = Child Health/Maternity Care/Prenatal Care (N = 07) (N = 07)
H = Prevention/Primary Care/Community Health (N = 19) (N = 07)
I = Health Manpower (N = 09) (N = 06)
J = Pharmacy/Dental (N = 04) (N = 06)
K = Other (Includes Rural Health) (N = 09) (N = 11)

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Summary of HSR Survey Results

In October of 1999, the Association for Health Services Research conducted an electronic survey of its members (those with e-mail) regarding their willingness to pay increased dues to support publication of Health Services Research, the Association's official Journal, on a monthly basis. The survey also assessed member views of various electronic publishing options. It was indicated that the main reasons for considering monthly publication included (1) a 40 percent cumulative increase over the past couple of years in manuscript submissions with no diminution of quality--resulting in a relatively long backlog of accepted articles for publication; (2) an ability to provide greater opportunities for influence on policy and practice through more frequent publication; (3) an increase in publication opportunities for health services researchers; and (4) an opportunity to introduce new features to the Journal that may be of interest.

AHSR annual dues are currently $120, of which $38 is used to purchase a subscription to the Journal. The current annual subscription price for non-AHSR members is $70 for individuals and $108 for institutions.

To assess price sensitivity, respondents randomly received one of three versions of the survey: (1) one involving a $31 increase in dues, (2) another a $41 increase in dues, and (3) the third involving an approximately $62 increase in dues--reflecting approximately a 25 percent, 33 percent, and 50 percent overall increase in dues. After two follow-up reminders, 751 of the AHSR members with e-mail responded: a 35 percent response rate. This compares favorably with similar surveys. As expected, more respondents are employed in an academic setting than is the membership at large (57 percent versus 45 percent) and more have doctoral degrees than the membership at large (66 percent versus 45 percent). The findings are summarized below.

Financial Support for Increasing Frequency of-Publication

Overall, 60 percent of members support a dues increase in order to increase the frequency of HSR publication. At the $31 level of dues increase, 74 percent of respondents favored monthly publication; at the $41 level, 54 percent; and at the $62 level, 46 percent. As expected, respondents were more willing to pay increased dues for monthly publication if they used the Journal's content in their work (from no use to citing the Journal and using it in teaching and related activities) and actually read one or more articles. Those who favored a dues increase in order to publish HSR on a monthly basis were more likely to view publishing as being very or extremely important versus of lesser importance, were more likely to have their dues paid by a grant or other organization than by themselves, were more likely to be employed in an academic than non-academic setting, and were more likely to be male. There were no significant differences between researchers and practitioners, duration of membership, student status, or age.

Summary of Results of Electronic Publishing Options

Overall, over half (57 percent) of AHSR respondents preferred to keep the print version of the Journal, although a significant minority (43 percent) favored going to an all-electronic format. Even if HSR were to go to electronic publication, 57 percent of respondents would still be interested in receiving a print version, and most of these (70 percent) would be willing to pay $30 more per year for the print version above and beyond the cost of the electronic version.

Those who tended to favor electronic publishing were less active users of the Journal, tended to be more recent subscribers to the Journal, and tended to be employed in non-academic settings. Interestingly, those who did not consider publication to be very important for their professional career were more likely to favor electronic publication than those who viewed publication as very or extremely important. There were no differences by who paid for dues, between practitioners and researchers, or by student status, age, or gender.

It should also be noted that if HSR were to go to electronic publishing, an overwhelming majority (92 percent) would prefer that it appear as an attachment in word processing format. Also, the overwhelming majority (88 percent) favored copyediting before any accepted refereed article would appear in electronic format.

The Journal, the Academy, and HKET will use this input in making decisions on both frequency and form of publication going forward. As the number of manuscript submissions continues to grow, the need for, as well as advantages of, monthly publication become more apparent. In regard to electronic publishing, the feedback reflects the complexity of the issue. Although we believe the direction is clear (i.e., toward increased use of electronic dissemination of scientific research), we believe the pace and exact form that this takes will involve continued careful examination of the financial, legal, and consumer preference issues. We will keep you informed and invite your continued thoughts as the Journal continues its exploration of electronic publishing options.
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Title Annotation:Editorial Column
Author:Shortell, Stephen M.; Clancy, Carolyn M.; Luft, Harold S.; Lurie, Nicole; McLaughlin, Catherine G.;
Publication:Health Services Research
Date:Jun 1, 2000
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